Australian sailors Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan will race for gold at the 2013 470 European Championships in Italy on Saturday as they attempt to extend their amazing winning streak.
Belcher and Ryan head into the eight boat medal race in second position, tied on points with the leading French crew of Soifan Bouvet and Jeremie Mion and 11 points clear of the third placed British pair.
The Australians will be out to make it an eighth straight regatta together since teaming up at the end of 2012, with Belcher’s winning run stretching back a further year.
Light winds kept the crews on shore on Friday morning, with one race eventually completed. The Australians finished third in that race, giving them a share of the overall lead heading into the double-points final.
'Today was pretty tough, very light and patchy on the course,' said Belcher. 'To come away with a third was a really good result, allowing us to close the gap on the French crew.
'We’re looking forward to the medal race, it’s a very close situation tomorrow but that’s the racing we enjoy,' he said. 'Will and I have been very pleased with how we’ve performed here, we’ve learned a great deal. We’ll see if we can keep the streak alive tomorrow!'
Ryan said that the conditions on Friday made for a challenging race.
'We had the lightest winds of the event so far today,' said Ryan. 'It started as a weak seabreeze which looked promising but instead slowly became less and less as the day went on.
'We sailed really well to finish third after finding ourselves on the back of the top group,' he said. 'This event has allowed us to continue to learn and to experience another side to our racing which has been really positive.
'We’re looking forward to tomorrow’s medal race,' said Ryan. 'With eight boats racing it will be a different experience to the six boat final we had at our last event and the previous Olympic format with 10 boats.'
Fellow Australians Matthew and Robert Crawford finished the week in 23rd position, after a 17th in Friday’s only race.
Alexander and Patrick Conway were 48th, with Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah 58th and Scott Cotton and Tim Potter 62nd.
Elise Rechichi and Sarah Cook finished 13th at their first 470 European Championship together, having only teamed up at the end of last year.
Rechichi and Cook finished 13th in Friday’s race in light conditions, with the pair having faced almost every conditions imaginable in their short time together in Europe.
Sisters Sasha and Jaime Ryan finished 26th, with Lucy Shephard and Aurora Paterson 35th at their first international 470 event together.
by Craig Heydon
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2:24 AM Sat 15 Jun 2013GMT
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