by Craig Heydon
At the ISAF Sailing World Cup - Sail Melbourne, Australian sailors Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan have made the perfect start to their Rio 2016 Olympic Games campaign with two victories from two starts on the opening day.
Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan on day one of Sail Melbourne 2012
The pair, who only began training together in the 470 a week ago, were at the front of the fleet all day as the 2012/2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup got underway on Port Phillip Bay.
'It was nice to be back racing again, it’s been a while and we were a bit rusty,' said Belcher. 'Our boat skills were a bit rusty but we came away with two wins. This week is all about getting back in the boat again and getting back into racing.
'We’re not looking too closely at results this week, it’s been good to get out there and mix it with the young guys and start again,' he said. 'It was a nice way to start given we’ve only been sailing together for 10 days.'
In the Finn class Brendan Casey was back in the boat for the first time since the London 2012 Olympic Games and showed that the time off the water hasn’t slowed him down with a pair of wins.
Fellow Australians Oliver Tweddell and Jake Lilley are tied for second overall, three points behind Casey, with both sailors finishing the day with a second and a third.
'Today was my first time back racing since the Olympics,' said Casey. 'I’ve come down to Sail Melbourne to help out with the Australian Finn fleet, to help the Masters sailors to get up to speed as they’re going to the World Championships and also to help our young squad, Oliver and Jake, get up to the next level.
'It was great to be back sailing and back out on the water,' he said. 'It’s always nice to win a race but we’ll see how we go, we’ve got some good breeze forecast and hopefully Port Phillip Bay will turn it on and we’ll get some big waves and good rides.'
London 2012 representative Elise Rechichi and new sailing convert Sarah Cook finished their first day of racing together third overall in the 470 women’s fleet.
Rechichi and Cook got their partnership off to a shaky start, being black flagged and disqualified from race one, before bouncing back well with a second place finish in race two.
Monday was only Cook’s 10th day of sailing the 470, with the pair continuing to develop with every day on the water.
Ryan Palk leads the way in the Laser class following a second and a third, finishing the day one point ahead of Tom Burton. Burton began the regatta with a fifth, winning race two to move into second overall.
Teenage sailor Matthew Wearn is third, ahead of Jared West, with Ashley Brunning ending the day fifth overall.
Ashley Stoddart and Krystal Weir are tied for the lead in the Laser Radial class, with both beginning their regatta with a win and a second.
The 49erFX class made its ISAF Sailing World Cup debut on Monday, with seven boats lining up for the first day of racing.
Beijing 2008 470 women’s gold medallist Tessa Parkinson and her crew Kate Lathouras sit at the top of the leaderboard after three races, finishing with two wins and a fourth. New Zealand pair Alex Maloney and Molly Meech are tied on points with the Australians but second on a count back.
Women’s Match Racing London 2012 silver medallist Olivia Price is a point behind in third, sailing alongside James Sly, with the crew finishing with two seconds and a third.
The 49er fleet completed three races to begin their event, with Steven Thomas and Rhys Mara ending the day in first position. Luke Parkinson and Jaspar Warren are second with Sam Kivell and Sam Phillips third in the debut regatta together.
Australian Sailing Team website
Sail Melbourne website