by Daniel Smith
Australia's Mat Belcher is at the top of his game in the Men’s 470 and having notched up 17 consecutive regatta victories he received a nomination for 2013 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year.
Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan after crossing the 470 Worlds finish line
The Australian has made the trip to Muscat, Sultanate of Oman for the Awards evening on 12 November but unlike some of the other nominees Belcher knows the protocol, 'It’s a complete honour and privilege to be nominated three times in four years,' said Belcher who was nominated in 2010 and 2012. 'From consistent performances at that level it’s been an amazing experience to go through those years with the results we’ve had and obviously to be recognised at an international level.'
Belcher has been dominant in the Men’s 470 and his unbeaten run started in November 2011 with Malcolm Page and with Page went through to London 2012 where they claimed gold.
Teaming up with Will Ryan just months later the streak continued and after taking gold at the 2013 470 Worlds in La Rochelle, France Belcher’s run stood at 17 straight events, 'To be able to do it with two different crews has been really rewarding and it really shows the depth we have in the Australian 470 system and also our preparations and planning to constantly to perform.
'I don’t like to think too much about it [the streak]. It’s surprised myself and a lot of people around us.
'We did eight events in 2012 counting up to the Olympics with those pressures and trying to prepare for the games and then having a new crew and doing nine events we’ve had an intense programme from the Games.'
Keeping up the high-level is key for Belcher but with victories coming in a convincing manner they don’t look like stopping anytime soon. Nonetheless he maintains the focus that has brought him great success, 'We’ve got a lot of work to do, we don’t won’t to win all the events and then not the games so it’s really a matter of learning as much as we can as a new team and making sure we develop at the right time and right place to get the end one in Rio in three years’ time.'
The ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards celebrates the success and variety that sailing offers and being alongside speed demons, global warriors, match racing magicians and kings of the kites is one that Belcher celebrates, 'It’s a privilege and shows the diversity of our sport.
'There aren’t that many sports that have such a big range of different disciplines. To read about their achievements and to follow their achievements, it’s phenomenal. I don’t know how you would decide. It’s almost impossible to compare Olympic, offshore, match racing and kiteboarding. It’s just a privilege to be there and we’ll see what happens.'
Belcher’s previous nominations’ came in 2010 and 2012 and is hoping that 2013 will be his year to take to the stage as ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year, 'It would mean a lot, it really would. I’ve sat through those ceremonies and to be nominated as a finalist is a massive achievement and this is now the third time and it would be fantastic to take out the prize but how do you pick?
'We’re happy with what we’ve done and what we’ve achieved and we’re working just as hard for years to come.'
The 2013 ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year will be announced on Tuesday 12 November at a glittering award ceremony in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.
The winners are selected by the ISAF Member National Authorities (MNAs), the national governing bodies for sailing around the world, who vote for the one male and one female nominee who they believe most deserves the Award.