Sunday, 13 March 2011

Belcher and Page Continue Dominance of 470 Class in Australia

Belcher and Page in Brisbane. Image copyright Victor Kovalenko.

by Craig Heydon

The Australian Sailing Team’s Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have won the 2011 470 Australian Championship, with a dominant display at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.

Belcher and Page, the reigning 470 World Champions and current world number one crew won eight out of the 10 races against the top 12 470 crews in Australia.

The 2011 Australian Championship win was the pair’s third straight together and the 10th year in a row that either Belcher or Page has been a part of the winning crew.

“We had a really good four days of racing up here in Queensland, Mat and I felt that we raced pretty well in some shifty conditions,” said Page. “We took away some lessons from the World Cup round in Miami in January and this week was the first chance we’ve had to get out in similar conditions and we made a step in the right direction.”

Belcher was also pleased with their performance on his home waters.

“After having five weeks out of the boat we were quite surprised with how quickly we got back into it,” said Belcher. “It’s given us good motivation heading to Europe for the next World Cup round in Spain in April.”

“The competition was close in all 10 races, the young crews are getting much better, putting a lot of time in on the water and it’s really showing during racing,” he said.

The Australian Sailing Squad crew of Sam Kivell and Will Ryan finished the regatta second overall, crossing the line in the top three in eight of the 10 races.

Kivell and Ryan had a consistent regatta and will take good form to Europe following a Bronze medal at Sail Melbourne in December, a 10th place finish at the North American 470 Championship and then a 13th at round two of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami.

Young Queensland sailors Angus Galloway and Alexander Gough were impressive throughout the regatta, having only sailed at 470 for the first time just prior to the regatta, eventually finishing fourth.

“Angus and Alex had only had a week in a 470 before racing here and improved out of sight by the end of the regatta,” said Page. “They are another great possible crew for the future and show the growing depth we have in the 470 class here in Australia.”

Galloway and Gough usually sail in the 420 class and will represent Australia at the ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Croatia in July, their second straight appearance at the world‚s top youth sailing event following a fifth in 2010.

A highlight of the week was the off-water activities at the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, including BBQs, coaching seminars and a popular Optimist sailing challenge.

“The 470 association is putting in a great effort to make the regatta fun both on and off the water,” said Belcher. “There is a great camaraderie amongst the fleet and it was good to be able to relax with all of the crews after racing, as it can get pretty intense out on the water.”

Belcher and Page return to the water in Queensland on Tuesday for a couple of days worth of training before heading to Europe for round three of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Spain.

Australian Sailing Team