World Champions and defending Open European Champions Mat Belcher (QLD) and Will Ryan (QLD) wrapped up the 2015 470 Open European Champs (29 June – 4 July 2015) with a bronze medal. Despite not defending their title, the bronze medal kept the pair’s podium record alive, finishing on the medal podium at every regatta they have competed in since joining as a team in late 2012.
The regatta in Arhus, Denmark concluded on Saturday, 4 July after six days of competition and a light wind medal race, which Mat Belcher and Will Ryan finished in third.
By their standards, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan opened the series on the backburner and made the qualification series difficult for themselves, with a few high point results over the first two days. They brought on the performance of the day when it counted and had two race wins on Thursday (3 July), day four of the event, which after a total of nine races placed them in fourth, just one point behind the third ranked Greeks ahead of the final day of fleet racing on Friday.
But no wind and no racing on the penultimate day meant that there was no opportunity to gain valuable points to move up the ranks and it all came down to the medal race in which they needed to be radical in order to defend their Open European Championship title.
Very light wind conditions on the last day of competition in Aarhus, which will also host the 2018 ISAF Sailing World Championships, did not leave much room for improvement though. With a third place in the Medal Race, Belcher and Ryan managed to overtake Greece (9th in the Medal Race) to get on to the podium and finish the event with a bronze medal.
“The wind was extremely light today, so it really was a race in which anything can happen. We started well and raced well and we can't ask for too much more than that,” Will Ryan said at the conclusion of the regatta.
“We were happy to make improvements throughout the week, and with a slow start to the regatta, despite tough conditions and shortened format, we did well to get back on the podium. It's been a week for improvements for us as a team and that was the ultimate goal for the event. This puts us in a good spot preparing for the Rio test event in August, which is what we are focused on.”
And about the venue he added, “we’ve enjoyed our time in Aarhus, which is a beautiful town with friendly people. We had challenging conditions wind wise, but I’m looking forward to return here possibly for the World Champs – that is if I'm still racing in 2018.”
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan’s domination of the 470 fleet has been all consuming, and understandably some expect them to consistently be at the front of the fleet in each race as Mat Belcher explains looking back onto the week:
“For the top guys, the expectation and pressure coming into this event, means we all have to pull out some pretty good results. We put ourselves in a difficult position this week, but we have come back from some pretty difficult circumstances over the years. After we did our discard pretty much on day one, we had to keep getting the best scores we can and try to close the gap as much as possible. That worked on day four and winning two races was great, but we ran out of races to gain more points when the last day of fleet racing was cancelled. ”
“The results this week show the company we are in and the conditions we had here in Aarhus,” said Belcher “The flat water at the start of the regatta made for a level field and you could see some big names, guys like the Croatians, Greek, British, Kiwis and us back in the fleet. It just shows you that it was tough conditions and quite variable and everyone was just struggling a little bit, but that’s part of racing and it’s the same for everyone.”
Australian Sailing Squad’s Sasha Ryan (QLD) and Amelia Catt (TAS) qualified for the top 24-boat gold fleet and finished the event in 20th.
Australian Sailing Squad’s Patrick and Alexander Conway (NSW), Angus Galloway (QLD) and Joshua Dawson (NSW) and Tom Klemens (VIC) and Tim Hannah (VIC) finished the series in the silver fleet and in 32nd, 46th and 56th respectively.
Aarhus, Denmark continues its series of Olympic sailing championships with the Nacra 17 World Championship racing to start on Sunday, 5 July. Four Australian teams will be contesting the event and vying for a podium spot. See preview here: http://www.australiansailing.org/aus-sailors-well-placed-at-world-and-european-championships/
The Nacra 17 World Championship will run from 5-10 July with a three-day qualification series, two days of final races plus the final medal race on Friday, 10 July.
Elsewhere Australia’s top Laser sailors are in Kingston, Canada where the 2015 Laser World Championships are underway and saw racing cancelled on day three of the competition on Saturday due to the lack of wind.
After two days of racing World #1 Tom Burton (NSW) sits in overall third with teammate and World #2 Matthew Wearn (WA) following in seventh.
World #2 Matt Wearn (WA) kicked-off the event in first after two race wins, while World #1 Tom Burton (NSW) caught up on day two jumping up the results ladder into third.
Sunday will be the last day of qualifying series at the Laser Standard Men’s World Championship, with final series racing starting Monday. Racing runs daily starting at 1130 (1:30 a.m. AEST) until Wednesday July 8.
Next week the 49er/FX European Championship will add to the racing action with the regatta taking place in Porto, Portugal from 6-12 July 2015.
It is a busy and decisive time for the Australian Sailing Team with this series of Class Championships taking place around the world over the next week, which will be taken into account for the selection of the Australian Sailing Team to contest the 2015 Rio Test event and with the team to be announced on 15 July 2015.
– Cora Zilich