by Craig Heydon
At the 2012 470 World Championships, defending champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have gotten their title defence off to a winning start on the opening day in Barcelona, Spain. Light winds kept the crews on shore for much of the day, with only one race able to be completed late in the afternoon.
Belcher and Page on day 1
Belcher and Page started the event with a win in their group, leaving them in a three-way tie for the lead.
'We only managed to complete one race today in what was a very, very, long day,' said Page. 'We were originally postponed on shore for three or four hours and then when we finally hit the water we drifted around for another two hours before finally getting a race in.
'It was a very difficult day with strong current and only four or five knots of breeze which shifted around all afternoon,' he said. 'We managed to get off the line well and got ahead, it’s great to get a win to kick off our world title defence.'
Belcher and Page have had a winning start to the Olympic year with victories at ISAF Sailing World Cup rounds in Miami, Palma and Hyeres, in a range of conditions.
'We’ve got quite a contrast in conditions here to what we had at our last event in France where the breeze was strong all week,' said Page. 'The breeze isn’t forecast to get into double digits all week here so it’s going to be a patience game.
'You have to be prepared for some bad races and make the most of the good ones when they come along,' he said. 'Being Australian we always feel more comfortable in the medium and strong conditions but we’ve made a real effort to improve in the light stuff, after our win in Palma in conditions like today we felt that we improved a lot and it was good to reinforce that here.'
Fellow Australians Sam Kivell and Will Ryan also had a good start to the event, with the pair finishing second in the opening race.
The second place finish leaves Kivell and Ryan fourth overall with three races scheduled for Monday as the race committee attempts to get back on schedule.
In the women’s competition Australians Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell also find themselves at the pointy end of the fleet, finishing fifth in Sunday’s only race.
Rechichi and Stowell, competing in just their second 470 World Championship together, are currently ninth overall in a count back.
Scott Cotton and Rob Size are 37th, ahead of Matt and Ben Taylor who are 52nd. Matthew and Robert Crawford are 73rd and Alexander and Patrick Conway 79th.
Racing continues in Barcelona on Monday with the 2012 470 World Championship scheduled to finish on Saturday 19 May.
Australian Sailing Team website
470 Worlds website