Tokyo 2020: Belcher and Ryan on the cusp of greatness

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan are on the cusp of greatness, as they will take an almost unassailable 20-point lead into today’s Men’s 470 Medal Race. If they contest the race and avoid any false start penalties, they will be crowned Olympic Champions.

The pair are not celebrating yet, but provided they avoid any mishaps today a win would take Belcher to a whole new stratosphere. He will become Australia’s most decorated Olympic sailor with two Gold and one silver medal (he won Gold with Malcolm Page at London 2012 and Silver with Ryan at Rio 2016).

For Ryan it will be sweet success the second time around after the heartbreak of missing Gold in Rio five years ago.

And how is he feeling about today?

“Happy, for sure. The last race {yesterday} was probably the worst race we have sailed this whole event, so that was when we had to control some boats in the fleet to confirm where we were going to be in the points standings. But we couldn’t have asked for a better week in terms of our performance.”

Ryan knows that history awaits if they can get through today unscathed.

“{Today} is the last race for the Men’s 470 as a class at the Olympics, so I don’t know if that means you are a gold medallist for eternity but that’s the plan. We will just do all the right things, we want to do this for our coach and all the supporters back home.”

Paris 2024 Olympic Games will see the 470 class become mixed, making Tokyo 2020 Blecher and Ryan’s last Games together. Pic – Sailing Energy / World Sailing

A win would further cement the reputation of the team’s coach, Victor “The Medal Maker” Kovalenko. The Sport Australia Hall of Famer is ready to add to his already mind-boggling tally of six gold medals as a coach.

The race will be broadcast on one of Channel 7’s digital channels (7, 7Two or 7Mate depending on which state you are in) from 3:30pm AEST.

Three of Australia’s other classes wrapped up their Olympic campaigns yesterday, and among them was Finn sailor Jake Lilley whose Olympic dream seemed shattered just six weeks ago. The big Queenslander revealed that he had torn his meniscus in a training mishap and spent four of the last six weeks of his Olympic preparation in a straight leg cast with limited mobility.

The fact that he was on the start line at all was a minor miracle, even more so that he qualified for the Medal Race where he finished in third place.

Jake Lilley sailing downwind in the Finn
Jake Lilley came third in the Medal Race yesterday. taking him to seventh place overall.

“We wanted to keep it under wraps because we were concerned about my ability to tack the boat and we didn’t want to use it as an excuse or have others use it against us and make me tack more than I needed to this week,” Lilley said after the race.

“It was quite a serious operation, but the team never stopped believing and put a lot of faith in me and helped a lot to make sure we could get here.”

Yesterday’s race marked the last for the Finn class at the Olympics, drawing to a close Jake’s time with the team.

“It’s hard to put all of my emotions into words on the spot right now,” Lilley continued. “I’ve been involved in this team for a very long time and am very grateful for all of the support and the time I’ve had with everyone. We were pretty determined to finish on a high, so we put together a really good plan, I executed the start and put together a nice race.”

Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin entered yesterday’s Nacra 17 Medal Race just 7 points behind the third-placed German team, and despite throwing everything they had at the race ultimately came up short and finished their regatta in fifth place.

Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin sailing downwind in the Nacra 17
Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin came fifth overall in the Nacra 17 class. Pic – Sailing Energy / World Sailing

The young team of Nia Jerwood and Monique de Vries finished 16th in the Women’s 470 and will be better for the experience of competing at their first Olympic Games.

Australian Sailing would like to acknowledge and thank the Australian Olympic Committee for the work done in managing the athletes and staff of the Australian Olympic Sailing Selection at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

You can follow live tracking of the races on the Australian Sailing Team website: https://www.australiansailingteam.com.au/olympics/live-tracking/

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Regatta standings:

49er (19 boats)
1st: Dylan Fletcher-Scott & Stuart Bithell (GBR) 2, 8, 4, 1, 12, 2, 2, (16), 3, 9, 6, 7, MR: 2 – 58 pts2nd: Peter Burling & Blair Tuke (NZL) (12), 3, 7, 2, 10, 1, 3, 6, 2, 5, 2, 11, MR: 6 – 58 pts3rd: Erik Heil & Thomas Ploessel (GER) 3, 13, 5, (14), 2, 3, 1, 7, 11, 2, 14, 5 MR: 4 – 70 pts
12th: Will Phillips & Sam Phillips (AUS) 7, 4, 1, 8, 11, 15, 16, (UFD), 18, 14, 8, 9 – 111 pts

49erFX (21 boats)
1st: Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze (BRA) – (15), 5, 1, 10, 7, 6, 1, 6, 10, 12, 2, 10, MR: 6 – 76 pts2nd: Tina Lutz & Susann Beucke (GER) 5, 6, 8, 3, (13), 12, 11, 12, 3, 7, 3, 3, MR: 10 – 83 pts3rd: Annemiek Bekkering & Annette Duetz (NED) 13, 8, 2, 1, 6, 1, 12, 5, 6, 5, 12, (16), MR: 18 – 88 pts
13th: Tess Lloyd & Jaime Ryan (AUS) 9, 11, 7, 9, 11, 10, 15, 10, (19), 11, 8, 8 – 109 pts

Finn (19 boats)
1st: Giles Scott (GBR) (9), 9, 1, 1, 1, 1, 6, 1, 1, 7, MR: 8 – 36 pts
2nd: Zsombor Berecz (HUN) 2, 2, (9), 4, 6, 7, 3, 5, 4, 4, MR: 2 – 39 pts
3rd: Joan Cardona (ESP) 3, 3, 5, 3, 2, 3, (13), 7, 5, 8, MR: 12 – 51 pts
7th: Jake Lilley (AUS) 10, 8, 4, 11, 7, 9, (15), 6, 2, 6, MR: 6 – 69 pts

Laser (35 boats)
1st: Matt Wearn (AUS) 17, (28), 2, 4, 2, 2, 1, 1, 12, 8, MR: 2 – 53 pts

2nd: Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) 15, 6, 3, (22), 13, 4, 5, 11, 7, 10, MR: 8 – 82 pts3rd: Hermann Tomasgaard (NOR) 3, (18), 15, 2, 6, 8, 10, 5, (19), 4, MR: 14 – 85 pts

Laser Radial (44 boats)
1st: Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) 6, 5, 3, 13, 4, 4, 2, 1, 26, (DNF), MR: 14 – 78 pts2nd: Josefin Olsson (SWE) (34), 15, 8, 4, 1, 6, 4, 9, 22, 10 MR: 2 – 81 pts
3rd: Marit Bouwmeester (NED) 21, 14, 7, 2, 3, 9, (BFD), 7, 1, 7, MR: 12 – 83 pts
14th: Mara Stransky (AUS) 12, 26, 19, 10, 19, 16, (BFD), 24, 3, 1 – 130 pts

Men’s 470 (19 boats)
1st: Mat Belcher & Will Ryan (AUS) 2, 5, 1, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 2, (8) – 21 pts

2nd: Anton Dahlberg (SWE) & Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE) 1, (15), 8, 5, 6, 11, 1, 5, 3, 1 – 41 pts3rd: Jordi Xammar & Nicolas Rodriguez Garcia-Paz (ESP) 10, 1, 10, 6, (14), 1, 3, 2, 5, 7 – 45 pts

Women’s 470 (21 boats)
1st: Hannah Mills & Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) 4, 3, 7, 1, 3, 3, 1, 3, (9), 3 – 28 pts
2nd: Camille Lecointre & Aloise Retornaz (FRA) 3, 2, 4, 7, 1, (12), 6, 5, 10, 4 – 42 pts
3rd: Agnieszka Skrzypulec & Jolanta Ogar (POL) 1, 1, 2, 5, (12), 1, 5, 4, (15), 15 – 46 pts
16th: Nia Jerwood & Monique de Vries (AUS) 7, 12, 12, 8, 18, 19, 15, 13, 13, (20) – 117 pts

Nacra 17 (20 boats)
1st: Ruggero Tita & Caterina Banti (ITA) 1, 3, 1, 2, (5), 1, (8), 3, 2, 2, 1, 2, MR: 12 – 35 pts
2nd: John Gimson & Anna Burnet (GBR) (7), 5, 2, 1, 1, 2, 5, (10) , 1, 5, 2, 4, MR: 10 – 45 pts
3rd: Paul Kohlhoff & Alicia Stuhlemmer (GER) 5, 1, 7, 3, 3, (11), 3, 2, 8, 3, 6, 6, MR: 16 – 63 pts
5th: Jason Waterhouse & Lisa Darmanin (AUS) 2, (11), 4, 4, 7, 8, 1, 5, 4, 6, 5, 8, MR: 18 – 72 pts

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– Michael Martin / Australian Sailing

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