Sixty years to the day

On 5 December 1956, the Melbourne Olympic Games sailing competition drew to a close with some tense final races across the five classes.

Scandinavian sailors came out on top winning three of five golds and legends such as Paul Elvstrom (DEN) and Peter Mander and Jack Cropp (NZL) etched their names into the history books.

Sixty years on, it’s fitting that the Olympic legacy left behind at the St Kilda Sailing Precinct continues with the venue once again welcoming a new generation of Olympic heroes whose success stories from Rio 2016 will be celebrated at the Sailing World Cup Final presented by Land Rover.

The St Kilda Sailing Precinct hosted the 1956 Games and the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron is full of stories and memorabilia dedicated to that competition. Most of those racing at the World Cup Final, December 4-11, 2016 are starting their Olympic journey  however they carry the same end goal as the ’56 sailing teams; the ultimate prize in sport, an Olympic medal and to follow in the footsteps of legends.

A recent rivalry will be renewed at the Sailing World Cup Final when Tom Burton (AUS) and Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) go head to head once again.

Burton and Stipanovic tussled for Laser supremacy for four years and this culminated at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games when they locked horns in the Medal Race. Burton managed to overturn a ten-point deficit in the last double points race to clinch gold for Australia, relegating Stipanovic into silver medal spot.

Burton and Stipanovic will be front and centre at the World Cup Final after their Rio duel as they join more than 200 competitors from 31 nations racing across ten Olympic events and Open Kiteboarding. Several Olympic medallists will compete in the finale of the 2016 World Cup series and a whole host of upcoming, exciting talent will join them as they look ahead to Tokyo 2020.

Joining Burton and Stipanovic in the 20-boat Laser fleet will be former World #1 Matt Wearn (AUS), Belgian Olympian Wannes Van Laer, London 2012 silver medallist Pavlos Kontides (CYP) and American Rio 2016 sailor Charlie Buckingham.

In the Laser Radial fleet, Rio 2016 gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) is favoured to win. The Dutch champion controlled the field at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with an astute, professional display and quickly turned her attention to Tokyo 2020 immediately after winning Rio gold, heading to Japan to start familiarising herself with the next Olympic waters.

Danish Rio bronze medallist Anne-Marie Rindom will face off against Bouwmeester again, this time hoping to upset the Dutch party.  Joining the Rio medallists in the fleet is current Laser Radial Youth World Champion and Rio Olympian Maria Erdi of Hungary who will warm up for the Youth Sailing World Championships by competing at the World Cup Final.

Great Britain’s two-time Olympian Alison Young was down to race in Melbourne but sustained an ankle injury in the lead up and withdrew.

The Women’s RS:X welcomes some leading sailors including London 2012 gold medallist Marina Alabau (ESP), bronze medallist Zofia Klepacka (POL) as well as the two-time Youth Worlds champion and Rio 2016 bronze medallist Stefania Elfutina of Russia.

Further Olympic podium finishers across the fleets include Rio Men’s 470 silver recipients Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS), American Finn bronze medallist Caleb Paine and Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin who took silver in the Nacra 17.

Racing across all classes will commence at 12:00 local time on Tuesday 6 December with bragging rights heading into the new Olympic quadrennial as well as a share of the $200,000 AUD prize pot up for grabs. Medal Races on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 will draw the competition to a close.