On a winning streak - Mat Belcher and Will Ryan win their first major
by Mathew Belcher on 18 Jun 2013
London 2012 470 Gold Medalist Mat Belcher has won 16 regattas in a row. Hi and his crew Will Ryan report ´'After winning our first major title in the form of the European Championships, it is exciting to be able to share with you all our progress as we take another step forward as a team.
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan win their first major .. .
As Will's first European Championship win, this is Coach Victor Kovalenko's 10th European Title, and extends Mathews unbeaten streak to 16 regattas in a row! We were not declared official European Champion's as Australia is just invited as a nation to compete, but we should really be eligible as we spend enough time over here!
The event was held from Formia, Italy on the coastline halfway between Rome and Naples. It was certainly a pleasant contrast to enjoy the warm blue waters and sunshine with temperatures in the high 20's after the last cold event in Holland. The local seabreeze made for really interesting racing with the ability for many different teams to be 'looking famous' at various intervals in each race not that dissimilar to a game of snakes and ladders.
Predicted to be a light wind venue, we were lucky to enjoy a well developed seabreeze for the first few days of racing before it gradually lightened with only one race being completed on the final day of Finals Series.
After finishing qualification in first place we did our best to sail simple to avoid any high scores, and at the same time it gave us the opportunity to work on our lighter wind fleet sailing and speed. As a team we had not raced much in these conditions so it was very positive to feel that we were improving together.
The French team of Mion and Bouvet had a great final series and coming into the last race of the final series we were tied on points, but with the French team having a worse discard score than us and an 8-boat medal race being trialled for the event, it opened the tactical game a little. But as we prepared for the race the wind died away and it was left to a deciding medal race of who-beat-who the following day.
It felt like a longer than usual wait before the seabreeze finally arrived; but after watching the girls medal race the breeze continued to slowly build to 8/9knots allowing open pumping for our turn. We executed a nice start to windward of the French team, but they immediately began to engage us in the hope to gain a penalty with a slow luff.
After tacking out to gain a little separation it became a bit of an upwind pumping race but Mat did a great job linking together a few of the narrow pressure lines to allow us to round the first windward mark in second place. From there we were able to protect our position against the French team, and on the second upwind we actually managed to pass the leading British boat to give us the race win and the open title by 10 points!
Thank you again to all for your support and messages. The continued support of the Australian Sailing Team, ABeam Consulting, Wyndham Harbour, Southport Yacht Club, Royal Queensland Yacht Club, Audi, Omega, Maersk, Revium, 2XU, Maui Jim, Hamilton Island, our friends and supporters, campaign godfather Marcus Blackmore and of course the time and care of Coach Victor Kovalenko are invaluable.
For now Mathew returns home to Australia for university exams, with the next being the 470 World Championships and 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the 470 in La Rochelle, France.
Full results from the European Championships are at website
With video of the final medal race viewable here
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or on our team website here