by Craig Heydon
On day five of the 2012 470 World Championship, Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have taken a further step towards defending their title following another consistent day of racing in Barcelona.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page continue to lead at the 2012 470 World Championship
Belcher and Page have been the team to beat all week at the 2012 470 World Championship and this continued on day five of racing with the pair winning the opening race and finishing fifth in race two.
The results leave the Australians 21 points clear of French duo Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos with two gold fleet races and the final 10-boat medal race left to contest.
'Today was a really tough day,' said Page. 'We were postponed again and finally got racing started around 3pm. We ended up having a pretty good breeze around 12 to 15 knots but it was tough, long courses, big separation and at times you couldn’t tell if you were going the right way or not.
'In race one we went around the top mark just behind the Finnish crew in second and managed to squeeze by for the win but things were much tougher in race two,' he said. 'We rounded about fifth last and had a real fight on our hands. We gritted our teeth, didn’t give up and fought our way back through the fleet to get up to fifth by the finish.
'At the end of the day we’ve a gained a few points on the Israelis in third and kept the same gap to the French with a few more races under our belts so things are tracking along well,' said Page.
Belcher and Page have been incredibly consistent all regatta, winning seven of the 10 races and having worst finish of fifth, an impressive feat in such a close class.
'At this stage of the event we wouldn’t want to be in anywhere else in the fleet,' said Page. 'We love having that gold dot on the sail.'
Sam Kivell and Will Ryan have slipped slightly on the leader board to end day five in 15th overall.
Kivell and Ryan had a 19th and a 21st and find themselves 12 points outside the all-important top 10 with two races left to close the gap.
After sitting out the first day of gold fleet racing Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell were back on the water, ending the day with a 27th and an 18th.
The pair is enjoying the opportunity to gain experience racing against the top female 470 crews in the world as Stowell continues to recover from a back injury.
'It was great to be back on the water and working on a number of areas in these conditions,' said Stowell. 'We suffered some equipment failure today which isn’t acceptable but happens nonetheless. But overall things are back on target and heading in the right direction.'
In the men’s fleet Rob Cotton and Scott Size are 48th overall with Matthew and Robert Crawford 60th.
Alexander and Patrick Conway are 65th and had a great day in the bronze fleet with a first and a second from the two races. Matt and Ben Taylor sit in 74th, following a black flag and a ninth.
470 World Championship website
Australian Sailing Team website