In the heaviest weather in which they have sailed as a combination London 2012 470 Gold Medallist Matt Belcher and his new crew Will Ryan twice took the gun in both of the first two split fleet races of the 44 Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofia Mapfre regatta, here in Palma, Mallorca today.
470’s on Day 1 - Trofeo Princesa Sofia Mapfre 2013
They surfed to victory in both races, in a solid onshore breeze, that gusted to 30 knots. There are 68 Men´s 470 crews racing here in Palma and when they look at the score sheets, many of the leading hopefuls for Rio will have heavy hearts with the realisation that once again Australia is mounting the most serious of Olympic 470 campaigns.
Second behind them in the yellow fleet was the German pairing of Jasper Wagner and Dustin Baldewein with a 2, 5 results. A good start for the Germans, whose best result on the World Cup to date so far has been a seventh at Hyeres in 2010 and an eighth in Kiel in 2012.
In the Blue fleet it was a double barrelled result for Austrian´s Matthias Schmid and Florian Reichstaedter, they were ninth at London 2012, with the new British pairing of 2012 Olympic silver medalist Luke Patience and crew 2004 and 2008 Olympic silver medal crew Joe Glanfield.
In the boat park Mat Belcher was smiling 'It was nice to get out there and start racing against the fleet, starting the campaign to Rio. We are here to see where we are and to have a bit of fun and try and build on our team work and our communication and just get used to things. It was a tricky day. The breeze picked up quite quickly. We were expecting a bit more in the first race so I think we ended up to having almost up to 30 knots at times. First day of the World Cup in Europe, a bit hairy but we managed pretty well to take two bullets.
Will Ryan, 'It was nice to settle the nerves a little bit and to get off on the right foot definitely puts you into a happier frame of mind going into the rest of the regatta for sure. This is my third Palma regatta but first with Matt. It is nice and cold again, plenty of waves. It’s a pretty challenging wind.'
Matt Belcher concluded, 'For a new team, we had a little bit on, that was definitely the strongest day that we have raced together. We thought we could play it safe around the course.
'Certainly we have definitely got a lot of room to improve in those conditions but pretty happy as you can see with the results.
'But the way the new experimental World Cup format is scored, it probably doesn’t really make a difference.
'Three days of qualifying will be scored if it was just one race as best we can tell and that can be a discard.'
The world´s most successful 470 coach Victor Kovalenko was full of praise for his Australian crew efforts but scathing of the new experimental World Sailing Cup format, which scarcely rewards such efforts. We will publish the Australian super coach’s detailed comments on the qualifying round then medal race format separately hopefully along with some comments from ISAF.
Mat Belcher Victor Kovalenko Will Ryan - image by Sail Melbourne (low-res 2)