Australian sailors sit on top of the world in two classes following the latest ISAF World Sailing Rankings that were released last night.
by Craig Heydon
The Australian Sailing Team’s two reigning world champion crews, 470 sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page, and Laser competitor Tom Slingsby, ended the latest cycle at the top of the respective classes.
Both crews held onto their number one rankings after beginning 2011 at the top of their classes with Belcher and Page leading the 470 rankings since August last year and Slingsby since September.
With less than a year and a half remaining until the 2012 London Olympic Games both crews are working towards the ultimate prize, a Gold medal.
Belcher and Page have had an amazing run together, finishing in the top six in every regatta they have competed in together, and have finished in the top two at the last five ISAF Sailing World Cup rounds, their most recent being a Silver medal in Miami last month.
'The news overnight that we’re still at the top of the rankings is great recognition of the consistency that Malcolm and I have had on the water since we teamed up,' said Belcher.
'Last year we were focused on getting ourselves to the number one position and this year it’s about cementing that position as we get closer and closer to the London Olympic Games,' he said.
'We’ve been working incredibly hard to be consistent at different events in different conditions to maintain our position at the top of the rankings,' said Belcher. 'In the 470 class it seems that the top crews are doing all of the events around the world, which is different to a lot of Olympic classes, so we’re racing against the top guys all the time which is great for gauging yourself and allows us to continually check in and see where we’re at.'
Three-time Laser World Champion Tom Slingsby woke up this morning expecting to have dropped a couple of positions as his two closest rivals, Paul Goodison and Nick Thompson of Great Britain, competed at the recent ISAF Sailing World Cup round while he remained in Australia to train.
'I expected to have been overtaken by Paul and Nick so to see that I’ve held onto the number one position was a pleasant surprise,' said Slingsby. 'It’s always good to have that number one position, we’re all gunning for that Gold medal which is the main goal but it’s nice to be in front at this stage.'
'Nick got one over me at Sail Melbourne in December where he won Gold and I finished with Bronze so it’s good to still have that number one and I’ll be looking for another win at the next World Cup round in Spain in April,' he said.
Slingsby’s rise to world number one has been a remarkable one following a rough ride during, and in the year after, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
Slingsby has bounced back in style, winning the 2010 Laser World Championship and four out of the last five ISAF Sailing World Cup rounds that he has competed in.
All three sailors are back at home for the next few weeks, with Belcher back working on the Gold Coast and Page and Slingsby competing in the upcoming Farr40 World Championship.
Belcher and Page will hit the water again in the first week of March to prepare for the 2011 470 Australian Championship which will take place at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron from March 8 to 12.
Belcher, Page and Slingsby will then hit the road, heading to Europe for the continuance of the ISAF Sailing World Cup with round three taking place in Spain in early April.
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7:35 AM Thu 10 Feb 2011 GMT
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