Australia’s champion 470 men’s team, Mat Belcher & Will Ryan, sailed into history today winning the 2017 470 World Championships in Thessaloniki, Greece.
Dual Olympic medallist Mat Belcher had previously won three World Championships with Malcom Page and now four with Will Ryan, his Rio Olympic crew, and for Belcher that’s his seventh title.
Belcher had won every championship from 2010 to 2015 but stumbled last year to a third on the weed infested Argentinian course.
Under the guidance of coach Victor Kovalenko Australia now has 11 of the last 19 Men’s World titles. Kovalenko’s charges have 19 titles in all, across 470 Men’s and Women’s classes.
Going into today’s Medal Race Belcher and Ryan were a single point behind the triple Olympian Anton Dahlberg and Frederic Bergstrom (SWE), who had sailed strongly for the first part of the regatta but faded from race eight onwards. Whichever of those two teams won the medal race would take Gold and the other would take Silver.
It was all over in the pre-start as Belcher explained ‘The strategy was quite simple going into the race. All we had to do was to beat them and they had the same.
‘So, we were match racing in the pre-start. We were pushing them hard and we managed to keep the controlling position, we had a hook on them and with around 15 seconds to go we forced them forward. We were all close to the line and obviously concerned they were over, they went back and we continued. At that point, the Championship was decided.
‘The Swedes were still dead last at the third mark, we followed the Turks across the finish line, realised they did not get the gun and saw the course board which showed they were OCS, so we had won the medal race and the World Championship.’
Second in the medal race were Machetti and Dante (FRA) with home town heroes Mantis and Kagialis (GRE) third and Kiwis Snow-Hanson and Willcox (NZL) fourth.
Belcher and Ryan took the Gold Medal, the Swedes Silver and Bargehr and Mahr (AUT) the Bronze. Fourth was Machetti and Dantes (FRA). Fifth were the Cinar brothers (TUR) next was Ferrari and Calabro (ITA) seventh was McNay and Hughes (USA).
Belcher continued ‘It’s pretty exciting to win another World Championship with Will.
‘The Swedish guys started this event very strongly and should be very proud of their achievement. They must be disappointed having led the regatta until almost but not quite to the end and I am certainly feeling for them. Behind them the Austrians signalled to us old guys that we can expected to be pushed hard by the next generation of young 470 sailors over the next three years.’
Will Ryan was grinning ‘Obviously we are really happy with Mat’s seventh title, my fourth, I am not going to catch him on the same boat.
‘It has been a bit of a funny week. We were doing well but were a little more conservative and we just had to wait for the opportunities. It is great to have the win. It’s going to take some time for it to sink in, I am sure because we weren’t leading until today but that was the time that it really mattered.
‘The prestart was the race. When the individual recall flag went up I am sure everyone was doubting themselves but the Swedes went back. We had a chance to go back with them but I think we just capitalised on that opportunity and went on to control their race from there. It was quite a surprise to end up winning the race because it wasn’t our intention.
‘The Turks crossed the finish line just in front of us and it wasn’t until about 15 metres or so before the finish line we could see the board and that it wasn’t us and it was the Turks.
‘Great outcome and it was very special. I had both my parents here. It was the first time my mother has seen me win a Worlds so it was a really nice time for her to be here.
A simple summation from Victor Kovalenko, ‘A lot of hard work from a very talented and experienced team has delivered their fourth World Championship win. For events, you need to have a strategy to deliver results. You have two options, a lot of teams took the high-risk route, as did the Swedes, the Turks, and the Austrians and that worked quite well but ours was the proven low risk high performance approach and in the end, that was the best.‘
A break now for the Australian 470 sailors, next up are events in Enoshima Japan, venue for the 2020 Summer Olympics, now just 1105 days away.
Australian Sailing Team (AST) & Squad (ASS) at 470 Worlds 2017 Thessaloniki final results
Men’s Two Person Dinghy - 470M
Mat Belcher (QAS) and Will Ryan (QAS) (AST): 1st, 4,4,1,4,1,9,1,(10),7,1,4,2
Chris Charlwood (WAIS) and Joshua Dawson (NSWIS): 19th, 11,10,10,14,23,4,6,(37/UFD),26,16,30
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470W
Nia Jerwood (WAIS) and Monique De Vries (WAIS): 13th, 13,11,6,6,12,24,4,(31/BFD),9,13,10
Carrie Smith (WAIS) and Jaime Ryan (NSWIS): 22nd, 16,15,7,12,17,19,27,(31/BFD),14,4,21
Dana Tavener (NSWIS) and Katherine Shannon (NSWIS): 50th, 23,27,15,25,(28),23,16,19,28,15,10
Shellee White (QAS) and Amelia Catt (TIS): 54th, 28,20,24,28,27,20,14,(31/BFD),25,20,11