by Craig Heydon
Delta Lloyd Regatta is the fifth round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Medemblik, Holland.
Mat Belcher & Malcolm Page in form in high wind at Delta Lloyd Regatta 2010
Racing is set to get underway on Tuesday with Australian crews represented in nine of the classes competing and this regatta marks the first time that the entire team has competed together this year.
The Australian Sailing Team had a successful Delta Lloyd Holland Regatta in 2010 with the team bringing home two Golds and a Silver medal, with Tom Slingsby and Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen standing on the top step of the Laser and 49er classes respectively while Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page were second in the 470s.
Reigning Laser World Champion and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby heads into the event with an impressive run of seven straight medal finishes in ISAF Sailing World Cup events.
'I’ve been out of the boat for the last month sailing in other classes and am looking forward to getting back in to racing here,' said Slingsby. 'For me the next event in Weymouth is a peak event so this week is about continuing to improve and spend time in the boat.
'We’re missing a few of the top guys in our fleet and some people have been saying that it will be easier to win but that’s never the case in the Laser class, anybody can win on their day and the competition will still be tough no matter who is racing,' he said.
49er sailors Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen will be aiming for their third straight victory in Holland, with this regatta being their first since Sail Melbourne last December.
'While we didn’t travel to the last three World Cup events, we’ve been doing a lot of training at home and are feeling pretty good heading into the regatta,' said Outteridge. 'We’ve done a lot of preparation over the last few months with a new boat, new mast and new sails and are keen to tune up against an international fleet before we head to Weymouth.'
In the 470 men’s class 2010 World Champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have had a mixed start to this year’s World Cup with a Gold and Silver medal in the first two rounds and then a seventh and a sixth in rounds three and four.
'After our first two regattas in Europe this year we found that we weren’t at the same level as the other top guys after taking time off in February and March,' said Page. 'After some more time in the boat we feel we’re getting back up there now.
'We’re using these regattas to develop in other areas, taking a long-term approach, but it’s sometimes hard to take when you’re not winning all the time,' he said. 'In the last two regattas we found that we started well but weren’t delivering when it mattered so here we’ll be working on our final series approach.'
In the Women’s Match Racing competition Australia has two entries with Olivia Price making her World Cup debut as a skipper, alongside Nina Curtis and Rayshele Martin, while Katie Spithill, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty will sail together.
Price is enjoying the opportunity to steer the Elliott 6 in the World Cup after making a great start to skippering in Match Racing at a high level with a win in the ISAF Nations Cup Oceania Qualifier in Sydney earlier this month.
'I’m really excited about this opportunity and we should be able to take a lot of what we learnt in the Nations Cup a couple of weeks back and put it into practice,' said Price. 'We feel that we’re ticking the boxes everyday in training and are looking forward to seeing what we can do once racing begins.
'First off we want to achieve all of our goals in executing what we want on the water,' she said. 'It’s about winning races as well but this is our first regatta in these boats and we’re a new team so we’ll be learning in every race.'
Spithill, Eastwell and Whitty are also continuing to develop as a crew and head into this regatta on the back of a good win at the European Championship qualifiers in Finland last week.
'The win in Finland was good but we can’t look at the past heading into this event, we’re focused on the week ahead,' said Spithill. 'Our results are continuing in the right direction, we’re getting Lucinda settled into the bow and are working well as a combination, every regatta is a great chance to learn.'
Brendan Casey heads into racing in the Finn class after spending time training in Weymouth after the last round on the World Cup in France.
'It was good to spend time training in Weymouth, racing against all of the top guys between regattas,' said Casey. 'At this stage it’s a benefit to sail there a lot, it’s what we’re all training for and focused on.
'This week I’m aiming to build on the last few events, as I look for a top performance at Sail for Gold next month,' he said.
The Laser class includes Australian Sailing Team member Tom Burton and Australian Sailing Squad members Ashley Brunning, James Burman, Ryan Palk, Jared West and Mark Whittington.
Jessica Crisp will compete in her first European regatta for the year in the RS:X women’s class while Ashley Stoddart and Gabrielle King will compete in the Laser Radials.
The 470 men’s fleet will feature Squad crew Sam Kivell and Will Ryan and in the 49ers the Squad will be represented by Will and Sam Phillips, Steven Thomas and Nick Brownie, and Tom Johnson and Rhys Mara.
Matthew Bugg will compete in the 2.4mR class, beginning a busy few months where he will contest this regatta, Skandia Sail for Gold, Kiel Week and then the IFDS World Championships.
Other Australians competing in Holland include Alexander and Patrick Conway in the 470s, RS:X women’s sailor Allison Shreeve and RS:X men’s competitors Tim Gourlay, Jimmy Levy and Patrick Vos. Ki-Raphael Sulkowski will race in the Laser fleet and Tim Castles, Oliver Tweddell, Rob McMillan and Shaun Wells in the Finn.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team click here