by Craig Heydon
On the final day of the ISAF Sailing World Cup round in Palma, Spain Australian sailors have won three medals.
Belcher and Page in the 470 Mens medal race - Sofia Mapfre
The 470 men’s crew of Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page won Gold, with Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty claiming the Bronze medal in the Women’s Match Racing competition and Tom Burton finishing third in the Laser class.
Belcher and Page went into the final, double point, medal race with a 14 point lead over the second placed Israeli crew with the Australians guaranteed at least a Silver medal. The current World Champions and world number ones didn’t rest on their laurels, pushing hard in the 10 boat medal race, eventually finishing second to take the win by 18 points, the first time they had won this regatta together.
'It was nice to be able to finish things off today,' said Belcher. 'We ended up second in the medal race but had some good opportunities to come away with the win, we were racing with the Greek crew the whole way and eventually they just got us at the line. 'We’re really happy to be able to come away with the win in our first event back in Europe, it shows that all of our hard work back home in Australia has paid off,' he said. 'We’re in a good rhythm now and know where we are against the rest of the fleet.
'Mal and I have improved in the lighter conditions, it’s good to know that we can hang in there and then capitalise in our preferred conditions, like today,' said Belcher.
Australia’s Women’s Match Racing crew of Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty has made it back-to-back World Cup medals with Bronze on Saturday following their Silver in January in Miami. Price and crew came up against hometown sailor Tamara Echegoyan in petit-final with the Australians getting out to an early lead.
The Spanish hit back to level the best of three Bronze playoff before the Australian trio took the win and the final place on the podium. The Australian trio sailed well all week in the variable conditions, topping their pool early in the week and then winning their way through to the semi finals.
Price, Curtis and Whitty fell at the semi final stage to eventual Gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe of the USA but rebounded well to win the Bronze medal.
Tom Burton won Bronze in the Laser class, leading the medal race from start to finish to end up just two points behind Great Britain’s Paul Goodison with Simon Grotelueschen of Germany winning Gold. 'Today was probably the breeziest day of the event with around 20 knots and big waves popping up,' said Burton.
'I had a really good start with some good speed, popped out and was first to the right hand side towards the top mark. From then I was first around the top and held on the whole way around.'
Burton was at the head of the fleet all week with the 21 year old sailing well in the light conditions that tested the best of sailors as well as the strong breeze on Saturday. 'I expected to be good in the breeze with all the breeze training we do in Sydney,' he said.
'Although we haven’t sailed in breeze for a while and I’m a little bit lighter at the moment so I’m very happy to be up to speed with the top guys. 'I’m really happy with how my preparations are going for the rest of the year as this was supposed to be a warm up event,' said Burton.
'As a preparation for the upcoming World Championships I don’t think it could be better, I feel I’m sailing really well and have the same if not better boat speed than most. So it’s all looking positive for me.'
In the 470 women’s fleet Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell finished fourth overall, just two points off the podium.
Rechichi and Stowell went into the medal race third overall in their first European regatta together, eventually crossing the line seventh in a close fought race.
The pair next head to round four of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyeres, France, before returning to Spain for the 2012 470 World Championships in May.
Krystal Weir finished the week fifth in the Laser Radial fleet with the Victorian sailor eighth in the medal race. Weir had a strong week in the tricky conditions picking up two race wins and another three top 10 finishes from the 10 fleet races.
Sam Kivell and Will Ryan were 10th overall in the 470 men’s, finishing the medal race in the same position.
The final race didn’t go quite to plan for Kivell and Ryan, with the pair breaking their main halyard on the second upwind, but they fought on until the finish and will take many positives away from a strong week’s racing.
The Australian Sailing Team next heads to France for round four of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyeres with racing between April 22 and 27.
Full results from Palma here
Australian Sailing Team website