by Craig Heydon
On the final day of the 470 World Championships, Australian sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page won their third world title following a dominant week in Barcelona, Spain.
Mat Belcher, Malcolm Page adn Victor Kovalenko
Belcher and Page’s win was the third World Championships for the Australian Sailing Team in the space of 10 days as the paired joined 2012 world title winners Tom Slingsby in the Laser class and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49er.
The defending World Champions led the regatta from start to finish and went into the medal race with a 19-point lead over France’s Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos, meaning that they just had to have a clean start to claim the title.
The pair got that clean start and eventually finished the race sixth in challenging conditions, with only three to five knots of wind, a strong current and large waves testing the 10 crews.
'We knew that we just had to get around the course so we had a very conservative start, probably sitting about two boat lengths back off the line,' said Belcher. 'You can’t expect to go out and win every race and today was one of those days, we knew what we had to do and executed it.
'We’ve had a great week, to win any World Championship is special but to get three in a row is amazing,' he said. 'It’s certainly something that we didn’t expect, you spend time focusing on yourself and working hard on our own game so to then come out and get results like this is a great feeling.'
The 2012 World Championship win extended Page’s run as the most successful 470 sailor in history and was the third straight world title he has won with Belcher since teaming up together in 2009.
'Mat and I have had an incredible week, to have a scorecard like that and to sail as well as we did we couldn’t have asked for much more,' said Page. 'To win eight races, including the first six was pretty impressive, I’ve never had a regatta like that.'
'This win makes it six regattas in a row stretching back to last November, including two World Championships, we’re in a good position, are sailing well and feel like we’re getting better and better each time we go out on the water,' said Page.
The pair has made a habit of winning their world titles by healthy margins, claiming the 2010 World Championship with a race to spare, taking 17 points into the medal race in Perth last December and winning six of the 13 races this week in Spain to eventually win by 11 points.
With the 2012 470 World Championship wrapped up the pair’s attention now turns to London 2012 and defending Page’s gold medal from 2008.
'Gold this August is everything that we’ve been working towards for the last four years,' said Page. 'I feel the focus is different this Games, heading into Beijing the objective was a medal after a tough Olympics in Athens but this time gold is the aim and I feel that we are so much better prepared and our consistency has shown that.
Belcher will make his Olympic debut in London and has his sights set on gold.
'To win in London will be a great reward for our commitment and success over this Olympiad,' said Belcher. 'Life is not always fair so we have to prepare the best we can and see what happens. To be on the top step of the dais would be a dream come true.
'It’s a great feeling to be part of our team, Malcolm and Victor are both amazing people to be working with them at our level of sailing is just a great experience, but we know that we still have many things to do before the Games.'
Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell ended their regatta on a high, finishing second in the final gold fleet race on Saturday.
For Rechichi and Stowell the focus for the 2012 470 World Championship was getting as much quality racing in as possible while managing Stowell’s recovery from a back injury.
Even though they sat out the first day of gold fleet racing Rechichi and Stowell eventually finished the regatta in 27th, with three top 10 finishes during the week.
Next stop for the pair is Weymouth and round six of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, the one and only chance they will have to race there together before the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Sam Kivell and Will Ryan finished 16th overall in the men’s fleet, finishing in the top seven in seven of the 13 races during the week.
Scott Cotton and Rob Size were the next best placed Australians in 55th ahead of Matthew and Robert Crawford in 60th.
Alexander and Patrick Conway were 65th, with Matt and Ben Taylor 79th.
Australian Sailing Team website