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Miami OCR - Aussies celebrate Australia Day in style

by Craig Heydon on 27 Jan 2012
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page racing in Miami - Photo Victor Kovalenko - Miami OCR Victor Kovalenko
At the Miami OCR Australian sailors have celebrated Australia Day in style. On day 4 of the second round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup there were wins aplenty.

The Australian Women’s Match Racing team crew of Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty won their way through to the semi-finals, Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page continue to the lead the 470s, Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch have taken the lead in the Skud 18s, Matt Bugg picked up his first win of the regatta in the 2.4mR and Brendan Casey holds down third in the Finns.


Price and crew went into day four with one round robin race remaining, knowing that they had to get the win to secure themselves a position in the quarterfinals.

The Australian trio got the job done in the morning with a win over their Argentinian opponents, setting up a quarter final against Russia’s Ekatrina Skudina. Price, Curtis and Whitty swept past the Russians with a three-nil win, and now will face American Sally Barkow in Friday’s semi-final.

'We had one race early up this morning and got a win against the Argentinians which left us second overall in our group,' said Whitty. 'Things went well in the quarterfinal and we managed to beat the Russians three-nil and make it through to the next stage. 'We’re continuing to learn each day out on the water and are looking forward to tomorrow’s racing against American Sally Barkow and her crew,' she said.

Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page take a four point lead into the final two 470 men’s fleet races following a sixth and a race win on Thursday. 'Conditions were quite difficult again today, very variable and around 10 to 12 knots,' said Belcher. 'We had a solid day which included a race win on Australia Day which is always nice.

'In the first race we weren’t quite set up right, we were expecting the breeze to be stronger and had a heavy wind setting so got caught out a bit,' he said. 'We changed the settings between races and immediately had more power and better speed.

'We started the race well, covered the fleet and found ourselves out in front at the top mark,' said Belcher. 'From then on we got some good lanes and were able to extend at the front.'

In the Skud 18 fleet Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch had a perfect day on the water, with a pair of races wins giving them the lead on a count back over their British competition. The Australian pair has now won five of the eight races this regatta and with just two races remaining will be keen to finish the regatta strongly.

Fitzgibbon and Tesch have had the winning feeling in Miami before, the crew won the 2011 event, their first ever regatta together. 'It always feels better when you win on Australia Day,' said Tesch. 'It was a bit windier than we thought it was going to be today but we’re continuing to learn as each race progresses.

'Tomorrow we need to hold our place and continue to sail fast,' she said.

Matt Bugg has moved himself up to eighth overall in the 2.4mR fleet following two strong race results on Miami’s Biscayne Bay. Bugg crossed the line seventh in race one before a great race win to round out the day.

The 2.4mR fleet is incredibly competitive with the smallest of margins separating the boats and Paralympic and able-bodied sailors racing against each other. 'Today for me was my best day so far with a seventh in the first race and a bullet in the second,' said Bugg. 'I’ve been really happy with my boat speed over the last couple of days and today I felt that I sailed well too.

'I got away cleanly off the start line and managed to tack in the right spots and stay in phase with the shifts,' he said. 'We had great breeze today with around 16 knots on our course and I like it a it fresher so it really felt like my sort of day. 'I’m really looking forward to the last day of the regatta, the fleet is really close in points between fifth and 10th so there’s heaps to play for,' he said.

In the Finn fleet Brendan Casey continues to hold down his third position after the opening eight races with a third and a sixth on Thursday.

With just two fleet races and the final 10-boat medal race remaining Casey is six points off second and one ahead of fourth. 'After another two races on the Finn course today I’m still holding onto third,' said Casey. 'The first race was really close and I couldn’t quite get past American Caleb Paine on the line.

'I had a good start and got myself into a good position,' he said. 'The top five guys were very close and I found myself in fifth, passing a few guys on the final downwind.

'In race two we had a change of course and the right paid, with two of the Canadians leapfrogging the fleet and finishing first and second,' said Casey. 'Overall it was a consistent day, I’m looking forward to the last two qualifying races before the medal race and fighting for a position on the podium.'

Racing continues in Miami on Friday, with the Paralympic classes wrapping up their regatta, with the Olympic classes having their medal races on Sunday.

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Australian Sailing Team website
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