Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Delta Lloyd Regatta : Belcher and Page win Gold for Australia at Sailing World Cup in Holland

Page and Belcher with their medals in Holland. Image copyright Victor Kovalenko.

by Craig Heydon

Australian sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have won the Gold medal in the 470 class at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Holland.

The reigning World Champions and current world number ones finished second in the final 10 boat medal race, claiming a 10 point win, their second ISAF Sailing World Cup round for the year.

“The medal race was always going to be difficult, we went into it with a 10 point lead but the race was held quite close to shore with winds between five and 25 knots at times and we knew it was about keeping the communications up and racing what we had,” said Belcher. “We wanted to stay close to our competition and it ended up being a very, very difficult race, there were a lot of changes in position, lots of nervous moments and we just tried to keep our calm throughout the race.”

The medal race was a tight affair with the Australians starting strongly but slipping back to sixth at one stage before fighting back in the closing stages to cross the line second.

“There were a few scary moments, we couldn’t let the Croatians get too far ahead as they were our main threats,” said Page. “We got to the first mark ahead and you think that the positions were pretty safe but it all went a little pear shaped on the first run and we took it back to basics, kept doing what were we doing and hopefully that would be good enough to bring us back through and luckily it was.”

The win in Holland was an important one for the pair as they continue to build towards the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Belcher and Page on the final day of 470 racing in the Netherlands. Image copyright Victor Kovalenko.

“This regatta was key for a number of reasons,” said Page. “Firstly it’s part of the World Cup series and it’s always great to win one of those, but it was also good to come to Europe and win one of the major regatta, that puts some stripes on our shoulders as we know we can match it with any of the guys here.

“We need to keep on developing ourselves as we head towards London 2012 as the Games are now only just less than a year away and we need to keep on chipping away and make ourselves better and better,” he said.

Day five of racing in Holland was again dominated by heavy winds, with gusts up towards 30 knots keeping the majority of fleets on shore.

The 470 fleet managed to complete one race in the morning, with Belcher and Page taking the win, their sixth top three race finish of the regatta. Fellow Australians Sam Kivell and Will Ryan finished 12th in the early race, qualifying for their first European medal race, where they went on to finish eighth and eighth overall in the competitive fleet.

Tom Slingsby continued his dominance of the Laser fleet with another two races wins in the heavy breeze.

The triple World Champion has won six of the nine races contested so far at this regatta and heads into the final medal race with an 18 point lead over Bruno Fontes of Brazil.

Slingsby is guaranteed at least a Silver medal and will be keen to take his form from the fleet races into the medal race and win back-to-back Delta Lloyd Holland Regattas.

The current world number one will be joined in the medal race by Australian Sailing Squad member Ryan Palk who is currently eighth overall.

Squad member Ashley Brunning ended the day 12th in the Laser fleet, ahead of Tom Burton in 19th, Jared West in 26th, James Burman in 41st, Ki-Raphael Sulkowski in 50th and Mark Whittington in 76th.

Young Queensland sailor Ashley Stoddart will head into her first medal race on Sunday, after finishing seventh in the Laser Radial fleet.

Stoddart continued her good run on Saturday with an eighth and a ninth to cement her spot in the top 10.

Gabrielle King finished the day 11th in the same fleet.

The 49er, Finn, RS:X and 2.4mR fleets did not get a chance to race today due to the strong winds with a number of Australian crews in good positions heading into the medal races.

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen are second in the 49er class, eight points behind first with just the double-point final race remaining. The pair has finished in the top three in seven of the nine races so far this regatta as they aim for their third straight victory in Holland.

Brendan Casey is third in the Finn class, just six points behind the Silver medal position and 16 clear of fourth.

In the RS:X class Jessica Crisp is third overall well within reach of the regatta win, with fellow Australian Allison Shreeve just four points behind in fourth.

Matt Bugg sits fourth in the 2.4mR class, tied on points with third with just a race left to contest.

Page and Belcher on the podium in the Netherlands. Image copyright Victor Kovalenko.

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