MELBOURNE'S spectacular skyline provided the perfect backdrop for the first qualifying round of the Victoria Harbour Schools Sailing Series at Docklands last week.
Ten school crews took to the water off Dockland's Yacht Club last Thursday and Friday in what was an exciting start to the 2009 sailing series, proudly sponsored by Lend Lease's Victoria Harbour project and the City of Melbourne.
The three two-man crews from each school sailed pacer dinghies provided by Yachting Victoria.
Haileybury College, St Bede's College, Mentone Grammar and Christian College Geelong proved to be the stronger teams of the round and have all sailed their way to the finals series on 16 and 17 May. The final series will determine which school will go on to represent Victoria at the Australian Schools Team Championships at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron later this year in July.
Last week's two-day event showed just how fickle Melbourne weather can be. The very light southerly winds on Thursday tested most teams, with the more experienced crews coming out the victors of the day.
Methodist Ladies College crew members Olivia, Camilla, Liv, Alice, Jacqui and Caroline said Thursday's lack-lustre winds made sailing difficult, but used the experience to gain confidence for subsequent races.
``It was pretty hard in this wind,'' Caroline said. ``We hope to do better in the next race.''
The conditions did not improve throughout the day, with many teams struggling to showcase their skills to their best potential.
It was a different story on Friday with gusty and shifty northerly winds resulting in some exciting sailing.
Event Director Mark Taylor said he was confident each participant had gained invaluable teams sailing experience.
``For many of the teams, it was their first team racing experience and it was a steep learning curve for them,'' he said.
Mr Taylor said the stronger conditions on day two saw the heavier and more experienced crews come through in the end.
``The racing was much more exciting on Friday'', he said. ``We saw some great boat handling skills from the better teams in the windy conditions.''
Mr Taylor said it was great to see secondary students competing in team racing. ``Team racing is a very exciting form of the sport,'' he said. ``And it is one of the key strategies identified by Yachting Victoria for retaining young people in the sport during their mid and later teenage years.''.
The second qualifying round will be held at Docklands on March 28 and 29.
Schools competing are:
- St Michael's Grammar
- The Peninsula School
- Melbourne High School
- Haileybury College (B)
- Firbank Grammar
- St Leonard's College
- Geeloong Grammar
- Blackburn Secondary College
- The Woodleigh School
- Xavier College
- The Peninsula School (B)
- St Leonard's College (B)
For more information please call Yachting Victoria's schools sailing co-ordinator John Middleton on 0411 453 127.
*Please attribute all photography to Jeff Crow at Sport.TheLibrary*
Ends: Jennifer Milligan
Media & PR Yachting Victoria
0448 884 993