by Craig Heydon
At the ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma, Australian sailors have made a winning with two crews ending day one at the top of the standings. The 470 men’s crew of Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan, and Laser sailor Tom Burton, excelled in strong winds and heavy seas to both claim two race wins to kick off their European seasons.
Belcher and Ryan on day one in Palma - 44th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre
Belcher and Ryan formed a new combination after the London 2012 Olympic Games and showed that their hard work at home has been worth it, with a share of the 470 men’s lead with Austrians Matthias Schmidt and Florian Reichstaedter, who sailed in the other fleet.
'It was a really enjoyable day out there today, only a limited number of classes were able to race due to the strong winds so it was great to be out there,' said Belcher. 'With two wins from two races we can’t ask for too much more than that.
'We certainly settled down more in the second race to maintain our rhythm in the boat. It was tough conditions with the second race getting up to 30 plus knots and it was the first time we’ve sailed in those conditions together, so we’re pretty happy to get around,' he said. 'We’ve only just started sailing together so we’re just enjoying the racing and trying to develop the best we can together. We’re still talking through how we’re going to gybe while racing so we have plenty to do.
'We know we’ve been sailing well but it’s nice to get the confirmation with a couple of wins today,' he said. 'But sailing is a marathon and tomorrow is another day, with different conditions, different wind direction, and racing different boats, so we’ll see what tomorrow brings.'
Tom Burton in the Laser fleet in Palma - 44th Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre
Tom Burton got his regatta off to a perfect start in the Laser class with two wins from two starts to end the day tied at the top of the ladder with Germany’s Philipp Buhl.
'The forecast for today was for 25 to 30 knots but surprisingly we left the beach in a lighter breeze,' said Burton. 'It built by the first start and ended up being a big hike off and some massive waves.
'I had some nice conservative starts towards the middle and had some nice speed to be in the game at the top mark and was first by the bottom mark in both races,' he said. 'The waves built quite a lot and the downwinds ended up being pretty fast and fun. I had a nice day with two firsts although with the new point system with qualifying only equal to one race the game won’t really start until day four.'
Burton is joined in the top 10 by fellow Australian Matthew Wearn who is in eighth following a third and an eighth and Jared West who is ninth after an 11th and a fourth.
Ashley Brunning and Ryan Palk are currently tied for 14th with Brunning finishing the day with an eighth and a sixth and Palk with a 17th and a sixth.
In the Finn class Brendan Casey is currently sixth, with fellow Australian Oliver Tweddell 16th and Jake Lilley 25th.
Casey crossed the line fourth in race one and ninth in race two in the 72 boat strong Finn fleet.
'Big wind and bigger waves were the call for the day in Palma,' said Casey. 'For me it was a solid opening day and I’m looking forward to further racing tomorrow.
'It will be interesting to see how the new racing format develops later in the week with the opening series only counting for one race at this event,' he said.
In the 470 men’s fleet new Australian pairing Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah are currently 31st, after a 12th and a 23rd, while Ashley Stoddart is 27th in the Laser Radial following a pair of 11th place finishes.
Patrick Vos is 15th in the RS:X men’s, with Joanna Sterling the leading Australian in the RS:X women’s, in seventh after a sixth and a ninth.
Paris Stowell and Annalise Gilbert did not complete either race on Monday.
Racing continues in Palma on Tuesday, with the final medal races to be held on Saturday 6 April.
Australian Sailing Team website
Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre