by Craig Heydon
Race wins for Australian Sailing Team members in the 470, Laser, Women’s Match Racing and 49er classes on day three of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Weymouth, England.
Belcher and Page in Weymouth day three - Skandia Sail for Gold
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page scored perfect two wins from two starts sailing exceptionally well in the tough conditions and now lead the 470 class by four points.
'It doesn’t get too much better than that,' said skipper Belcher. 'I guess the only thing we’d like is for the weather to be a little warmer but you can’t have everything. Weymouth really turned it on today, as it does, we’ve had a real mix of conditions this week and it’s about trying to do as well as you can in the conditions and hopefully get those wins.'
Belcher and Page are the reigning World Champions and currently ranked world number ones.
Day three marks the end of the qualifying series with the fleets now splitting into Gold and Silver groups for the final two days of fleet racing, with Saturday hosting the final 10 boat medal race.
'We’ve had the habit in the last few regattas of going from qualifying to Gold fleet in first and then stuffing it up,' said Page. 'Hopefully we can keep rolling on this week and avoid doing that here. It’s been great to improve on our position after each day, the real racing starts from tomorrow.'
In the Laser fleet Tom Slingsby ended the day third overall, just a point behind the joint leaders after a win and a fifth place finish in the heavy winds which tested all of the sailors.
'I actually felt that I sailed a bit better today than I did yesterday, the results are fairly similar but I felt better in the boat,' said Slingsby. 'I’m in the hunt for the win heading into the Gold fleet, all of the top guys racing together will sort things out and hopefully I’ll have a good day and we’ll see where we end up.'
Fellow Australian Sailing Team member Tom Burton has moved up to 12th following a fourth and a 23rd.
The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty completed two races of the Gold fleet round robin and got off to the perfect start in the seeding round with two wins from two starts.
'Sailing in the big breeze today was probably the most fun I’ve had sailing in a long time, it was great to change up the conditions a bit and test everyone out,' said Souter. 'We haven’t raced against the top crews for some time so it was good to mix things up and get a chance to see where we’re at with our crew work and boat work and learn as much as possible in the seeding rounds before we get to the quarter-finals.'
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen completed two races in the 49er fleet with the 2009 World Champions recording a third and a race win before heavy winds sent the crews back to shore with no further racing possible.
'Our third place finish this morning came after a bit of a fight back after having to do penalty turns on the first beat after an incident with another boat so we were happy to get back into the top three,' said Outteridge. 'After a bit of time back on shore we went out again for one quick race and we got a bullet so it was a good day in fresh conditions.'
Jensen is looking forward to the challenge of racing against the leading crews in the Gold fleet beginning on Thursday morning.
'The Gold fleet is a great indication of where you sit, you see everything play out on the water, it’s not about coming in to shore and watching the other fleet go about their business and then try and work out what it all means,' he said.
The pair ended the day sixth overall after the race they won was not counted in the final results as the other 49er fleet were not able to complete a race on day three.
In the Finn class Brendan Casey has worked his way up to 20th overall following a 15th and a 21st in the day’s two races.
New Australian pairing Tessa Parkinson and Belinda Stowell ended the day 42nd in the 470 women’s fleet.
Unfortunately the strong breeze kept the Skud 18 Paralympic class on shore today, meaning that Australian’s Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch continue to lead the way after three races, with Jamie Dunross and Rachael Cox third and Ame Barnbrook and Lindsay Mason ninth.
The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Rayshele Martin were also unable to race on day three, with the trio hoping to continue their solid form from yesterday into the Silver fleet.
Australian Sailing Squad member James Burman is 17th in the Laser fleet, ahead of Ryan Palk in 26th, Jared West in 49th, Ki-Raphael Sulkowski in 62nd and Mark Whittington in 120th.
470 sailors Sam Kivell and Will Ryan are in 25th following a sixth and a 12th, ahead of Alexander and Patrick Conway who are 65th overall.
Will and Sam Phillips are 11th in the 49er fleet, with Tom Johnson and Rhys Mara, and Steve Thomas and Nick Brownie 33rd and 34th respectively.
In the Laser Radial fleet Krystal Weir is the leading Australian in 21st, with Gabrielle King 35th and Ashley Stoddart 39th and Caitlin Elks 77th. Weir, King and Stoddart all had solid results in the strong breeze.
The Australian Sonar crew of Colin Harrison, Russell Boaden and Rod Angwin finished the day in fifth.
Allison Shreeve jumped up to 19th in the RS:X women’s class following two third place finishes on Weymouth harbour, ahead of Jessica Crisp in 21st and Joanna Sterling in 53rd.
In the RS:X men’s Tim Gourlay is 55th, Jimmy Levy 59th, Luke Baillie 66th and Patrick Vos 75th.
Australia’s 2.4mR class sailor Matt Bugg remains in 11th place after the class stayed on shore due to the heavy winds.
Oliver Tweddell is 26th in the Finn class, with Rob McMillan 39th, Tim Castles 40th and Shaun Wells 55th.
Racing continues at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta on Thursday, for more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit here