by Craig Heydon
Australian sailors have made a strong start to the 2013 Delta Lloyd Regatta in the Netherlands, with four crews ending the opening day of racing inside their respective top threes.
Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan finished the day with the perfect scorecard, three wins from three starts, to lead the 470 men, with Tom Burton first in the Lasers and Matthew Wearn third, while Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin are third in the Nacra 17.
Rain, fog and low temperatures made for a challenging day on the water at round two of the new EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup, but it certainly didn’t slow Belcher and Ryan down who continued their winning start to their Rio 2016 campaign.
The pair’s three wins from three starts have given them a seven point lead over New Zealand’s Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox with the third placed Croatian crew a further four points behind.
“It was nice to get the racing underway today,” said Belcher. “Although the temperature was below 10 degrees and raining we were able to get three quick races completed in the 10 to 15 knot breeze.
“It was a good day for Will and I, managing to win three from three,” he said. “It’s going to be a long event this week, with 12 races scheduled which will then only count for one place heading into the medal race, but Will and I are very happy with where we’re at with our development as a team.”
Tom Burton showed that consistency pays off in the Laser fleet, with a day of top three finishes leaving him at the top of the table, four points clear of local sailor Rutger van Schaardenburg, with fellow Australian Matthew Wearn one point behind in third.
“Today was a good day for me, we had pretty tough conditions with the breeze being very patchy and shifty,” said Burton. “I caught up well in the first race to pull back to finish third and then sailed a consistent day, finishing with a second and a third.
“After a week of a one sided race track in Garda it’s nice to come here, aside from the cold and rain, with the racing a bit more exciting and the conditions today definitely made for some good close racing,” he said. “Tomorrow and the rest of the regatta looks to be windier so I’m sure there will be some good hike-offs.”
West Australian sailor Matthew Wearn ended the day third following three top seven results, with a fourth, a seventh and a second leaving him five points behind his fellow Australian.
Ryan Palk is currently 13th, after a 16th and an 11th in the first two races Palk got into his groove in the final race of the day, crossing the line second. Jared West is in 15th, one place ahead of Ashley Brunning with Luke Elliott 58th.
In the Nacra 17 class Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin sit third overall after a second and a pair of sevenths.
“Today was a solid day for Lisa and I, we’ve laid a solid foundation to work on for the rest of the regatta,” said Waterhouse. “It was also a day of missed opportunities, we worked hard on our starts and rounded the top marks in great positions but both boat handling and tactical errors cost us podium places.
“We really excited for tomorrow as the forecast looks fresh and we’re looking forward to getting the boat up on the foils,” he said.
Josh McKnight and Nina Curtis are currently in 14th position, one place ahead of fellow Australians Pip Pietromonaco and James Wierzbowksi who are competing in their first Nacra 17 event.
“We had a solid start to the event today and are happy with our progression on the tricky conditions,” said Curtis. “We’re looking forward to improving our skills over the event, the fleet here is very strong and we’re hoping that the close racing will fast track our development in the new class.”
Euan McNicol and Lucinda Whitty ended day one in 17th position after finishing 14th in race one, 16th in race two and then unfortunately being forced to retire from race three due to boat issues.
Matthew Belcher and Will Ryan in Holland. Image copyright Thom Touw
Elise Rechichi and Sarah Cook are in seventh position in the 470 women’s class, with this week’s event just their second in Europe together. The pair began the day with a sixth, before finishing ninth in race two and sixth in race three. Fellow Australians Sasha and Jaime Ryan are currently 11th.
In the 470 men Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah are 10th overall, with Alexander and Patrick Conway 12th and Matthew and Robert Crawford 13th.
Oliver Tweddell is 20th overall in the Finn fleet, beginning the event with a 16th and an 18th, before being forced to retire from race three as he’s currently unwell.
Full results can be found at www.deltalloydregatta.org.