ISAF Sailing World Cup – Melbourne Series

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Balancing on trapezeby Rev. Mfufu Zambezi-Raskladushkin

For a week in December foreshore of St Kilda was awash with colourful sails, soaring kites, participants of all ages and curious public. For the first time ISAF World Sailing Cup moved from Sandringham to inner city Bay locations to increase exposure and highlight a beauty and recreational/competitive value of this sport.

The Sailing World Cup is a world-class annual series for Olympic sailing with participants from all over the planet. It is open to sailing events chosen for the 2015 Olympic Sailing Competition. The 2015 Sailing World Cup consist of five regattas for ten Olympic events and Formula Kite Racing qualification. Moreover competition is ran in invited classes as well. It is also considered an important training/qualifying opportunity in leadup to Rio Olympics.

St Kilda Royal Yacht Squadron. Boat. Dolly. Sailor. ManpowerLocal sailing bodies – Yachting Australia, Yachting Victoria – played hosts to this international event with St Kilda Royal Yacht Squadron used as a competition base. Several prominent sponsors were present such as Bolle and Mercedes Benz.

To excel in these sailing disciplines, the talent has to be attracted and nurtured from young age. This concept was on display when St Kilda surf became flooded with kids participating in Opti Olympics competition.

Optimist is a tiny junior class boat that used to be built with three sheets of plywood (fiberglass these days) and manned by an enthusiastic under 16 solo sailor. Many World class champions started their careers (80% actually, according to some sources) on this boat.

There is a common misconception that competitive/recreational sailing is an exclusive prerogative of elite group of sportspersons/silvertail multimillionaires. Sydney to Hobart, at its competition supermaxis level, is a good example. This however, is an exception, not a rule as far as numbers are concerned. All Olympic class boats are, essentially, wind powered dinghies (or multihull boats in their double kayak reincarnation/windsurfing boards) of astonishing variety. For Australia, with its 6th longest coastline in the World and natural gravitation of population to coastal areas, sailing could truly become a very attractive common folks recreational activity boosting clubs memberships/boats charter leasing or sales. Event featured a dedicated free Discover Sailing day to encourage public to try their hand.

Competition will come back next year and organisers are currently lobbying Cup’s governing body to stage a Cup Final at St Kilda some time in the future.

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