Thursday, June 25, 2009

Golden day for Aussie girls in Germany

The final day of racing in Kiel turned out to be a golden day for the Australian Sailing Development Squad women with Katie Spithill winning an all-Australian Women’s Match Racing final and Stacey Hall and Chelsea Omay claiming victory in the 470 women’s medal race to finish fourth overall.

The Women’s Match Racing semi-finals saw Spithill taking on the French crew while Nicky Souter went up against the Dutch. Spithill wasted no time getting into the final, knocking out the French with three straight wins, while Souter eliminated the Dutch three victories to one.

Nicky Souter and her crew of Jess Eastwell and Olivia Price got off to a great start in the final, taking a two race to nil lead in the best of five series. But not to be outdone Katie Spithill, Nicole Douglass and Nina Curtis fought back to level the series at two-all before winning the final race to clinch the series.

Women’s Match Racing coach Dayne Sharp said that all four Australian crews gained a lot of experience racing in round six of the ISAF Sailing World Cup and the all-Australian final showed that the squad is progressing well.

“I am very pleased with the results,” said Sharp. “We achieved our aim of an All-Australian final and both crews fought hard. Our experience in Elliott 6’s has definitely paid off here, despite the differences between the boats we’ve used before and the new models being used at this regatta and for the Olympic Games.”

From Kiel the Women’s Match Racing Squad travels to Sweden to compete in the Women’s Match Racing tour event, the Swedish Match Cup, in preparation for the ISAF Women’s World Match Racing Championship, also in Sweden, in late July, early August.

The only other Aussies to race today were West Australians Stacey Omay & Chelsea Hall in the women’s 470 medal race. Omay & Hall went into the race in seventh place, knowing they had to perform well to move up the ladder.

The pair started solidly before moving from fourth place to take the lead halfway through the race. Omay & Hall showed good composure to maintain their lead as the next group of five boats was not far behind and included those crews that the Australians needed to beat.

The Australians pushed on and crossed the line first, with the medal race victory seeing them move up to fourth overall, their best ever placing at Kiel Week.

West Australian Institute of Sport coach, Belinda Stowell, who was in Kiel to work with the girls, was very pleased with the result.

“The maturity and composure showed by the girls to gain and then maintain the lead was outstanding,” said Stowell. “It was one of the areas we focused on before the race and I am very happy that they were able to put it into practice and get the result they deserve.” -