by Craig Heydon
At the ISAF Sailing World Cup - Sail Melbourne, Aussie sailors will seek to bring home a major medal haul following a number of good performances on the penultimate day of racing on Port Phillip Bay.
Belcher and Ryan on day five at 2012 Sail Melbourne
Mathew Belcher and Will Ryan continued their great run on Friday with another three wins making it nine from nine, with the pair opening up a 19 point lead over second place heading into the final double-point medal race.
In winning their ninth straight race of the week Belcher and Ryan became the first 470 men’s crew to ever sweep the fleet racing component of an ISAF Sailing World Cup event, an impressive result in their first regatta together for their Rio 2016 Olympic Games campaign.
'This is the first time that I’ve won all the races in a World Cup event which is pretty cool,' said Belcher. 'Anything can happen in sailing, you don’t go out there expecting to win every race, so to have done it we’re feeling pretty good.
'I didn’t think we would adapt this quickly, the light and shifty conditions were really difficult from a team work perspective but we’re sailing really well and it’s enjoyable being out there,' he said.
Ryan said that the pair hasn’t been concerned with results this week, more with getting things right in the boat.
'This week has been all about the processes, ticking off the boxes,' said Ryan. 'To get the first win together is a box that I was looking forward to ticking off.
'Tomorrow is our first medal race together for a number of years so we’ll be taking it step by step as the conditions will be quite challenging with a 20 knot northerly expected,' he said.
Belcher and Ryan will just need to complete the medal race to win the gold, with the win to be Belcher’s ninth in a row, stretching back more than 12 months.
Krystal Weir has one hand on the Laser Radial trophy following another good day on the water. The Victorian will take an 18 point lead into the medal race following fifth, sixth and first place finishes in today’s three races.
Krystal Weir racing in the Laser Radial - 2012 Sail Melbourne
If second placed sailor Manon Luther of Switzerland wins the final race Weir just needs to make sure she’s not last to win gold.
'It was one of those really tricky days out there today, it was always going to be hard with the breeze so light and tricky,' said Weir. 'In the first two races the young, light, girls were certainly pushing me and I did ok but in the last race I put it together and had a nice one.
'I’m happy with the point score, each race you take it as it comes and at the end of the day you find out how big the buffer is,' she said. 'It would have been nice to have those extra couple of points to seal the deal but I’m happy with where I’m sitting.'
Tom Burton headed into Friday’s three races just one point ahead of second placed Matthew Wearn. Burton sailed well in the light conditions with a second, a win and a fourth allowing him to open up an almost unassailable 18 point lead at the front of the fleet.
Tom Burton leads the Laser fleet at 2012 Sail Melbourne
Queenslander Jared West is now second, tied on points with Ryan Palk, with Matthew Wearn two further back in fourth.
'Going into today the points were pretty tight and there were a few things to concentrate on with three races scheduled so I needed it to be a good day and it was in the end,' said Burton. 'I was going over the points in my head in that last race today, I kind of wanted to win without the medal race and nearly got there.
'It’s been a good week on the water, everyone’s had a go at the front and we’ve had some really close racing and consistency has been the key,' he said.
Brendan Casey will take a nine point lead over Oliver Tweddell into the Finn medal race following two seconds and a first on Friday. Jake Lilley third position, a further eight points adrift.
New Zealand’s Alex Maloney and Molly Meech lead the 49erFX fleet, with Beijing gold medallist Tessa Parkinson and crew Kate Lathouras seven points behind in second following a third, a seventh and a two seconds.
Olivia Price and James Sly are four points further behind in third after the pair finished the four races with a third, a fourth, a second and a seventh.
Steven Thomas and Rhys Mara continue to lead the 49er fleet, just one point ahead of Luke Parkinson and Jaspar Warren.
New pairing Sam Kivell and Sam Phillips had their first race win together on Friday, moving them into third position, 13 points behind Parkinson and Warren.
Sasha and Jaime Ryan lead the 470 women’s fleet by 11 points after a clean sweep from today’s three races, with Lucy Shephard and Aurora Paterson second, and Jacqueline Gur and Georgie Toner third.
Beijing 2008 gold medallist Elise Rechichi and new crew, Olympic rower Sarah Cook, had to call an early end to their regatta as Cook had prior commitments in Canberra.
In the RS:X men’s class Luke Baillie will take a two point lead into the medal race, with Patrick Vos second and Sam Treharne third.
Australian Sailing Team website
Sail Melbourne website