Australian crews prepare for for 470 Worlds

The continued development of a new pairing and returning Gold medalists highlight the Australian Sailing Team's 470 World Championship campaign with racing set to begin in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 23 August.

Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have still only spent limited time competing together since pairing up late in 2008 and will take confidence out of the recent fifth placing they achieved at the 470 European Championship in Austria.

While for 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Gold medalists Elise Rechichi and Tessa Parkinson the 2009 World Championships is their return to international competition after a stellar performance in China a year ago.

Rechichi and Parkinson had a well deserved break after the Olympics and in recent months have been training and studying at home in Perth.

Both crews will be keen to see how they fare against the best 470 sailors in the world as they begin their campaign towards the 2012 London Olympic Games.

“Our preparation so far has been quite good,” said Belcher. “Unfortunately we haven't been able to spend as much time in the boat as we would have liked, but we will try and use our experience at this stage to get us across the line.”

“We've always said that we're after a medal here, but there are at lot of other teams capable of the same, and we're expecting racing to be close and looking forward to the challenge, only time will tell.”

Belcher and Page gelled instantly and the 2009 World Championship will be just their fifth regatta together.

“Our preparations have been coming along well since being in Denmark,” said Page. “Rungsted has turned on good wind over the last week, and I hope this continues through the week of the regatta, as the venue is surrounded by land, and with a strong current, it will be a very tricky place to compete.”

“It's been some time since we last competed against the best guys in the world and our preparation has been a bit limited as we only spent five days training on the water back in Australia since the European Championship two months ago.”

“Some time ago we did set the objective of obtaining a medal from these championships. I still think this is very achievable, we will have the ability and the opportunities to be fighting for this. It will be hard to guarantee this with our lack of preparation and with the venue characteristics, but we'll do everything in our power to put Australia at the front.”

Belcher and Page will be joined in the men's fleet by three other Australian crews, all of whom have spent time training and competing in Europe this year.

The Australian Sailing Development Squad crew of Sam Kivell and Will Ryan head into the Worlds on the back of a strong 15th place at Keil Week in Germany at the end of June.

They will be joined by fellow ASDS sailors Max Taylor and Klade Hauschildt and brothers Alexander and Patrick Conway.

In the women's fleet Rechichi and Parkinson will compete alongside Stacey Omay and Chelsea Hall and Jacqui Bonnitcha and Claudine Ogilvie.

Racing begins in Denmark on 23 August with the 2009 World Champions crowned on 29 August.

For more information go to www.australiansailingteam.com.au.

By Craig Heydon

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