Sail Melbourne inspires Youth Sailors

Australia’s up and coming sailing talent will join the action at Sail Melbourne International from today, Friday, 1 December 2017 with the Invited Classes scheduled to race from Friday, 1 December through to Sunday, 3 December 2017. Racing kicked-off at Royal Brighton Yacht Squadron on Wednesday, 29 November with the Olympic class sailors contesting their penultimate day of racing today. Sail Melbourne International also includes the inaugural Victorian Kite Foil State Championships with kite surfers to race 2-3 December 2017.

Youth sailing classes make up the majority of the Invited classes and include the Australian Sailing Youth Team, who are utilising Sail Melbourne International 2017 as a dress rehearsal ahead of the 2017 Youth Sailing World Championship to take place in Sanya, China from 9 to 16 December 2017.

The 2017 Australian Sailing Youth team includes 2017 Australian Youth Champions and Victorian Institute of Sport sailors Laura Harding and Eleanor Grimshaw, who are members of both Royal Brighton Yacht Club and their home club Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron. The pair is sailing the girls double-handed 420 class and are looking forward to their final hit-out on home waters before the Youth Sailing World Champs.

“Sail Melbourne for us is to prepare for the Youth Worlds in China. It’s our home town and club, so we’re expecting to do alright against everyone”, Eleanor Grimshaw said.

“It will be a good regatta to see how we are placing after the training this year. We haven’t been able to do too much as I’ve been doing year 12, but we’ve had some good training out here over the past two weeks and we’ll see how it plays off,” skipper Laura Harding added.

Sail Melbourne is a welcome opportunity for Australia’s up and coming sailors to spend time together as a team before leaving for China from Melbourne next week.

“We’ve known parts of the team already as we’ve been to Japan with them in the middle of the year, but we are all getting pretty close already, including a group chat with some banter as well, which is fun,” Laura laughed. And Eleanor added: “I think the team will be really close this year even though we are from all over Australia and different states. We’re all already getting close, which is good.”

The Australian Sailing Team and Australian Sailing Youth Team’s participation at Sail Melbourne International is giving competitors a rare opportunity to mix it up with Australia’s up and coming talent, world champions and Olympic medallists on the Port Phillip racetrack. Competing along side their Olympic heroes offers an aspirational pathway for young sailors in the Invited and Youth classes as both Eleanor and Laura agree.

“It has been really cool to come down for training and see the Australian Sailing Team training out there as well. Just watching them sail has been really cool,” Eleanor said. “Tom Burton was in the gym before, doing his morning routine before racing, so it’s really good to see everyone’s routine and to be able to watch them and how they do things,” Laura added.

In addition to the Australian Sailing Team, both Eleanor and Laura name Australian Sailing Squad’s skiff sailor Tess Lloyd as one of their inspirations as the pair prepares for the Youth Sailing Worlds in the short-term and for their long-term goal to make the Australian Sailing Team for the Olympic Games in Paris 2024.

Fellow Victorian Tess Lloyd is Eleanor’s cousin and got back into sailing after a freak on-water accident with a windsurfer in 2012, which left the then 16-year her in an induced coma and facing the possibility of brain damage. She made a great recovery and continues to be amongst Australia’s best female skiff sailors.

“We both look up to my older cousin Tess Lloyd sailing the 49er and it’s great to have her around the boat park and be able to talk to her. I was with her the whole time when she had her accident. And the way she recovered from it and how she is going now after everything she has been through over the last few years is really inspiring. It’s inspiring to know that if you just keep going, you can still get there, no matter what.”

Invited Classes start racing today (Friday, 1 December) with the International 420, 29ers, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 as well as the Nacra 15, Open Bic and 2.4m joining the mix. 

350 competitors from ten countries are competing in Melbourne with sailors coming from Australia, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, USA, Bermuda, Sweden, New Zealand and Canada.

Racing in the Olympic classes resumes on Friday, 1 December from 12:00 with the men’s and women’s 470, the Finn and RS:X. 49er/49erFX and Nacra 17 are scheduled to follow from 13:30 and Laser at 15:00. See the race schedule here.  

Find out more about the Australian Sailing Youth Team at Sail Melbourne here.

Sail Melbourne International is Australia’s premier Olympic and Invited Classes Regatta, held annually in the waters of Port Phillip and is a fixture on the international sailing calendar. The world’s best sailors are in Melbourne for this year’s event with racing taking place out of Royal Brighton Yacht Club from 29 November to 3 December 2017.

The event is open to spectators and can be followed best from the pier at Royal Brighton Yacht Club (RBYC). Alternatively, viewing is available from the clubhouse upstairs, which is open to all guests during the regatta. 

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