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470 Australian National Championships at Wangi RSL Amateur Sailing Club

by Megan McKay 12 Feb 2017 23:17 PST 10-12 February 2017

Rio Silver Medallists, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan have won the 470 Australian National Championships held at Wangi RSL Amateur Sailing Club on Lake Macquarie from 10-12 February. The Women's title was won by 2016 Olympian Carrie Smith and crew Amelia Catt.

As NSW sweltered in the heat, the sailors enjoyed some mixed conditions over the regatta, with strong seabreezes coming in across the weekend.

"We've had some really good seabreezes," said Ryan at the conclusion of racing on Sunday. "It was really warm, but the racing was very close and quite interesting and we all really enjoyed it."

For Belcher and Ryan it was the first time they had sailed together in a 470 on Ryan's home waters of Lake Macquarie.

"It was a really good week for us," said Belcher. "We didn't have a lot of preparation, but to come away with another national championship win was a good achievement.

"We're really enjoying how the 470 fleet is progressing, and it's great to be able to spend some time with some of the younger sailors. That's our focus this year."

Meanwhile Rio 2016 Olympian Carrie Smith teamed up with Amelia Catt for the event. The pair finished second overall, and won the women's national title.

"It was a great event," said Smith. "Unfortunately I didn't have Jaime crewing with me, but I had a great time with Amelia. We came away with a second overall and the national title for the girls, which we were pretty happy with."

2017 AUS 470 Nationals - WrapPosted by Australian Sailing Team on Sunday, 12 February 2017

The event attracted a fleet of 10 boats, and included several Australian Sailing Team and Squad members including the Conway brothers, Patrick and Alexander (fourth place), and Victoria's Tom Klemens and Tim Hannah (fifth place). Chris Charlwood and Josh Dawson were the first juniors and finished third overall. Olympic 470 coach, 'medal-maker' Victor Kovalenko was also at the event working with the athletes.

The Sailor Girl gets sailing too! (from Nic Douglass)

I took part in the 470 Nationals over the weekend, sailing with my Dad. We were not as prepared as the coached squad of nine boats, but we were keen. Dad was possibly double the age of any other sailor, and had never crewed, and I had not been on a 470 for five years. We were seriously under done, but we were on site to support the class that continually gives back to Australian Sailing.

I have to say that I was seriously impressed by the quality of the squad from around Australia that were taking part to push the winners in the Men's, silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, and Australian Olympic representative Carrie Smith, with stand in crew, Amelia Catt in the women's.

I caught up with both the men and female winning skippers, and gave Emma Baillie, a crew from the Queensland Academy of Sport the chance to interview me (as promised).

Thanks to all for having us, for the camaraderie, and the tips all weekend. My boat is still for sale, and I have to say she performed brilliantly this weekend keeping us in touch even when we were so under prepared.

Cheers, Sailor Girl

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