by Craig Heydon
ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma 2013. Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan have retaken the lead in the 470 men’s class as the competition enters the finals series in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
Belcher and Ryan lead the 470 fleet heading into the finals of ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma
Light winds kept the crews onshore on Wednesday morning but when the breeze finally filled in Belcher and Ryan were the standout Australian performers, with a win and a second moving them back into first overall.
'Today was a difficult day,' said Belcher. 'The fleet was a lot more dense and there wasn't much separating everyone with the breeze between seven and 10 knots.
'The conditions each day, and for every race, have been very different,' he said. 'So for us coming here it has been great to have the full range of conditions. We’re happy with how we’re sailing and it’s good to be able to test where we’re at.'
A new point score system is being tested at this event, with crews being ranked at the end of the qualifying series and carrying their position represented as a point through to the finals. Belcher and Ryan’s first place means that they head into the finals one point clear of Great Britain’s Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield.
'With the new format the racing from these past three days hasn't really been rewarded but it’s nice to go into the finals with an advantage, even if it may now only be one point,' said Ryan. 'The three days have provided a variety of conditions which has been good as it’s given us an opportunity to experience and learn from a range of racing situations that we may not have had otherwise back home.
'But tomorrow the fun begins with the real racing getting underway which we’re both looking forward to,' he said.
Tom Burton continues to lead the way for Australia in the Laser class, finishing the qualifying series fourth overall. Burton had a pair of eighth place finishes in the lighter conditions on Wednesday to be right behind the leaders heading into the finals.
'Today started with a postponement and we eventually left the shore in a soft breeze,' said Burton. 'It was all about starts today which I struggled with but managed to come away with a two eighths which is not a disaster.
'The results leave me tied on points with third going into tomorrow which is still right in the game with a few days to go,' he said.
Fellow Australian Matthew Wearn has continued his strong run in Palma and is just one position behind Burton in fifth.
Wearn, who is also currently the leading youth sailor at the event, had a 16th and a fifth to be just two points behind Burton after six races.
Ashley Brunning has moved into 10th overall, with Ryan Palk just behind in 12th and Jared West in 19th.
Brendan Casey is currently 12th in the Finn fleet, ahead of Jake Lilley in 24th, with Lilley finishing the day with his best result of the regatta so far, a 14th. Oliver Tweddell has been forced to pull out of the event due to an injury.
Ashley Stoddart is 20th in the Laser Radial class while Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah are 36th in the 470 men’s fleet.
In the RS:X women’s class Joanna Sterling is the leading Australian in 10th, ahead of Annalise Gilbert and Paris Stowell, in 21st and 22nd respectively. Patrick Vos is 35th in the RS:X Men’s.
Finals series racing will be held in Palma on Thursday and Friday, before the medal races on Saturday.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit Australian Sailing Team and follow the team on Twitter at Australian Sailing Team Twitter