by Craig Heydon
2013 470 European Championships - The finals series has kicked off at the in Formia, Italy, with Australia´s Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan continuing to lead the way. Belcher and Ryan went into the first day of finals series racing leading the men’s fleet, with lighter conditions mixing up the results. The Australians finished the day with a seventh and a fifth, giving them a five point lead over the second placed British crew. 'Today was a pretty difficult day, which you can see by the mix of results throughout the fleet,' said Belcher. 'Will and I sailed really well today, we had great speed and were happy with our positioning on the course. 'But sailing is sailing and we just didn’t get the first beats right,' he said. 'We were really happy with our ability to come back to two solid results. Of course a seventh and a fifth isn’t our best day of results but it was better than a 20th and a 15th which is what we rounded the first mark in. So all in all, it was a good day for us.' Ryan said that they enjoyed racing against all of the top crews for the first time at this event. 'We had some great racing as it was good to have all the top boats together,' said Ryan. 'The course is really tricky which certainly kept everyone on their toes. 'We were happy with how we sailed and feel like we’re improving all the time,' he said. 'Despite not picking the best strategies on the first upwinds in both races we fought really well to be able to record two good results. It’s early days in the finals series so despite not showing brilliance today it was good to be able to show a bit of consistency.' Matthew and Robert Crawford have moved into 16th overall following a 17th and a 14th from Wednesday’s two races. Alexander and Patrick Conway are 39th, with Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah 52nd and Scott Cotton and Tom Potter 62nd. In the women’s fleet Elise Rechichi and Sarah Cook have moved into 17th overall. The pair was 18th in the opening race of the day, improving to 11th in race two. Rechichi and Cook are in a tight group of crews on the leader board, ending day three of the regatta just 15 points off the top 10. Sasha and Jaime Ryan are currently 28th overall, with Lucy Shephard and Aurora Paterson up to 34th in their first overseas regatta together.
2013 470 European Championship 3 - Mat Belcher/Will Ryan (AUS)