by Craig Heydon
ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma 2013. Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan have kicked off finals series racing in Palma, Spain in perfect style with three wins from three starts in the 470 men’s fleet.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma - Belcher and Ryan racing on Day 4
Belcher and Ryan went into the finals series with the regatta lead and excelled in their first day of racing against the top crews, with the three wins giving the pair an eight point lead over Great Britain’s Luke Patience and Joe Glanfield.
'We definitely could not have had a better way to start the finals,' said Ryan. 'The gold fleet racing always brings with it a higher level of competition so we knew we had to lift our level today if we wanted to do well.
'We had three long races in 10 to 16 knots which was at times a little unstable so our plan was to try and keep it a bit safe, but it is racing so we are always trying to push it at the same time,' he said. 'It was really good to have all the top guys in the one fleet and to get a feeling for the level of the fleet and our level of development. For sure we had a good day today but it’s a process and tomorrow is another day, and then we have two double point medal races on Saturday so the regatta virtually starts again.'
Belcher said that they’re happy with their progress, given this is the first European regatta of a new campaign.
'We were quite confident in how we were sailing Australia so we knew we would be somewhere towards the top here,' said Belcher. 'But it’s early days and there are many new crews and teams are just starting the season.
'We’re enjoying ourselves and looking forward to what tomorrow will bring,' he said.
Tom Burton has moved into second overall in the Laser fleet after three finals series races. The current world number one is just a point behind leader Tonci Stipanovic of Croatia following two seconds and a fifth on Thursday.
'I had a nice start to the finals,' said Burton. 'We had around 12 to 20 knots today and I had some nice upwind speed to lead in the first two races. Unfortunately I dropped a place in both races to eventually finish second.
'The final race of the day was very close at the front and for the first time I was able to take some places down the last run to finish fifth,' he said.
Matthew Wearn is currently in seventh position, with the West Australian teenager having a 15th, 26th and a sixth in the day’s three races.
Ashley Brunning holds down 12th in a tight bunch of sailors, with Brunning currently tied on points with ninth, with three fleet races and two medal races remaining. Ryan Palk is currently 16th with Jared West 26th.
In the Finn class London 2012 Olympian Brendan Casey is in 10th position after a seventh, a ninth and an 18th. Jake Lilley, a newcomer to the Finn fleet, is currently 27th.
Ashley Stoddart has moved up to 18th overall in the Laser Radial fleet, with the Queenslander finishing the day with an 18th, a 17th and an 11th.
In the 470 men’s class Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah are fifth in the silver fleet, after a 13th and a pair of sixth place finishes.
Joanna Sterling continues to be the best placed Australian in the RS:X women’s class in ninth overall, ahead of Paris Stowell in 18th and Annalise Gilbert in 24. Patrick Vos is 37th in the RS:X men’s.
Full results are available at: ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma
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