Frensham Pond sailors Will and Annabel Shepherd took first place in the Australian Nationals.

The brother-and-sister duo won three of the seven races and placed in the top ten in the other four. They had an impressive ten-point lead over the next boat.

It capped a great week’s sailing in Port Phillip Bay with its impressive backdrop of Melbourne’s skyline.

The weather had been typically changeable – the city is renowned for claiming it can experience four seasons in one day – with heavy winds and glorious sunshine at the start of the week and thunderstorms and very light winds towards the end.

The conditions were rather different to what Frensham Pond sailors are used to with a lot of chop, challenging currents and a shipping channel to navigate.

Will navigated the conditions with confidence and consistency and triumphed in unfamiliar waters against the locals in their own competition.

He said: “We went to the Aussie Nationals thinking it was just a practice for the worlds the following week and we weren’t expecting a win but it was a nice surprise.

“The conditions are challenging but our pre-event training in the UK with top coaches Mike Mac and Matt White has really helped. We faced a few minor challenges such as ‘reconnecting’ with the boat after not sailing it for a few months while it was in transit to Melbourne, but that was sorted within a race.

“Annabel, my crew – and my sister – has been amazing, especially as we’ve sailed together for only a few months. It’s been great to see the rest of team GBR doing well in all the races and to see how far we’ve come as a team.”

The GBR team had four boats in the top ten. Toby Bush and Kemmel Thorogood took third place, Mish Collingridge and Rhona Enkel were fifth and Edward Fletcher and Alex Enkel were in sixth.

They now move on to the World Championships.

Frank Thoroghgood, the UK National Cadet Class Association Cadet Class chair, said: “The Royal Yacht Club of Victoria put on a top-class regatta and it’s great to see the GB team acquitting themselves so well against the local sailors and the other European visitors. Will and Annabel have laid down a marker for the rest of the fleet and they will be the boat to beat in the World Championships which run until January 2.”

Words and photo by Corinne Whitehouse