ISAF Sailing Cup - Australian Sailing Team ready to take on Europe

SWC Palma Belcher and Ryan
Australian Sailing
2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca - Over 880 sailors from 55 nations will race at ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca, Spain – ‘Trofeo Princesa Sofia’ from 31 March to 5 April 2014. Palma de Mallorca is the fourth of five ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas and will see the world's top competitor's race across one Paralympic and ten Olympic events. The Australian Sailing Team will be represented in four of the Olympic events, while members of the Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) will race in eight of the events.

An experienced 80-boat fleet will compete in the Men’s 470 with Australian Sailing Team’s Mat Belcher (QLD) and Will Ryan (QLD) being once more the ones to watch.

Belcher and Ryan are back in Mallorca to defend their 2013 title and get back to winning ways. Their unbeaten 470M run came to an end at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, when World #3 Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) took the top spot. In Mallorca they will be joined by Argentina's Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente as the World #2 pair. World #4 Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) and World #5 Luke Patience (GBR) with new crew Elliot Willis complete this high caliber fleet.

Belcher, who was named skipper of Australia’s America’s Cup Challenger at the beginning of March, just returned to the boat after his first stint with Team Australia and is looking forward to the Olympic racing season:

'It certainly has been a busy period for myself, but I'm looking forward to starting our European Olympic season for 2014 off well in Palma. Palma is a great regatta, we really enjoy coming here and competing against the worlds best. We haven't done as much time in the boat as we would have liked, but we have a solid base to be working from. We will head towards Hyères after this event then travel back to Sydney to resume our AC45 program with Oracle for the month of May.'

While Australian Sailing Team’s Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen will kick-off their 2014 European campaign at the next World Cup in Hyères, Mallorca will see the women’s 49erFX crew of Caitlin Elks (WA) and Tess Llloyd (VIC) as well as Olivia Price (NSW) and Eliza Solly (VIC) take to the waters when racing commences on Monday, 31 March 2014. After Olivia Price and Eliza Solly won their first ISAF World Cup against a mostly domestic fleet in Melbourne in December last year, Mallorca will be the first bigger international test for the new combination.

'It will be the first time we’re racing against the world together, and since worlds last year for me, so I’m excited to get racing. Palma and Hyères are going to be good tests for us, putting in place our processes and racing strategies before coming to the major events later in the year', said Olympic Silver Medallist Olivia Price about the tasks ahead.

'We want to keep progressing in the way that we have over the Australian summer and focus on getting the most out of each other whilst racing. Racing under pressure is something we’re beginning to practice at the moment.'

With more than 70 boats entered, the Nacra17 fleet, the new Olympic mixed multihull class, has exceeded expectations for this regatta. The Australian Sailing Team will have three crews at the start line including 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne winners and Olympic medallists Darren Bundock (NSW) and Nina Curtis (NSW) who will do battle alongside Olympic medallist Lucinda Whitty (NSW) and Olympic medal winning coach turned athlete Euan McNicol (NSW) as well as former World Youth Champions Lisa Darmanin (NSW) and Jason Waterhouse (NSW), who finished sixth at the 2013 World Championships.

It is a strong Australian squad, who as Euan McNicol found pushes one another:

'As far as the squad goes, of course we push each other, all of us by nature are very competitive. It was great to have multiple boats training in Sydney and Melbourne over summer. Hopefully we can continue this approach and improve all of our performances to get up into the medals in the coming regattas. In Miami we gained some significant knowledge and practice against the best in the world, significantly in conditions which should be relevant to the Rio Games event.'

'While we do have each other to compare our performances to, for Lucinda and I it is always important to remain focused on what we can do to be better at this discipline, on the boat and in the campaign so we can create further development and progression. The results will follow when we get this process right.'

With one hundred and sixty boats registered, the Lasers will be the biggest fleet in Mallorca. The top ten sailors in the Laser ISAF World Sailing Rankings will be joined by a number of strong racers who will all be aiming for the podium places. World #2 Tom Burton (NSW) and Matt Wearn (WA) will represent the Australian Sailing Team in this fleet.

In the Finn class, Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) sailors Oliver Tweddell (VIC) and Jake Lilley (QLD) will take on the large fleet of over 100 boats. It will be a tough competition for current World #1 Oliver Tweddell and he’s aiming to make the most of it:

'My aim for the regatta is to work on my strategies and execution of tasks while under high pressure in such a big fleet. With all the top guys racing here it is going to be a great test to see how my training over the summer has paid off.'

'Obviously the main goal for this season is our performance at the ISAF Worlds, so all the events leading up to that are being targeted to improve key areas of my game. I would obviously love to keep picking up medals but in such a competitive fleet it is no easy task.'

The ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca is the starting gun of the 2014 European sailing calendar. It is also the next to last stage of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, following the event in Asia (Qingdao, China), Oceania (Melbourne, Australia) and America (Miami, United States). The next and last stop will be the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères, in France at the end of April (19-26 April 2014).

The Australian Sailing Team’s Women’s 470 crews as well as the Men’s 49er class will join the team for the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyères.

Hyères will see the full Australian Sailing Team race in Europe before crews continue onto individual events such as EUROSAF regattas as well as European Class Championships. The full team will head to the ISAF Sailing World Championships to be held in Santander in September, an event to decide half of the nation slots for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

For an overview of the Australian Sailing Team’s European season see here.

Australian Sailing is the performance arm of Yachting Australia in partnership with the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and with support from the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) and the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC).

The Australian Sailing Team is the national representative team for Olympic and Paralympic class sailing.

The Australian Sailing Squad is the development program of the Australian Sailing Team and provides the pathway from elite youth to Olympic level competition.
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