by Craig Heydon
Australian sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page are offering the opportunity for people to get behind their Olympic campaign in a new way by naming the boat they will race at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page during the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships
Belcher and Page have a tradition of naming their 470s after Nicole Kidman movies and this theme will continue with their new boat. Australians can participate via a link on the Australian Sailing Team website, or directly to their website, where they are able to choose their favourite from five names.
The shortlist of names include Nine, Bewitched, Invasion, Practical Magic and Room to Move, with the competition running from Thursday 8 March until Wednesday 21 March. Belcher and Page will reveal the winning name a day later when they christen the new 470 in Spain.
Everybody who visits the site and selects their favourite name goes into the draw to win an Audi of their choice for a week and be a part of the pair’s campaign to race the best 470 sailors in the world for Gold this August.
'The tradition of naming the boats after Nicole Kidman movies goes back about eight years to when I was sailing with my previous skipper Nathan Wilmot,' said Page. 'We were dropping weight for a regatta and a friend commented that it looked like had just got out of the Bangkok Hilton and it’s stuck since then.
'Nicole actually found out about it before the last Games and got in touch to wish us luck which was nice,' he said.'It’s been great to continue the tradition with Mat. Since we teamed up in 2009 we’ve had some great success together, including winning the last two World Championships and we feel like we’re in a good position heading to London.
'In the past our coach Victor has always picked the name of the boat but this time we thought we’d open it up to the Australian public and it will be great to have that extra connection with our supporters and hopefully it will put a little extra wind in our sails,' he said.
Page is aiming to create Australian Olympic history in August by becoming the first Australian sailor to win two Gold medals after his success with Nathan Wilmot at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Belcher, who will compete at his first Olympic Games this year, is keen to see which name will get the nod.
'This is a tradition that has been going on for some time now and I think it’s brought a lot of good luck with it and we’re keen to see that continue,' he said. 'All we need to do now is decide a name and we’d like the Australian public to help us out with that.
'It’s going to be great to get the public involved in our campaign and build some more awareness of what we’re doing as we head into our biggest year,' said Belcher. 'To enter all people need to do is go to our website and follow the links to not only hopefully see their selected name on the back of the boat but also go into the draw to win an Audi for a week.
'The next few months are set to be incredibly busy as we race in a number of ISAF Sailing World Cup rounds, the 2012 470 World Championships in Barcelona and put the finishing touches on our Olympic Games campaign and we’d love to have as many people as possible along for the ride,' he said.
Heading into the London 2012 Olympic Games Belcher and Page are ranked number one in the world, a position they have held for almost two years and kicked off their Olympic year with a strong win at the recent ISAF Sailing World Cup round in Miami, the first time that either of them had won the event.
Next up for Belcher and Page is round three of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Palma, Spain, between March 31 and April 7 where they will debut the newly named 470.
To enter the competition follow the links on the Australian Sailing Team website or go directly to www.belcherpage2012.com.