by Craig Heydon
Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships continued on day five with Australian Sailing Team’s Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page winning all three races in the 470 men’s class.
Men’s 470 Australia’s Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page - Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships
The three wins leave the defending World Champions tied on points at the front of the fleet with Great Britain’s Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell who won all of their races in the second 470 group.
'We can’t complain when we have days like that, especially in the qualifying, it certainly helps to get a few up on your competitors,' said Belcher.
Belcher said that the pair is looking forward to racing against the top crews once the regatta enters the finals stages.
'It’s always hard when you’re qualifying in two different groups, watching one of your biggest competitors racing, you’re doing well, they’re doing well but that’s the nature of the sport and we’re looking forward to going into the finals. It’s won and lost in that finals group and at this stage all we can do is focus on us and get the best results we can,' he said.
Following a shark sighting on Tuesday evening in Fremantle’s Fishing Boat Harbour, Belcher and Page had a run in with some aquatic life themselves while racing.
'We had a little scare today with what we worked out was a dolphin that popped up underneath me on the trapeze at one stage,' said Page. 'First thought when you see a fin is maybe it’s a shark but it was all good today, we didn’t back off, just kept on going and had a good day.'
Dolphin sightings aside the only blip on the pair’s record for the day was a capsize late in the final race.
'My mistake, I’m taking that one,' said Page. ' We went for more or less the last tack of the day on the last work with a good little lead but hesitated a bit, the old bones wouldn’t get going and I didn’t make it across the boat and we capsized.
'We allowed one of the British crews through but were lucky to catch them by the top mark and they fouled us a little on the approach to the mark so had to do turns, by no means was it over then but it gave us a little bit of breathing space and we got the win,' he said.
Day five of the World Championships was a busy one with both sailors and the race committee having a long day on the water as they attempted to make up the races lost due to severe storms on Tuesday.
Brendan Casey had a strong day’s racing in the Finn fleet with three solid races, finishing with a ninth, a fourth and an eighth to leave him 14th overall.
'It was a long day in ‘Finn-land’ today on the Leighton Course, we had three races, pushed back from the dock at 10.30am this morning and didn’t get back until 7pm,' said Casey. 'I had a pretty consistent day with a nine in race one which I backed up with a four and things were looking really positive for the final race and I was in fourth but capsized and fell back to probably 12th but got myself back to eighth.'
'It was a positive day on the water, I had good starts all day long, raced well and I’m happy with that,' he said.
Fellow Australians Anthony Nossiter and Oliver Tweddell are 24th and 25th respectively in the highly competitive fleet.
The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty had three wins and two losses on Wednesday, leaving them with seven wins and three losses from their opening 10 races.
The Australian trio opened the day with a wins against the Croatians, Swedish and Dutch crews on Fremantle Harbour. In fading light and winds Price and crew lost their final two races, against the second Swedish crew and the Danes.
Match Racers Nicky Souter, Jessica Eastwell and Katie Spithill return to racing on Thursday.
In the RS:X women’s fleet Jessica Crisp currently sits in 16th overall after the first five races.
The triple-Olympian had a 16th, a ninth and an 11th on the Bathers Bay course, with racing taking place close to spectators along the breakwater in Fremantle.
Krystal Weir is 18th overall in the Laser Radial fleet following three races on day five.
Weir opened the day with a 17th, before her best result of the regatta so far, a fifth, and then a 12th to round out the day.
Fellow Australian Alex South has moved up to 29th, while Ashley Stoddart is 37th, Gabrielle King is 41st and Caitlin Elks 70th.
In the 470 men’s fleet the Australian Sailing Squad crew of Sam Kivell and Will Ryan are 36th, with two other Australians in the top 50, Matthew and Robert Crawford in 45th and Alexander and Patrick Conway in 47th.
On Thursday the 470 men, Laser Radial, RS:X women and Finn fleets will split into Gold and Silver fleets to begin the final series.
Full results can be found on the event website.
Australian Sailing Team website