Belcher and Ryan ready to defend their world title at Santander

The Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships will officially start today, Monday, 8 September European time, with racing scheduled at the biggest regatta of the year from Friday, 12 September 2014.
The Australian Sailing Team (AST) and Squad (ASS) will race at Santander in full force with 27 crews entered in nine out of the ten Olympic classes at what will be the 2014 season highlight.  The best sailing talent will be on show in Northern Spain and Australia’s top sailors will be fighting for the world titles as well as Olympic qualifying spots for Australia.  Santander 2014 is the first Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition qualification regatta with 50% of places awarded based on results in the Spanish city. 
The 2014 ISAF Worlds is the event every sailor has been aiming to peak at since the London 2012 Olympic Games and more than 1,250 sailors in over 900 boats from 84 nations will compete in Santander from 8-21 September 2014.  The strong Australian Sailing Team contingent, including Olympic Champions Mat Belcher (QLD), Nathan Outteridge (NSW), Iain Jensen (NSW) as well as Olympic Silver Medallists Olivia Price (NSW), Darren Bundock (NSW), Nina Curtis (NSW), and Lucinda Whitty (NSW) are hot contenders for podium spots in the 470, Laser, Nacra17, 49er and 49FXer classes.  Fresh talent and recent Rio test event, Aquece Rio – International Regatta, Gold Medallist Tom Burton will also be one to watch.
Men’s 470
Olympic Champion and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Mat Belcher (QLD), with World Champion crew Will Ryan, will be out to defend their 470 world title at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships.  Whilst Belcher and Ryan have been in top form after winning the Rio test event Aquece Rio – International Regatta in August as well as the practice regatta at Santander last week, the competition in the 85 boat fleet will be strong.
Belcher and Ryan have shown consistency and focused minds ever since teaming up post the London 2012 Olympic Games.  Their unbeaten run came to an end at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami in January and whilst their rivals have had their ups and downs the duo, coached by AST head coach Victor Kovalenko, has remained on the podium in a highly competitive fleet, “There are so many people who can have a shot but it's whether they can continue to do that event after event.  We've shown that it's the hardest thing.”
“The guys who have been in front of us this year they've had some good events but then they've been back a bit.  I'm sure they appreciate how hard it is to perform at every single regatta but they're all improving heaps and we just have to keep working hard ourselves.”
Belcher has been on top of the world championship podium for the last four years, taking three titles with Malcolm Page and one with Ryan and he's content with his build-up to Santander 2014, “The Worlds is the Worlds; it's always the main event.  We're in pretty good shape and quite happy with how we're sailing.
“For me trying to win five in a row, that's pretty cool and I never thought I would ever be in that position.  I'm not sure if it's been done before but it's a pretty cool opportunity and we'll be sailing hard.  There's so much competition but we've got to keep pushing ourselves, keep focusing on ourselves and keep trying to get better and better.”
The competition in the Men's 470 fleet will be tight and has an abundance of crews all capable of performing on the big stage.
470 racing commences on Sunday, 14 September.  The Medal Races on Saturday 20 September will bring the 470 racing to a close with the top 13 countries qualifying for Rio.
In the Laser, AST’s Tom Burton heads into Santander as the man in form and the one to beat.  Burton has amassed three big regatta victories this year in highly competitive fields.  He took ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca and Hyeres gold before winning on Rio 2016 Olympic waters at the first test event, Aquece Rio International Sailing Regatta 2014 in August.

In the biggest fleet of the Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championship including 150 sailors from 72 nations, Burton and AST team mate Matt Wearn (WA) will be gunning for World Championship glory and a Rio 2016 Olympic place for Australia. 
After a ninth at the last World Championship Burton has his eyes on the prize in the Spanish city,  “Going into Oman the goal was to win the Worlds and I was pretty disappointed with how I went and the result there. Santander, definitely, I want to win the worlds.  A few years back I was thinking, 'yeah win the worlds that would be pretty good', I was young and time is moving on so it's now time to start winning.”
Burton has five World Championship appearances under his belt, building up knowledge and experience and he knows that in the competitive field anyone, on their day, can strike gold, “Robert (Scheidt, BRA) will always be tough to beat at the worlds. For me the worlds is a step up and only happens once a year so it's tough to get the experience of that atmosphere but Robert's been there so many times, won it so many times it's probably a little bit more chilled for him.
The Laser and Laser Radial fleets will be the first ones to start in Santander on Friday, 12 September.  23 Laser and 19 Laser Radial nation spots are there for the taking, which will make for tight and fierce competition on the Bay of Biscay.
In the 49er, Outteridge and Jensen will also be vying for a podium spot after a fifth place last Worlds and finishing second at the recent Rio test event behind defending New Zealand World Champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.
Outteridge and Jensen were the last team to beat the Kiwis and it came on the grandest of stages, the London 2012 Olympic Games.  Post-Olympics the Australians focused on other projects but with a good season behind them they're aiming to put a stop to the Kiwis dominance, “They've been on a bit of streak since the Olympics by winning all of the events,” said Outteridge. “We really haven't been putting a lot of time into our 49er sailing but this year Santander will be our third or fourth major event and we're looking forward to taking them on.”
We are half way from London ending and Rio starting and we have two years to go.  After London, we basically had one year off from 49er sailing and this year we are getting back into it.  We have the exact same combination with Goobs, myself and our coach Emmett (Lazich) and it’s going well”
As a pair Outteridge and Jensen have gold medals from the 2009, 2011 and 2012 world championships, with Outteridge also a 2008 victor with Ben Austin.
Having finished fifth at the 2013 worlds the Australians head to Santander well prepared with a solid plan, We’re in the hunt and we have a bit of a job list of what we need to be doing moving forward.  Everything this year has been building up to the worlds to ensure we qualify our spot for Australia.  Santander has been our focus and we are looking forward to changing our sail number from a five to something lower.  Maybe a three to a one would be quite nice.  It's been a while since we've had an ISAF Worlds so it will be nice to try and win another one,” concluded Outteridge.
In the new 49erFX class Olympic Silver medallist Olivia Price (NSW) and crew Eliza Solly (VIC) aim to build on their fourth place at the Rio test event.  Caitlin Elks (WA) and Tess Lloyd (VIC) are the second Australian Sailing 49erFX crew racing in Santander.

The 49er fleet at Santander 2014 will see 88 teams compete from 33 nations whilst the 49erFX pack features 62 teams from 29 nations.  As well as world championship titles on the line, ten Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition places in both fleets will be won based on results in Santander.  The 49er and 49erFX fleets will kick start their competition on 15 September with the podium places to be decided in the Medal Races on 21 September.

Nacra 17
The Nacra 17 will be the new mixed-gender multi-hull event at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and Australia currently has three strong crews in the mix.  London 2012 Women’s Match Racing Silver medallists Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty have teamed up with Olympic silver medallist Darren Bundock and silver medal winning coach turned athlete Euan McNicol (NSW) respectively.
Bundock and Curtis started their season off exceptionally well by taking gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne.  Bronze medals followed in Mallorca and Hyeres, as well as a Silver at the Rio test event and they are in a good spot. “We want to try and win there or at least be in the top three and on the podium,” said Bundock, “but to win it would be very nice.  It's a nation qualifying event for the Olympics but it's also a qualification event for our funding next year.  We need to do well there.”
It will not only be tight racing in the World Championship fleet but also amongst the three Australian crews.   All three are aiming to qualify and represent Australia in Santander and beyond as talented youngsters Jason Waterhouse (NSW), who is sailing together with cousin Lisa Darmanin (NSW), explained:

“Santander has been our focus for many years now.  We are expecting the Aussie squad to be very strong and to have a really good World Championship.  For the Nacra we’re expecting the fleet to be the best we’ve ever sailed.”
“Lisa and I performed really well at last year’s World Champs and placed sixth but we’re hoping to improve on that this year if possible.  We have a very strong Australian Nacra contingent with three crews in the Australian Sailing Team and thus in the top ten of the World.” 
“It’s pretty competitive in a good way as you keep pushing one another to get the best out of each other.  We’re all going for the Olympics and we all are going for the Gold Medal.  We are here to represent Australia no matter who will end up going to Rio in 2016, we are here to make Australia proud and we want to do our part.”

The Nacra 17 fleet will feature 75 boats from 31 nations and a top ten spot will secure Australia’s qualifying position.  


The Finn pack sees 76 sailors from 32 nations, and Australian Sailing Squad’s and Junior European Champion Jake Lilley (QLD) as well as Victorian Oliver Tweddell will aim to qualify Australia with a top twelve position.
The Nacra 17 and Finn fleets will kick start their competition on Monday, 15 September.  The podium places will be decided in the Medal Races on Sunday, 21 September.
Santander 2014 acts as the first qualification regatta for the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition.
The remaining places in each event will be qualified from the 2015 Class World Championship and in a series of Continental Qualification Events sanctioned by ISAF, to finish by 1 June 2016 at the latest.
On Friday, 12 September the Laser fleets will be the first to commence racing in Santander with the finale scheduled for Thursday, 18 September.  The Men’s and Women’s 470 fleets will follow on Sunday, 14 September with the Medal race scheduled for Saturday, 20 September.  The Nacra 17 and Finn fleets start their competition on Monday, 15 September and wrap off the World Championship with the Medal Race on Sunday, 21 September.
2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships Australian Sailing Team & Squad Entries:
Men's One Person Dinghy – Laser

  • Tom Burton (NSW) – AST
  • Matthew Wearn (WA) – AST
  • Ryan Palk (QLD) – ASS
  • Ashley Brunning (NSW) – ASS
  • Luke Elliott (NSW) – ASS
  • Mitchell Kennedy (QLD) – ASS
  • Jeremy O’Connell (VIC) – ASS

Olympic Qualifying: top 23 countries
Racing: 12-18 September
Women's One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial

  • Ashley Stoddart (QLD) – ASS
  • Krystal Weir (VIC) – ASS
  • Anna Philip (VIC) – ASS Youth

Olympic Qualifying: top 19 countries
Racing: 12-18 September
Men’s Two Person Dingy – 470M

  • Mathew Belcher (QLD) & Will Ryan (QLD) – AST
  • Matt Crawford (NSW) & Rob Crawford (NSW) – ASS
  • Angus Galloway (QLD) & Tim Hannah (NSW) – ASS
  • Other: Alexander Conway & Patrick Conway (NSW) 

Olympic Qualifying:  top 13 countries
Racing: 14-20 September
Women's Two Person Dinghy – 470W

  • Carrie Smith (WA) & Jaime Ryan (QLD) – ASS
  • Sasha Ryan (QLD) & Amelia Catt (TAS) – ASS
  • Other: Lucy Shepherd & Emma Barton (TAS – TIS)

Olympic Qualifying: top 10 countries
Racing: 14-20 September
Men's Skiff – 49er

  • Nathan Outteridge (NSW)  & Iain Jensen (NSW) – AST
  • David Gilmour (WA) & Rhys Mara (VIC) – ASS
  • Joel Turner (QLD) & Lewis Brake (QLD) – ASS
  • Will Phillips (VIC) & Fang Warren (WA) – ASS
  • Steve Thomas (WA) & Sam Phillips (VIC) – ASS

Olympic Qualifying: top 10  countries
Racing: 15-21 September 
Women's Skiff – 49erFX

  • Olivia Price (NSW/AST) & Eliza Solly (VIC/ASS)
  • Tess Lloyd (VIC/ASS) & Caitlin Elks (WA/AST)
  • Other: Tessa Parkinson & Chelsea Hall (WA)

Olympic Qualifying (new in 2016 program): top 10 countries
Racing: 15-21 September 
Men's One Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) – Finn

  • Oliver Tweddell (VIC) – ASS
  • Jake Lilley (QLD) – ASS
  • Other: Joe McMillan (NSW) 

Olympic Qualifying: top 12 countries
Racing: 15-21 September
Mixed Multihull – Nacra17

  • Darren Bundock (NSW) & Nina Curtis (NSW) – AST
  • Euan McNicol (NSW/ASS) & Lucinda Whitty (NSW/AST)
  • Jason Waterhouse (NSW) & Lisa Darmanin (NSW) – AST
  • James Wierzbowski (VIC) & Pip Pietromonaco (VIC) – ASS 

Olympic Qualifying: top 10 countries
Racing: 15-21 September
Women's Windsurfer – RS:X

  • Joanna Sterling (QLD) – ASS 

Olympic Qualifying: top 13 countries
Racing: 13-19 September
Race Schedule
The regatta will consist of an opening series and, provided a minimum of 6 races have been completed in the opening series, a medal race.  The opening series may be divided into a qualifying series and a final series.  The top ten finishers in the opening series of each event will advance to the medal race. 
On Friday, 12 September the Laser fleets will be the first to commence racing with the finale scheduled for Thursday, 18 September.  The Men’s and Women’s 470 fleets will follow on Sunday, 14 September with the Medal race scheduled for Saturday, 20 September.  The Nacra 17 and Finn fleets start their competition on Monday, 15 September and wrap off the World Championship with the Medal Race on Sunday, 21 September. 

– Cora Zillich/AST

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