Belcher and Ryan take the lead ahead of 470 Worlds medal race

It was crunch time on day five at the 2015 470 World Championships in Haifa, Israel as the final battle to advance to the medal race top ten and to secure valuable points unfolded on the penultimate day of these World Championships.

After an up and down week defending World Champions Mat Belcher (QLD) and Will Ryan (QLD) showed what they’re made of and regained the lead on the points table after posting their fifth race win of the series and a seventh place.

This moved them up from third place back into first with the pair leading second place Croatia by only one point, which will make for an exciting double-points medal race today, Saturday, 17 October 2015.

“Once again we had pretty tough conditions, but we are really happy to have re-gained the lead coming into the final medal race. Obviously with only one point it will be an interesting race but this weeks competition has been really close through out.” Mat Belcher said.

“This week has seen a lot of top guys further back in the fleet, which shows how tough the racing has been. Will and I are really happy with the way we approached this penultimate day and continued to fight back, especially the last race, to close the points again. We are looking forward to tomorrow.  

And his crew Will Ryan added: “We are very happy to have managed to find better form in the past two days and move back up the leaderboard. The conditions have been challenging, and certainly evident by the high scoring nature of the event, and the daily fashion show as different teams appear in the leaders coloured bibs each day.”

“To go into the medal race with a chance to win is certainly a powerful position, and one that we have been working towards all week – so looking forward to getting out on the race track for the medal race and trying our best.”

In the 470 Women, Australian Sailing Squad’s Carrie Smith (WA) and Jaime Ryan (QLD) put in a stellar performance to secure a spot in the top ten medal race after finishing the day in ninth place. With this top ten result at a World Championship the pair also qualified for the Australian Sailing Team.

This is a great result for 2013 ISAF Youth World Champion Carrie Smith and crew Jaime Ryan. With Carrie Smith only just having recovered from recurring medical issues, both have only been back in the boat for a few weeks.

But there will be more at stake in the medal race with the pair having the chance to secure Olympic qualification for the women’s 470 as well.

While Australia has already secured Olympic qualification in the men’s 470 class through Mat Belcher’s and Will Ryan’s World Championship winning performance at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championship, the women’s 470 class is yet to qualify. 13 nations were gunning for three Olympic Qualification places at these World Champs and after the current standings, Poland and Germany are qualified (subject to ISAF ratification), whilst Australia and Spain will battle for the final slot in the medal race.

“We are racing off against Spain for the last Olympic Nation spot available here, we do have a bit of a points buffer but you never know what can happen, especially in a venue like this one so we will just do our best again, Jaime Ryan said. 

“Qualifying for the Medal Race also qualifies us for the AST, and this last year more than ever we've realised how important the support of the team is so we are feeling really happy and look forward to making the team proud!”

“We went into today (the last day of fleet racing) knowing that we were fighting with about four or five other countries for the last spot in the medal race, but we tried not to focus on the pressure, and just to go out and sail two good races. It's the same strategy we've had all week really.

If required, the final Olympic qualifying opportunity for 470W will be at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Melbourne mid-December.

Australian Sailing Squad’s second women’s crew of Sasha Ryan and Amelia Catt (TAS) finished the regatta on a high by posting a fourth place in the final race and finished the event ranked 26th.

Racing in the Silver fleet (31-59) of the men’s 470 Australian Sailing Squad’s Angus Galloway (QLD) and Joshua Dawson (NSW) finished the regatta in 38th and Patrick and Alexander Conway (NSW) in overall 43rd.

Saturday’s medal races kick off with the 470 Women at 1400 hours local time (22:00 AEDT), followed by the 470 Men at 1445 hours.

 – Cora Zillich/AST

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