World Champions Mat Belcher (QLD) and Will Ryan (QLD) have won the Men’s 470 at the “Copa Brasil de Vela” on Rio de Janeiro’s Guanabara Bay over night.
A second place in Saturday’s (20 December) medal race was enough for the World #1 470M crew to take home the win. A slow start at the beginning of the regatta converted into a run of five back-to-back race wins for Belcher/Ryan to position them six points ahead of the USA's Stuart McNay and Dave Hughes going into the final medal race. McNay/Hughes, who were fifth at the Worlds, finished the Copa Brasil de Vela in overall second and Austrian Olympians Matthias Schmid and Florian Reichstädter in third. British crew of Olympic silver medallist Luce Patience and Elliot Willis, who were fourth in Santander, finished the regatta in fourth.
It is still early days in the build-up to Rio 2016, but every moment spent on the Olympic waters is a plus and the seven-day Olympic class regatta with 160 sailors from twenty countries was a welcome opportunity for the winners of the first Rio test event in August to do more training on the Olympic venue as Mat Belcher explained:
“You can never have enough practice. Christmas is next week and it was a pretty relaxed regatta for us. It’s a long way from Australia and unfortunately we missed our World Cup regatta in Melbourne, but it was important to come over here. We are here to learn the conditions and just wanted to spend a bit more time in Rio and get used to the conditions and learn more about the venue.”
About the medal race he added: “It was a really difficult day, we had to wait three and a half hours for the medal race and the wind was very shifty. But we were really happy with how we finished the regatta. We won and came second in the medal race and did what we needed to do.”
The 'Copa Brasil de Vela' win finishes off a successful year for Mat Belcher and Will Ryan who have been dominating the Men’s 470er class ever since teaming up after the London 2012 Olympic Games and once again have shown great form over the past twelve months.
In 2014 Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, who are coached by “medal-maker” Victor Kovalenko, finished on the podium at every international regatta they competed in, culminating in being crowned World Champions in the 470 at the 2014 ISAF World Championships in Santander, Spain in September. It was their second consecutive world title together and brings Belcher's tally to a record-breaking five in a row. The win qualified Australia a spot at the 2016 Olympics.
On top of this, they were crowned 2014 European and Australian Champions. In August, the team won gold at the Olympic Test Event and finished the year with two golds, a silver and a bronze at the four ISAF World Cup events for 2014. They also won the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi in November.
Both were nominated as finalists for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2014 and received the Yachting Australia Male Sailors of the Year 2014 award.
They will start the 2015 season at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami, USA at the end of January, before competing at the 470 Australian Nationals at the Gold Coast in February.
– Cora Zillich/AST