Thirty-six nations have registered sailors across a combined 22 Olympic and Invited classes for next week’s Sailing World Cup Final presented by Land Rover and due to unfold across Melbourne’s St Kilda foreshore and adjacent waters December 4-11, 2016.
Competitor numbers are predicted to reach 800 across the two competitions - the final stage of the international body World Sailing’s six-part Olympic class international circuit that will come to a head at St Kilda for the 11 classes, and the 11 Invited classes.
Adding in the estimated 10,000 visitors likely to attend a music festival at Catani Gardens next to the St Kilda Sailing Precinct (made up of Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, St Kilda Sea Baths, St Kilda Beach and Catani Gardens) on Saturday December 10, and the final gold medal weekend over December 10-11 is shaping up as a major outdoor sporting and cultural event.
Mark Turnbull, himself an Olympic gold medallist turned sailing event organiser said, “There’s the Olympic level and crowning the champions at the end of the World Series and that’s special, but doing it in front of the public is the key driver. The Sailing World Cup is all about exposing a sport we love to a wider audience, putting it in front of as many people as we can in a fun and engaging way.”
Not only can the public enjoy watching some of the world’s most decorated sailors rigging their boats in the boat park and sailing in our local waters, there are also “on land” activities such as the Land Rover Terapod, where people can be part of an extraordinary off road 4WD experience on the St Kilda Foreshore free of charge.
Carter Grange, one of Melbourne’s premium home builders will have a display, showcasing their innovative and luxurious homes.
Line 7, official clothing partner of Sail Melbourne, will have their own retail store on the foreshore, displaying and selling their high performance sailing apparel.
Organisers in conjunction with the Victorian state government have created a busy program of on and off-water activities for athletes and their entourages, plus Melbournians and visitors to the city.
In the first half of the Sailing World Cup Final week, a dynamic class of boat called a WASPZ will be showcased, on Monday December 5 and Wednesday December 7. The public and sailors can register their interest here to be part of the demonstrations.
For those more into land-based sport, VicBeach Volleyball in front of the St Kilda Baths will be on from 6pm nightly, and for those wanting something that involves very little exertion, Ben & Jerry’s openair cinema will be in full swing at South Beach reserve, next to the Baths, from dusk.
Photo - St Kilda Tourism & Events
All Sailing World Cup participants will be invited to an Olympic Sausage Sizzle on the eve of the finals weekend. This will be a rare opportunity for sailors setting out on a path to potential glory and those with their focus squarely on Tokyo 2020 to meet some of the Rio 2016 Olympic sailors as they turn ‘snags’, an Australian colloquialism for sausages, for an estimated 1,000 guests.
If the school-age Opti or BIC sailors don’t manage to catch their favourite Olympic hero on the beach rigging up, the addition of a huge BBQ for all competitors will provide another opportunity for the next generation to approach and chat with the best sailors in the world .
On the concluding weekend the public and those who missed out on a finals place can watch the deciding race of every Olympic class free of charge from the precinct. Races will also be streamed live to giant screens.
At the other end of the scale is the free Discover Sailing Day, 10am to 4pm December 11-12 out of the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron. Discover Sailing is designed to be a gentle foray into the sport for those aged seven and over, and the chance to ask the experts lots of questions on how to get involved in the sport Australians have unique access to given most of the population live along the country’s coastal fringes.
Saturday afternoon’s kite boarding demonstration and Q&A on the St Kilda Sailing Precinct’s main stage from 6pm will create a colour explosion and give some insight into the extreme sport via a panel of experts.
In among live entertainment and with plenty of site hospitality available on the Sunday afternoon, December 11, the final medal presentation on the main stage will bring the event to a close. Trophies and $200,000 in prize money will be divided up and presented to the Sailing World Cup Final and overall series victors from the 11 Olympic classes.
Between the Olympics and Paralympics, Australia out-performed the rest of the world in sailing at the Rio 2016 Games and three of the four medalling Australian Olympic teams have signed on for the World Cup Final presented by Land Rover. Laser gold medallist Tom Burton, 470 silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan and Nacra 17 silver medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin lead the Aussie charge.
In addition the event will see over a dozen medallists from the Rio 2016 Olympics compete, including Olympic Laser Radial gold medallist Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Laser Men’s silver medallist Tonci Stipanovic (CRO).
The Sailing World Cup Final presented by Land Rover officially opens on December 4 with racing to begin on December 6.
“Summertime on the waterfront in Melbourne already draws masses of locals and visitors to the waterfront for the long and balmy evenings. The Sailing World Cup Final will create a festival atmosphere and include plenty of interactive events for novices, as well as giving the athletes multiple reasons to stay around the venue after racing, whether playing volleyball on the beach, catching an outdoor movie or eating along St Kilda’s famous restaurant strip.
“We want to showcase the sport to a vast new audience and give the sailors a great time,” Turnbull added.
By Lisa Ratcliff, Sailing World Cup Final