by Craig Heydon
Semaine Olympique Francaise - Two Australian Sailing Team crews are set to race for medals on the final day of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyeres, France.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page racing in Hyeres - Semaine Olympique Francais
Laser sailor Tom Slingsby and 470 crew Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page will race in their classes final medal race on Friday as the fourth round of the Sailing World Cup comes to a close.
Slingsby is the best placed of the two and heads into the medal race second in the Laser class. The three-time World Champion bounced back after a tough day’s racing on Wednesday where he slipped from the lead to third, with his 10th on Thursday enough to move him up to second.
There’s plenty on the line for Slingsby in the medal race and while regatta leader Javier Hernandez of Spain has a 13 point lead, the third placed Croatian sailor is tied on points with Slingsby and the fourth placed Cypriot athlete is just a point further behind.
Slingsby reveled earlier in the week in the heavier breeze winning the first three races of the regatta and after some tough races in the light air in the middle of the regatta feels that he is continuing to improve in all conditions.
Tom Slingsby (AUS197541) Laser Standard - Semaine Olympique Francais 2011
'I have been working hard in the light and I have improved a lot,' said Slingsby. 'The important factor is consistency. The fleet is very good and today I have tried to close the gap between Javier and me.'
In the 470 men’s fleet Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page head into the final medal race in sixth position after a tough two races on the penultimate day of the regatta.
The 2010 World Champions finished with a 23rd and a 13th which saw them slip from third to sixth overall, and going into the medal race the pair are 10 points off the Bronze medal.
'It was another tough day for us and we found that we couldn’t get off the line again so we had no choice on which side to go,' said Page. 'We found ourselves back at both first marks but came back well but not well enough to stay in contention for the win.
'We can’t do anymore than try our hardest for the medal race and with not much pressure from behind it’s all in front of us,' he said. 'I think we can be a bit more risky and go for broke, if it works we could jump up towards the medals and Bronze is realistic.'
The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Katie Spithill, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty finished the regatta in 11th position, ahead of fellow Australians Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price in 16th.
Brendan Casey finished the regatta 26th in the Finn class following an 18th and a 15th on the final day of fleet racing.
In the Laser fleet Australian Sailing Team member Tom Burton finished the week 19th, ahead of Australian Sailing Squad members Ryan Palk and Ashley Brunning who were 33rd and 61st respectively.
Squad member Krystal Weir finished 19th in the Laser Radial class while fellow Squad members Sam Kivell and Will Ryan were 31st in the 470 men’s fleet.
In their first ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta together Tessa Parkinson and Marieke Jongens finished 30th overall.
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