by Craig Heydon
On the second day of the 470 World Championships, Australian sailors have enjoyed a strong day in La Rochelle, France, with crews recording wins in both the men’s and women’s competition.
Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan racing at the 2013 470 World Championship
Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan recorded a third win in the men’s fleet to ensure they would finish the qualification series first overall while Elise Rechichi and Sarah Cook picked up their first World Championship race win as they continue to work their way up the leader board.
Belcher and Ryan’s win in the opening race on Tuesday put them in the unique position where they didn’t have to complete the last qualification race to hold onto their top position heading into the finals series
'It's not every day that you get to miss a race at a major championship,' said Belcher. 'It's now the third time we've missed a race with the new scoring format and it still feels a little strange to sail home when the teams are racing but we decided to rest and get ready for tomorrow's racing.'
Ryan said that the pair feel that they’re in a good position heading into the finals series and are looking forward to the challenge of lining up against all the top crews for the first time.
'It was good to get through the qualification and be in the best spot possible,' said Ryan. 'We had two very different days conditions wise which was good for our understanding of the venue. It was also very good to get back into regatta mode as the Europeans was our last event almost two months ago.
'The Worlds is always a long event so the opportunity to sit out the final race was very good,' he said. 'It's good for the bodies and good for the confidence as well, but the real racing starts tomorrow and the regatta virtually starts again, just three times harder as we have all the top boats in the same fleet now.
'Tomorrow we’ve got two races in the afternoon again but it's very much about taking each race as it comes for Mat and I. I think we're comfortable with how we're sailing but the next few days will be about continuing to adapt to the tricky conditions, trying to be consistent and hopefully by Friday we'll be in a position to fight for the win,' said Ryan.
Alexander and Patrick Conway finished the day in 24th position, qualifying for the gold fleet following a 14th and a 24th.
Matthew and Robert Crawford are currently 39th overall, with Scott Cotton and Tom Potter 83rd.
Elise Rechichi and Sarah Cook at the 470 World Championship 2013
Elise Rechichi and Sarah Cook got their second day of World Championship racing together off to a perfect start, winning the day’s opening race.
The pair then finished 10th in race two to end the qualification series in 12th overall, progressing through to the gold fleet for the finals.
'We're feeling happy about where things finished up at the end of qualification,' said Cook. 'The main task was to make gold fleet, but then obviously with as high a ranking as possible to start off the finals series with fewer points in the 'carry-forward' race. So 12th overall is a reasonable place for us to begin.
'We were happy with the win in race one and enjoyed the conditions we faced today which were considerably lighter than yesterday,' she said. 'We were a little too conservative though in the second race and really paid for it off the start. It made it a real battle to work our way back up to finish 10th. We're looking forward to starting the finals series tomorrow and racing a bit more aggressively. The conditions forecast look like they should play to our strengths, so I'm excited to see what we can do over the next seven races.'
Rechichi and Cook will be joined in the gold fleet by fellow Australians Jacqueline Gurr and Amelia Catt who ended day two in 24th.
Gurr and Catt were 13th in race one on Tuesday and 11th in race two in their first World Championship together.
Sasha and Jaime Ryan ended the qualification series in 31st overall, with Lucy Shephard and Aurora Paterson 46th.
Racing continues in La Rochelle on Wednesday with the medal races to be held on Saturday. Full results are available here.
Australian Sailing Team