by Cora Zillich
Open European 470 Championship 2014 - Olympic Champion Mat Belcher (QLD) and World Champion crew Will Ryan (QLD) have taken the gold medal at the 2014 Men’s 470 Open European Championship, which wrapped up in Athens, Greece last night. The duo defended their 2013 European title for a second consecutive time.
Mat Belcher - Will Ryan. Open European 470 Championship 2014
Belcher and Ryan posted strong results over the week, including four race wins and four top five finishes across ten races. They went into the medal race with a nine point lead and a sixth place in the final hit out, worth double points, was enough to grant them top podium spot fifteen points ahead of British pair Luke Patience and Elliot Willis, who finished ninth in the medal race.
Post-regatta Mat Belcher said: 'It’s a major championship and we are really happy how we sailed this week. It was a great way to check-in before our Worlds in September and both the event and competition were great. We will see many of our competitors at the test event in Rio but the main focus this year and the main event for all of us are the World Championships in Santander.'
And about his crew and coach he added 'I really enjoy sailing with Will, it’s his second European Championship and our second European title together. It’s been great and we love sailing with each other, developing ourselves and working towards the Rio Olympic Games in two years time. Thanks also to our coach Victor, who has won numerous Euros. I would only be guessing, but it would probably be thirteen or fourteen European titles for him.'
No better place than Greece, at the home of the Olympic Games, to look ahead towards the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, which are the ultimate goal and dream for this winning combination as Will Ryan describes:
'Rio is the ultimate goal for sure. For Mat it was a twelve year dream to get to London, for me it will have been an eight year dream by the time I hopefully get to Rio. It’s a long term goal for both of us. It will take a lot of effort, time and money and everything else to get there, but Rio 2016 is definitely our focus.'
Belcher and Ryan will be racing the 470 at the 2014 Olympic Test Event in Rio (2-9 August 2014), Brazil next before heading to the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander, Spain (8-21 September 2014).
2014 Men’s and Women’s 470 European Championships, Athens
Australian Sailing Team and Squad final results:
Mathew Belcher (QLD) - Will Ryan (QLD) first
Angus Galloway (QLD) - Tim Hannah (VIC) 34th
Robert and Mathew Crawford (NSW) 45th
Sasha Ryan (QLD) - Amelia Catt (TAS) 34th
Carrie Smith (WA) - Jaime Ryan (QLD) 38th
Jacquie Gurr (VIC) - Sarah Cook (VIC) 41st