by Cora Zillich
At the ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne today saw the first day of Olympic boat class medal races with the Men's and Women's 470, Finn, Laser, Laser Radial fleets contesting.
Medal race - 470 M / Mathew Belcher & Will Ryan (AUS) GOLD 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup - Melbourne, Sail Melbourne
World Sailor of the Year and London Olympic Champion Mat Belcher (QLD) and partner Will Ryan (QLD), re-wrote sailing history by securing another consecutive 470 class regatta win. This brings the 18th win in a row for Mat Belcher.
'We had a great day today and it’s nice to finish off a long battle for the week against the Croatian team. They are four times World's medallists and it’s great that they came out. They performed really well and we are just happy that we came out on top today and in the winner takes it all gold medal race', Mat Belcher said after the race.
'It’s been a great year for Will and I in our new partnership and having won all the events we competed in so far. We’ve been working really hard and we are trying to build on this for next year and obviously on the way to Rio.'
AST head coach Victor Kovalenko, OAM, added: 'Mat and Will had a good regatta and I’m very happy for them. Eighteen consecutive wins on this level is actually historic – no one has ever done this before and possibly no one ever will.'
Mat Belcher about his winning streak: 'It’s fantastic to finish off this year on a winning note. I have heard some pretty optimistic statements, like, ‘Oh yes they can go unbeaten all the way to Rio’. But we can’t keep this up, there is no way. The talent in the fleet is just too good. We have done something quite extraordinary and have really amazed ourselves in our performance and from a psychological point of view, how we have been able to win those past regattas. But we know that one mistake and that’s it.'
'This is still a new partnership and to have the results that we have had, it’s phenomenal and a real credit to Will. It’s a high-pressured situation, he is coming in replacing Mal (Page) and he is finding his way. I am honoured to sail with him and looking forward to where we can take our partnership'.
In the Laser fleet it was current World Number One sailor Tom Burton (NSW) who defended his 2012 Sail Melbourne title. Burton brought in the first win of the day for the Australian Sailing Team, having taken an unassailable lead by winning all three of yesterday’s races. He finishes off the regatta ranking first overall. The win at the final event of the year was a welcome wrap of the year for Burton after a gold and silver at other World Cup events earlier this year and finishing ninth at the Laser Men’s World Championships in Oman a couple weeks ago:
'It’s been a good week for me and pretty consistent. Coming off the Worlds, I was a little bit disappointed with my result and the goal was obviously to get back onto that podium. All the Aussie guys are pretty good and we are a bit more familiar with these conditions than what we had in Oman. I was on the podium here last year, coming off Oman and with a great group of guys I train with, the goal was to win',
Matt Wearn (WA), who just qualified for the Australian Sailing Team with his tenth place at the Laser Men’s World Championships in Oman, came third ahead of Australian Sailing Squad member Ashley Brunning (NSW) who finished fourth.
In the other events of the day, the fourteen strong Finn fleet saw a week of promising performances of the Australian Sailing Squad athletes Jake Lilley (QLD) and Victorian Oliver Tweddell. Today’s medal confirmed yesterday’s ranking with both Tweddell in second and Lilley in third securing podium spots. AST member and London Olympian Brendan Casey (QLD) came fourth.
Oliver Tweddell who won today’s medal race said after his race: 'I’m quite happy with second overall given I’ve taken a bit of a break since the Worlds. Right this moment I’m a little bit gutted I didn’t take the gold, we are always here to try and win, but second overall at Sail Melbourne is a pretty solid result.'
In the 470W fleet, ASS athletes Sasha and Jaime Ryan (QLD) and last year’s Sail Melbourne victors joined brother Will Ryan on the podium as they came second behind China.
'He always has to outdo us, but we are very happy for him. There was quite a bit of pressure for the whole family going into today’s racing, but we all had a great day and some successful racing,' Jaime Ryan commented on her brother’s win.
AST’s Sarah Cook and Carrie Smith (WA), Youth World Champion skipper in the 420 class – the youth feeder class for the 470, finished fifth overall in their first regatta together. Cook’s skipper Elise Rechichi (VIC) was not racing in Melbourne for medical reasons.
'Carrie and I have enjoyed this week. We only had one sail before the regatta started and Carrie is only just starting to learn how to sail the 470s. She’s done an amazing job and we are happy with the good result today, even though the overall result didn’t go quite as we had hoped for. But we are happy to leave it there for the year and get back into training in January', Sarah Cook reflected on their first event together.
In yesterday’s Paralympic boat class races, London 2012 Paralympics Gold medal Paralympian Liesl Tesch secured a win in the Skud18 with Duncan McGregor, while Paralympian Matt Bugg (TAS) came second in the 2.4mR.
'We went out and did exactly what we needed to do, plus, it’s my skipper’s birthday. So, it’s a good present and we are pretty happy with the outcome.' Liesl Tesch said after their race.
The medal races for the 49er, 49erFX, Men's and Women's RS:X and Nacra 17 fleets will be held tomorrow on Sunday 8 December 2013 .
Held at Sandringham Yacht Club, Melbourne, Australia from 2-8 December, the ISAF Sailing World Cup is the second stop of the 2013-14 ISAF Sailing World Cup series and features fleets across two Paralympic and ten Olympic events.
Fourteen Australian Sailing Team (AST) athletes and 30 Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) athletes in Olympic classes, including no less than three London Olympic gold medallists and four Olympic silver medallists as well as Paralympic gold medallist Liesl Tesch are competing on Port Phillip Bay amongst 581 competitors from 24 different countries around the world in what is considered Australia’s premier Olympic class sailing event.
ISAF Sailing World Cup website