by Craig Heydon
Kieler Woche. Australian sailors have won five medals at the final round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Kiel, Germany, with the medal haul made up of two Gold, two Silver and a Bronze.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page at the final day of Kieler Woche 2011
Gold medals were won by 470 men’s crew Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page and RS:X sailor Jessica Crisp, Silvers by Krystal Weir in the Laser Radial and the Women’s Match Racing crew skippered by Nicky Souter, with fellow Match Racer Olivia Price winning Bronze.
Belcher and Page’s dominance of the 470 class continued right through until the final race, with the reigning World Champions winning the medal race to bring home the Gold medal by a massive 31 points.
'The racing was good here all week and it was nice to come away with the win at the end of it,' said Belcher. 'Coming into the event we were planning to focus on ourselves and our continued development and to have the world number two and three crews here gave us a good opportunity to see where we’re at.
'We had a 15 point lead going into the race so there was still plenty of work to do but to be honest I was more nervous watching my wife Rike compete in the 470 women’s medal race which was on just before us,' he said. 'Once we got racing we sailed well in the shifty conditions and came home with a win, to beat the world number two and three by so many points shows that we’re doing something well.'
The pair won seven of the nine races on their way to the Gold medal, coach Victor Kovalenko’s 16th overall win in Kiel, with the crew also winning the Kiel Week trophy, for the lowest point scoring team across all of the competing classes.
The win also assured Belcher and Page of their second straight ISAF Sailing World Cup title with three Gold and two Silver medals across the seven round series.
'We started the season well at home and in Miami but then struggled a little when we came to Europe,' said Belcher. 'To get back on track while on the rollercoaster over here and pick up two wins and a second from the final three events was important for us.'
Fellow Australian Jessica Crisp won Gold in the RS:X women’s class, sailing incredibly consistently all week to take the title by seven points.
RS X W Jesscia Crisp on her way to gold at Kieler Woche 2011
The three-time Olympian finished third in the final medal race and showed that consistency pays off, winning the regatta without winning a race, finishing in the top five in 10 out of the 11 races.
Crisp’s win was also an important milestone as she works towards selection for the Australia team to compete at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The Bronze medalist from this event last year headed into the medal race with just a single point over second but sailed well in the shifty conditions to finish ahead of Blanca Manchon of Spain, the current female ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year.
Crisp’s win in Germany also gave her the Silver medal in the final ISAF Sailing World Cup standings.
The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty faced off against Russian skipper Ekaterina Skudina in the best of five races final.
The Australians eventually lost three race wins to one but skipper Souter was happy with their Silver medal in just their second regatta together as a crew.
'We’re very happy with the result, we had a tough route to the finals with wins over the number one seeded Americans and then our fellow Australians but today the Russians just sailed really well,' said Souter. 'To win a Silver medal after just a few weeks of sailing together as a crew was a great achievement for us against some strong competition.
'Over the last week we’ve learnt a lot about the competition and a lot about ourselves and are looking forward to the continuing into the next regatta,' she said.
Krystal Weir won Silver in the Laser Radial class following her third place finish in the medal race.
Weir went into the final race third overall, in a tight battle for second, third and fourth, but her third in the double-point 10 boat race gave her the Silver medal.
The Victorian sailor had a consistent week, finishing in the top eight in every race, sailing well in the varied conditions which challenged all of the crews.
Olivia Price and crew claimed the Bronze medal in the Women’s Match Racing competition following a two-nil win over American Genny Tulloch in the petit-final.
The trio had a great week on the water, finishing the qualifying round-robin fourth overall and winning their way through to a semi-final match up against Nicky Souter and crew. Price missed out on a place in the final but the Bronze medal win is impressive in just her third ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta as a skipper.
While he did not compete in Kiel, Australia’s three-time World Champion Tom Slingsby won the ISAF Sailing World Cup in the Laser class following his two wins, a second and two thirds in the seven round series.
Sam Kivell and Will Ryan finished the week sixth in the 470 men’s class following their third place finish in the final medal race.
The pair’s third in Kiel meant that they finished sixth overall in the ISAF Sailing World Cup standings in the highly competitive 470 fleet.
In the Laser Radial class Gabrielle King’s fourth in the medal race moved her up one place overall to sixth, while Laser sailors Ryan Palk and Tom Burton were seventh and 10th respectively in their class.
RS:X women’s sailor Allison Shreeve was eighth in her medal race and finished the week in the same position overall.
Australian Sailing Team website
Kieler Woche website