'Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan in La Rochelle at the 470 World Championship'
© Victor Kovalenko
At the 2013 470 World Championship Australia’s Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan have made a winning start in La Rochelle, France, ending day one at the top of the leader board
The pair, competing at their first World Championship together since teaming up at the end of 2012, won the opening two races of the day and finished second in race three, to be five points clear of France’s Pierre Leboucher and Nicholas Le Berre.
'It was a good day for us, great to start a World Championship in this way but it’s still very early days,' said Belcher. 'The format with this event is that we only carry a place into the final series, so all of our scores over the opening two days will count as one race in the finals.
'Regardless of that Will and I are happy with our performances and are learning a lot every day. We’re happy with how things are going,' he said. 'We weren’t expecting the breeze to build as it did, with it getting up to between 15 and 20 knots which was a pleasant surprise. Tomorrow we’re expecting lighter winds so we’ll see how it goes.'
While the 2013 470 World Championship is the first that Belcher and Ryan have competed in together Belcher is campaigning for his fourth straight title, following wins with former crew Malcolm Page in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Belcher and Ryan’s opening day also provided the perfect birthday present for coach Victor Kovalenko.
Fellow Australians Alexander and Patrick Conway ended the day in 15th position following three good results in La Rochelle.
The brothers began their World Championship with an eighth, going on to win race two and finish 10th in race three.
Matthew and Robert Crawford also enjoyed a good opening day and are currently 23rd in the 114-boat fleet after a ninth, a seventh and an 11th.
Scott Cotton and Tom Potter are in 66th position following a 28th, a 23rd and a 17th.
In the women’s fleet Jacqueline Gurr and Amelia Catt are the leading Australians in 17th position, beginning the event with a 12th, a 14th and a seventh.
Elise Rechichi and Sarah Cook are just behind in 20th overall in their first World Championship together.
Rechichi and Cook were fifth in the opening race of the day, finishing 23rd in race two after gear failure but coming back well to be 10th in race three.
'It was a solid start for us today, unfortunately we had a significant breakage in race two which gave us a 23rd,' said Cook. 'The breeze was much stronger than we’ve experienced in La Rochelle thus far, but we were stable which was the aim for the different conditions.'
Sisters Sasha and Jaime Ryan are currently 29th overall, with the pair finishing the day with a 20th, a 13th and a 12th.
Lucy Shephard and Aurora Paterson ended day one in 46th, with the pair competing in just their third overseas event together. Shephard and Paterson were 21st in race one, 23rd in race two and 20th in race three.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit Australia Sailing Team website and follow the Team on Twitter website
by Craig Heydon
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5:45 AM Tue 6 Aug 2013GMT
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