by Craig Heydon
The Australian 470 Championships 2013 came to a rousing end as Australian sailing’s two newest crews came through with a successful week of racing on the waters off Port Stephens after claiming the men’s and women’s titles.
Winners of the 2013 Australian 470 Championship
London 2012 gold medallist Mathew Belcher and new crew Will Ryan, and Beijing 2008 gold medallist Elise Rechichi and rower-turned-sailor Sarah Cook finished at the top of the standings in the men’s and women’s categories.
Both crews have only been sailing together for a handful of months as they continue to prepare for the upcoming European season.
For Belcher and Ryan it was a third straight regatta win together after claiming the opening ISAF Sailing World Cup round, Sail Melbourne, and Sail Sydney, in December.
'The conditions were quite tough over the week,' said Belcher. 'Our coach Victor likened it to what we can expect in Rio; flat water, not a lot of wind, strong currents and big shifts.
'This year was the eighth or ninth time that I’ve won the Australian 470 Championship and it was nice to add a new name to the trophy with Will,' he said. 'Will’s is just the sixth name to be on the trophy since 2000.
'It was nice to do more racing together and we feel that we’re communicating well, it’s great to spend time in the boat as we continue to develop,' said Belcher. 'We have a high standard to reach and we both want to get there as quickly as possible.'
Belcher and Ryan will have one more hit out at home before heading to Europe for the first time together, contesting the NSW 470 Championship on March 2 and 3. It’s a busy time for Belcher as he juggles training, racing, and University studies on the Gold Coast.
Much like Belcher, Elise Rechichi is no stranger to winning Australian 470 Championships, with 2013 the sixth time that her name has been on the trophy.
But what made her latest win more impressive is that Rechichi and crew Sarah Cook have only been sailing together since October, with the Port Stephens event just their third as a team.
Cook, a two-time Olympic representative in rowing, was new to the sport in October and the pair are progressing well.
'Things are going better than either of us could have hoped,' said Rechichi. ' We've come a long way in the last five months and have exceeded what even we thought was possible.
'Sarah has a great background in rowing but to jump into a new sport and do so well is impressive,' she said. ' We've shocked a few people with how we’re going at this stage and are feeling positive with where we’re at.
'It was a tough week of racing,' said Rechichi. 'We were caught out a few times by big shifts and found ourselves going from the top three to the bottom three but it was that way for everyone. It would have been nice to beat the boys a few more times but we’re happy with how it finished up.'
Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah were the second placed men’s crew, with Will Ryan’s sisters, Sasha and Jaime, finishing second in the women’s class.
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