by Craig Heydon
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) - 2013 European Open Championship winners
Australia's Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan have won the 2013 470 European Championship in Formia, Italy, extending their impressive winning run together.
The pair has now won all eight regattas they have contested together since teaming up at the end of 2012, with Belcher’s winning streak now sitting at 16 events, including the 2012 Olympic Gold medal.
Belcher and Ryan went into the final eight-boat medal race tied on points for the lead with French duo Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion.
The Australians won the final race, taking their first major 470 title together by 10 points.
'It was a great week for us and an important step forward in our campaign, our first major title,' said Belcher. 'After waiting around for an hour the seabreeze finally arrived, producing around eight to 10 knots.
'With such a short race we could only stay focused on our race and with a good start we got to the first shift and managed to sail a relatively clean race to take the win,' he said. 'We survived another event to keep the winning streak alive, I still can’t believe it’s now 16 events. Mal and I were amazed to have won eight.'
Ryan said that their French opponents tried to put the pressure on them from the start of the race.
'From the start gun the French boat tried to engage us to try and get a penalty on us,' said Ryan. 'But in those situations it’s great having someone like Mat sitting behind you in the boat because you know he’s been in those situations before and the experience shows through.
'After tacking out to separate ourselves from the French a bit Mat linked together a few pressure lanes and we were actually able to round the top mark in second place behind a British boat,' he said. 'As the breeze built a little and stabilized we were able to monitor the French and managed to just sneak past the British on the second upwind to take the lead and win the race.
'Obviously it’s a great feeling, not only for us to win as a team and for me to win my first European title, but it was a valuable week for as we learnt a lot and being able to race and compete in a tight medal race like today is one of the reasons we enjoy this sport so much.'
While Saturday’s win was Ryan’s first at a European Championships, it marks the 10th time that coach Victor Kovalenko has led a team to the title.
Full results can be found by http://europeans.470.org/eventsites/results_470.asp?eventid=124147!clicking_here
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit www.australiansailingteam.com.au and follow the Team on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AusSailingTeam.