by Craig Heydon
Four Australian crews will race for gold in three classes at the 2013 Delta Lloyd Regatta following another day of good results in Medemblik, Holland.
Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan will contest the 470 men’s medal race with Tom Burton and Matthew Wearn making the top six in the Laser class and Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin to race for medals in the Nacra 17.
Sailors again faced challenging conditions in Medemblik as the temperature dropped to just three degrees on the water with a strong breeze adding to the discomfort.
On Saturday Belcher and Ryan will be out to continue their 100 per cent winning record together and extend Belcher’s unbeaten streak, which stretches back to November 2011.
The pair got off to the perfect start on Friday with back-to-back wins ensuring they would head into the medal race first overall. Belcher and Ryan won seven of the 10 races, with the points gap allowing them to sit out the third and final race of the day and still be first overall.
The point score system being used at this event sees the top six head into the final race, with their points from four days of racing being wiped and replaced with a point based on their current position. This means that Belcher and Ryan will carry one point into the race and the sixth placed French crew will take through six, which will be added to their finishing place on Saturday to determine the medallists.
“It was another good day for us today, the conditions again were very testing with temperatures of three or four degrees and rain,” said Belcher. “Today we had a lot of rain squalls come through which made the racing difficult. With large shifts and pressure differences the racing was entertaining with the committee doing a good job with what they had.
“The breeze was getting quite strong towards the end of the second race, up above 25 knots,” he said. ‘We made the decision to save our equipment and head in, It’s always a nice position to be in if you can do this. We’ll see how we end up after the medal race tomorrow.”
Men's 470 crew Matthew Belcher and Will Ryan will race for gold. Image copyright Sander van der Borch
Tom Burton and Matthew Wearn made sure there would be two Australian boats in the Laser medal race with another consistent day of racing.
Burton will head into the final in first position following a second, a 14th and a third on Friday, while Wearn was on the move, climbing from his overnight fifth to be third overall.
Wearn was sixth in the opening race of the day, before finishing eighth in race two and second in race three and will head into the medal race just behind Burton and Andy Maloney of New Zealand.
“We started off in a bit of a softer patch today and I used some nice shifts and finished the race second,” said Burton. “The breeze picked up for the next race and after a lot of sitting around shivering we got away, I didn’t have the best of starts and ended up using my drop with a 14th. In the last race I ended up getting a third with Andy Maloney fourth, leaving me in front on the scoreboard by one point.
“Going into tomorrow I’m feeling good about how I’m sailing even though I haven’t won a race all week,” he said. “The worst outcome with this point score system happened to me last week in Garda so I’ll be trying to redeem myself from that a little, but as usual with just one race anything can happen so I’ll just try and sail well and see what happens.
“This new system places a lot of pressure on the guys leading and very little pressure on the guys behind,” he said. “So it’s about trying to minimise the risk and still take some risks at the same time because the guys behind who can still win will put it all on the line for the big prize. I’m sure there will be some frustrating moments to come tomorrow.”
Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin will be out to make it a second straight medal in the new Nacra 17 class, with the pair heading into the final in fifth position.
Waterhouse and Darmanin were over the line early in race one before finishing 13th in race two and fourth in the final race of the day, securing themselves a place in the final.
“It was another tough day on the water, not only with freezing temperatures but shifty, gusty, conditions making for challenging racing,” said Darmanin. “We were happy with our overall speed today which was a good improvement from yesterday. However, we struggled to keep our heads out of the boat in the first two races, which lead to some not so good results.
“The last race was better and we got off the line nicely, had great speed and were more proactive with our strategy,” she said. “This regatta has been a great learning experience, we’ve learnt a lot about the boat in regards to what works well and what doesn’t in the choppy and windy conditions. We’re looking forward to our second medal race in the Nacra 17 with the experimental format allowing for anything to happen.”
Josh McKnight and Nina Curtis were the next best placed Australians in 15th overall, one place ahead of Euan McNicol and Lucinda Whitty with Pip Pietromonaco and James Wierzbowski finishing their first Nacra 17 regatta in 17th.
Elise Rechichi and Sarah Cook finished their second European 470 women’s event in eighth overall, picking up their best result of the week in Friday’s opening race, a second. Fellow Australians Sasha and Jaime Ryan were 11th overall.
In the Laser class Ryan Palk ended the week in 14th overall, with Ashley Brunning 17th, Jared West 19th and Luke Elliott 37th.
Matthew and Robert Crawford had their best day of the regatta in the 470 men’s fleet with a sixth and two sevenths moving them into eighth overall. Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah finished 13th with Alexander and Patrick Conway 15th.
Live tracking and results for the medal races can be found at www.deltalloydregatta.org.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit www.australiansailingteam.com.