by Craig Heydon
Australian sailors have retaken the lead in two classes after day three of racing at the 2013 Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, Holland.
The 470 men’s crew of Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan, and Laser sailor Tom Burton, both started the first day of finals racing in second overall, but a consistent day on the water saw the two Australian crews move back into the lead in their respective classes.
After strong winds limited racing on Wednesday crews were greeted by lighter conditions for day three of racing, with Belcher and Ryan getting their day off to a perfect start with a win.
In race two the pair was forced to fight back through the fleet, rounding the top mark 11th before eventually finishing third. They then finished the day as they started, with another win giving them a 10 point lead over the second placed New Zealand crew.
“Today was a good day for us, we were happy with the way that we sailed,” said Belcher. “An early morning 9.30am race start in seven degrees wasn’t pleasant but the committee managed to get three quick races in so it wasn’t too bad.
“The conditions here have been very difficult and today we saw some big shifts,” he said. “So we’re happy to come away with the scores that we did.”
Burton went into the day one point off the Laser class lead, with third and fourth close behind him, but the world number one sailed another consistent day to move back into first overall.
Burton was eighth in the opening race of the day before finishing fourth in race two and then eighth again in race three. The results have given Burton a one point lead on New Zealand’s Andy Maloney with another day of fleet racing remaining before Saturday’s medal race.
Fellow Australian Matthew Wearn remains in contention for a top six finish and a spot in the medal race, with the West Australian currently fifth overall.
Wearn finished the day with a fifth, a 22nd and a 15th to finish the day 10 points off third position.
Ryan Palk is currently 11th overall, with Ashley Brunning 15th, Jared West 21st and Luke Elliott 39th, with Elliott winning the first race of the day in the silver fleet.
The Nacra 17 fleet returned to the water after racing was abandoned on Wednesday with Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin leading the way for the Australians, ending the day fifth overall.
Waterhouse and Darmanin are currently just two points off a podium position as they look to continue their medal winning form from last week on Lake Garda in Italy.
“Today was another good day with a third, a fourth and a seventh in some really tough conditions,” said Waterhouse. “We had an oscillating breeze between 10 and 17 knots and pretty flat water. We had fantastic starts and first upwind legs however today we felt as though we lacked some upwind speed.
“We’ve slipped down to fifth overall however the points are close and we’re beginning to understand the shift patterns and are pursuing answers for our speed troubles,” he said. “We’re preparing for a good day tomorrow so we can both qualify for the medal race and head into it with a low score.”
Josh McKnight and Nina Curtis are currently 14th overall, one place ahead of Euan McNicol and Lucinda Whitty with Pip Pietromonaco and James Wierzbowski one further back in 16th.
“We had some freezing cold conditions today in Medemblik,” said Curtis. “The racing is so tight in the Nacra fleet, today we were sailing well but our lack of experience in the boats is showing in some key aspects of the race.
“We’re happy with our progression and are handling the boat much better in the gusty conditions,” she said.
Elise Rechichi and Sarah Cook continue to hold down eighth overall in the 470 women’s class following two ninths and a sixth on Thursday.
“Elise and I are improving and sailing well, but have had a couple of mishaps and are just finding ourselves a bit out of phase,” said Cook. “Hopefully we have a good day tomorrow to finish up the heats well, we’re looking forward to our European Championships which should be a light wind venue and would definitely suit us!”
Sasha and Jaime Ryan are 11th overall, finishing fourth in the opening race of the day before retiring from the final two as they manage Jaime’s recovery from an injury.
In the 470 men Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah have moved into ninth overall following a 20th, a fourth and a sixth. Matthew and Robert Crawford are the next best placed Australians in 13th, with Alexander and Patrick Conway in 15th.
Racing continues in Medemblik on Friday ahead of Saturday’s medal races.
Full results and live tracking can be found at www.deltalloydregatta.org.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit www.australiansailingteam.com.