470 World Championship - Belcher and Page stay on winning streak
by Craig Heydon on 16 May 2012
At the 470 World Championships, Australia's Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have kept their winning streak going with another two race wins making it an incredible six from six at the end of qualifying.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page © Victor Kovalenko
Belcher and Page have been the crew to beat in Barcelona and that has continued on day three of racing, with a further two wins giving them a perfect scorecard.
The pair is racing for a third straight world title and they have built the perfect foundation as racing enters the finals series on Wednesday.
'Today was another great day for us, rounding out qualifying with a perfect scorecard, six wins from six races,' said Belcher. 'We’re obviously really happy with our performance across a range of conditions.'
Page said that the pair was very pleased with how their World Championship defence had started.
'You’ve got to take days like these whenever you can,' said Page. 'This is definitely the first time that Mat and I have won six straight races at a World Championship and the first time that I know of in the 15 or 16 years that I’ve been following the class.
'Our coach Victor doesn’t know of any times when it’s happened while he’s been involved in the sport so that stretches it out to about 25 years which all three of us are thrilled with.'
While the scoreboard may look like the pair is doing it easy at the front they had to fight for both wins on Tuesday.
'Today was really tricky and we certainly had our fair share of luck to come away with the win in race five,' said Belcher. 'We were fighting hard down the run and second work after rounding in around 13th to catch the leaders.
'The wind shifted in our favour and we managed to position ourselves to take full advantage and just got the win from the Israelis,' he said. 'In the three to eight knot south-easterly breeze we had today anything can really happen so to have this consistency has been great.'
On Wednesday the 2012 470 World Championship enters the finals series with the top crews facing off against each other for the first time.
'While we’ve had a great run so far our streak is certainly going to end tomorrow with the first day of finals,' said Belcher. 'Things will certainly get interesting with everyone fighting hard. We only have a six point buffer and you can lose that on a bottom mark rounding so we have plenty still to do.'
Belcher and Page currently lead Portuguese pair Alvaro Marinho and Miguel Nunes by six points with Finnish crew Joonas and Niklas Lindgren a point further behind.
Page said that the racing will step up a gear in the finals series.
'These regattas are won and lost in gold fleet racing,' said Page. 'We haven’t made a wrong step so far but the top five or six boats will probably be saying the same thing.
'We’re starting from scratch tomorrow and you could say that the marathon is only just reaching it’s middle point so we’ve got to be patient and take each race as it come,' he said.
Fellow Australians Sam Kivell and Will Ryan ended the qualifying series in 12th overall, with the congestion on the scoreboard meaning the pair is just 10 points off fourth position.
Kivell and Ryan had to fight back in both of the day’s races, eventually finishing with a fifth and an 11th to be well in truly in the mix as the finals begin.
Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell will enter the women’s gold fleet in 24th position.
Rechichi, gold medalist from Beijing 2008, and Stowell, gold medalist from Sydney 2000, finished with a 10th and a 14th on day three.
The pair head into the finals in a tight group on the scoreboard with just 14 points separating positions 17 through 24.
In the men’s fleet Scott Cotton and Rob Size is 50th overall, ahead of Matthew and Robert Crawford in 64th.
Alexander and Patrick Conway are the next best placed Australians in 66th, with Matt and Ben Taylor 70th.
Australian Sailing Team website
470 Worlds website