Belcher and Ryan start Rio test event in winning form

Racing got underway at the Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta 2015 in Rio de Janeiro over the week-end with Olympic gold medallist Mat Belcher (QLD) and Will Ryan (QLD) winning the first race of the regatta and adding a sixth place to put them in the overall lead after day one of the event.

London 2012 Olympic Gold medallists Nathan Outteridge (NSW) and Iain Jensen (NSW) won the last race of the day and with a 13th place in the first race are ranked fifth overall. Nacra17 sailors Jason Waterhouse (NSW) and Lisa Darmanin (NSW) also finished the day in the top ten and are ranked sixth after three races.

Ten Australian sailors, including four London 2012 Olympic medallists, are competing in Rio in six of the ten Olympic classes in what is a key dress rehearsal at the 2016 sailing venue. Running from 15-22 August, it is the second Olympic Sailing Test Event to be held on Guanabara Bay, Brazil.

Day two (Sunday, 15 August) of the Aquece Rio– International Sailing Regatta 2015, saw the whole Australian Sailing contingent take to the Olympic waters with three boats finishing the first day in the top ten.

Men’s Two-Person Dingy – 470

London 2012 Gold Medallist and five-time World Champion Mathew Belcher together with dual World Champion crew Will Ryan are the current World #1 and have been on the podium at every event they have competed at since they started sailing together at the end of 2012. They had two wins on Rio waters already after winning last year’s test event as well as the Copa do Brasil in December and on day one of the 2015 test event made it clear that they want to add another win to their list.

“It’s nice to be right up there from day one and we are looking forward to capitalising on that, treat every day as it comes and to not get too many big scores,” Mat Belcher said after the first two races. “It was nice to be out on the furthest course, which is a new course for this year. It’s 7km offshore so it took us an hour to get out there. We had a nice breeze, expected it to be a bit more, but we are really happy to come away with a one and a six on the first day, which is a nice way to start our defence at this event.”

Men’s Skiff – 49er

London gold medallists Nathan Outteridge (NSW) and Iain Jensen (NSW) were one of four crews who won the London test event in 2011 before claiming gold at the 2012 Games and have made it clear they will be looking to set a similar precedent in Rio even though the pair has had a mixed year so far.

They started the first race out in front and were leading at the top mark when a big wind shift happened on the downwind leg and everyone passed them resulting in a 13th. After winning the second race they ran out of daylight with racing having to be abandoned:

“The 49ers were the last to race this afternoon and we were waiting for the FX girls to finish. The breeze was a bit funky for the first part, but we eventually got two races in,” Nathan Outteridge said. “The course was very favoured on the right side and we led around the top mark in the first race and gybed to go back downwind in the same direction and unfortunately the whole fleet went straight. We missed a big puff of breeze and went from first to 13th. It was a bit of a catch up there. Thus the first race wasn’t a really good result, but in the second one, we had a really good race. We executed the same start strategy and led everyone right, led around the top mark and picked the first downwind quite nicely and ended up winning the race. It could have been a really good day, but in the end we had one good race, one bad race and are really looking forward to tomorrow.”

Mixed-multihull – Nacra 17

Australia’s Nacra 17 team of cousins Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin put in a strong performance to finish the first day in overall sixth place only three points from the lead.

“It was a good day with the Nacras out on the Copacabana course,” helm Jason Waterhouse said. “There were massive oscillations, the tide was ripping and we had a pretty cool, or interesting sea state with plenty of variables. We had a seventh, fifth and second place, so a pretty solid day and we are happy to start the regatta conservatively and being in the mix. The boat feels great, Lisa is doing great and we are making good decisions and plan on moving forward from here.

The pair most recently won the silver medal at the Nacra 17 World Championships at the beginning of July and took home the win at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Weymouth and Portland in June. They are currently ranked No.3 on the ISAF World rankings and qualified the boat class, which will premiere in 2016, by winning bronze at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander.

Laser, Finn, 49erFX

Laser World #1 Tom Burton (NSW) already had two races on Saturday (14 August) and after another two on Sunday is ranked 14th in the 38-boat fleet.

In the Finn class, Jake Lilley (QLD) is in Rio for the first time and with a ninth and 15th place on day one is ranked overall 12th in the 20-boat fleet.

“We had some pretty soft breezes at the Bridge (Ponte) course and a pretty one-sided track. I managed to have a good first race and finished in the top ten, but in the second race I was a bit impatient and ended up doing two penalty turns within the first 20 seconds so that was a deep one. But we’ll just have to fight another day and there will be a lot of different course changes and a long week to go.”

In the 49erFX Australian Sailing Squad’s Olympic medallist Olivia Price (NSW) has teamed up for the Rio test event with Jaime Ryan (QLD) after a knee injury sidelined her regular crew Eliza Solly (VIC). With Jaime Ryan’s Women’s 470 skipper Carrie Smith recovering from surgery, Price and Ryan have teamed up to sail this event together in order to gain valuable experience on the Rio waters and finished day one ranked 16th.

Monday, 17 August local time will see all six Australian crews on the water again from 13:00 local time. It will be the third day of racing for Tom Burton in the Laser and the second day of racing for the 470M, 49er/49erFX, Nacra17 and Finn classes.

About Aquece Rio International Regatta

The Aquece Rio – International Sailing Regatta runs from 15 – 22 August 2015 and is based at Marina da Gloria on Rio’s inner harbour.

The Aquece Rio International Regatta is the second official Test Event for the sport of sailing and sees ten Australian sailors, including four London 2012 Olympic medallists, compete in a field of 339 sailors from 52 nations in what is a key dress rehearsal at the 2016 sailing venue.

Medal Races in the Laser, 49er, 49erFX and Nacra17 are scheduled for Friday, 21 August with Medal Races for the Men’s 470 and Finn classes to follow Saturday, 22 August.

At the Test Event Australian Sailing is represented in all of the six these boat classes that are already qualified: the Men’s 470, the Men’s (49er) and Women’s (49erFX) Skiff, the Mixed-Multihull (Nacra17), One Person Dinghy (Laser) as well as the One Person Dinghy Heavy Weight (Finn).

The Olympic sailing program comprises ten boat classes and last year the Australian

Sailing Team secured national qualification for all but three of the nine Olympic classes Australia is expecting to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The selection period for Australian Sailors to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games continues until May 2016.

The Test Event allows the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) to evaluate and make key decisions in advance of making the final decisions that will govern the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Six race courses will be tested throughout the week. Three are outside of Guanabara Bay and three are inside. Courses outside include Pai, Copacabana and Niteroi whilst the inside courses are Pão de Açúcar, Ponte and Escola Naval. All will be tested throughout the week by the ten Olympic sailing events. Click here to view the racing areas.

The Rio Test Event regatta is based on the same format and schedule for racing that will be used one year on at the Rio Olympic Games with ISAF regulations permitting countries only one entrant per nation.

Results from Aquece Rio are available here: http://www.sailing.org/olympics/rio2016/results/index.php

 

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