Image from Unsplash
Spectators and competitors alike took to the stunning Port Phillip Bay beaches in droves for the ISAF Sailing World Cup – Sail Melbourne. The first leg of one of the Cup, which is one of world’s most prestigious sailing events, took place at the stunning, recently rebuilt Sandringham Yacht Club between the 14 and 19 December 2009.
The six day event brought together an impressive 365 athletes from 27 countries across the globe, including a host of world champions and Olympic gold medallists, ensuring a spectacular start to 2009/2010 event.
Earlier this year, the Victorian Government announced its successful bid to host the Asia Pacific arm of this prestigious event until 2011. The next stages of the Cup are to take place at six other venues across the world – Miami, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Great Britain. At each event, competitors receive valuable ranking points, which determine the overall ISAF Sailing World Cup champions.
Exciting, world class sailing action coincided with glamorous and engaging lifestyle events and community activities meaning a diverse range of entertainment was on offer not only to sailing enthusiasts, but also to the wider public.
Bruce Griffiths, Chairman of Sail Melbourne, said: “We were delighted with the success of the 2009 event. What a thrilling show of sailing it was! The calibre of talent that came to our shores was fantastic and gave locals the opportunity to watch real sporting heroes at work. The hundreds of competing sailors welcomed the opportunity get out onto the picturesque waters of Port Phillip Bay. I’d like to say well done to all who participated and to thank all of our partners, supporters and volunteers.”
Australians Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page went through the competition undefeated, the first time either of them had achieved such a feat in the 470 class. They finished the regatta as they started it, with a win over Americans Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl. Belcher and Page ended on eight points, ten ahead of the Americans, with young ‘up-and-coming’ Aussies Sam Kivell and Will Ryan coming in third place.
Another local pair successful in their quest for victory was Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen. They finished third in the 49er medal race, enough to give them a four point win over their closest competition, New Zealanders Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. This win leaves Nathan and Iain undefeated.
Off the water, the thrilling program of on-shore activity saw 180 guests enjoy the Official Sailing World Cup Dinner which paid tribute to and celebrated the history of Australia’s sailing greats. A panel of guest speakers including Olympic gold medallists Malcolm Page and Mark Turnbull and the legendary John Bertrand, who skippered the boat that led Australia to victory in the 1983 America’s Cup and took the bronze medal at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
Later in the week, 150 of Melbourne’s most glamorous ladies attended the event’s official Ladies Day, held in aid of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. The day raised an impressive $3,045 for the charity. Hosted by Project Runway finalist Amber Renae the event comprised a lavish drinks reception, three course lunch and spectacular fashion show including designs by Helly Hansen, Natalie Begg, Flamingo Sands and Victor Alexandre.
Melbourne’s younger sailing enthusiasts were treated to a special Olympic Heroes Day for Kids where they were given the unique opportunity to come face-to-face with some of Australia’s Olympic sailing heroes before experiencing a number of marine driven activities including wind surfing, stand up paddle, kayaking and, of course, sailing. Meanwhile, adult spectators enjoyed the opportunity to chat to Olympians during the final day of competitive racing and spent the afternoon trying their own hands at water based activities.
As the event drew to a close and the medal winners took to the podiums, over 200 of Melbourne’s social elite took the day into the night on the idyllic yacht club balcony at the event’s elegant Lifestyle Party. This vibrant celebration of sailing combined eye-catching fashion shows with the finest beats from Melbourne based DJ talent, all set to the backdrop of a stunning Port Phillip Bay sunset.