by Craig Heydon
Australian sailors have won two gold medals on the final day of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyeres, France, with Tom Burton claiming a come from behind Laser gold while Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan continued their dominant run to win the 470 men's class.Persistent rain and incredibly light winds made for two challenging Laser medal races with Burton starting the day third overall, behind Croatia’s Tonci Stipanovic and dual Olympic gold medallist Robert Scheidt of Brazil.
Burton came out on top after finishing fourth in medal race one, and sixth in race two, giving him gold by nine points over Scheidt with Stipanovic third.
“It feels good to win here, after not having the best result in qualifying I wanted to be back in the game and got there right on the last day with some consistent results,” said Burton. “One of my goals for the season was to retain my world number one ranking and win the ISAF Sailing World Cup again so it’s all looking good at the moment.
“The conditions today were very soft and tricky, after waking up this morning to see some nice wind the rain came in and the breeze swung and died,” he said. “Our first race was in about five knots, but the second started in around three knots and glassed out halfway through.
“Although it was looking like a joke at some points it was something I was a little familiar with after Sail Melbourne in 2010 which was my first major podium where I beat Tom Slingsby in similar conditions,” said Burton. “I had great starts in both races and was able to put a little pressure on the other guys from the get go. I was up in second in the final race but fell out of the pressure on the last run to lose a few boats but made sure I would stay in front of the main guys.”
Burton was joined in the medal races by fellow Australian Ryan Palk who moved up from his overnight ninth to finish the regatta eighth overall.
Palk was at the front of the fleet in both races, finishing third and fourth in the light conditions in his fourth straight ISAF Sailing World Cup round medal race.
Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan went into the final day with a 16 point lead at the head of the 470 men’s fleet but with two double point medal races scheduled knew they would have to keep racing hard to finish on the top step of the podium.
Belcher and Ryan did exactly that, winning both medal races in the best breeze of the day to claim gold by 32 points over local sailors Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion.
“It was a long day of waiting for us but we were fortunate to certainly get the best breeze of the day,” said Ryan. “Race one was non-pumping and we were able to have a good start to be in the top group at the top mark, Mat did a great job weaving us a nice pathway downwind in the fickle pressure and we were able to lead around the bottom mark and for the rest of the racing, sealing the win for us.
“It opened the second race for us as we were able to just go out there and have fun,” he said. “You always sail your best when you’re enjoying it and we were able to lead from start to finish and extend throughout the race for a great win.”
“It’s certainly great to have the racing form that we have at the moment, and to be able to continue Mat’s winning streak which goes back to November 2011 is something special and not something that has done before at such a high level,” said Ryan. “Racing here is still about building our skills as a team and this event gave us a big range of wind conditions which was great from that perspective. We had some tough races which required us to dig deep and it’s nice to find that element to our sailing.”
Oliver Tweddell contested his first European ISAF Sailing World Cup Finn medal race on Saturday with the 22-year-old finishing the regatta in 10th position.
Tweddell was 10th in race one and sixth in race two, an impressive finish as he continues to recover from an arm injury.
Full results are available at http://swc.ffvoile.com/.