In the World Cup series Hyeres, France, on Day 5, Rio 470 Silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, after winning both races yesterday did the same thing today.
As a result, the Australians with just 16 regatta points will go into Sunday’s medal race with an unbeatable lead, assured of the Gold Medal ahead of Fock and Dackhammar (SWE) on 40 points and Rio Bronze medallists Mantis and Kagialis (GRE).
They had five wins, a second and three thirds and their reward?
Belcher said, ‘This is only the second time in some 50 regattas that we have had a non-pressure medal race.’
‘We don’t go and try to win every race, we just try and focus on our part and if we do that then we are happy. This event is not about results for us, but obviously being in the position we are in is pretty cool. We will see what the conditions are tomorrow and then we will see how hard we push in the medal race.’
Ryan added ‘It’s nice to be back in the 470, and it’s important that we keep learning and evolving as a team. This pre-medal race win says a lot about our motivation too. It’s a nice place to be.’
And with a smile and a nod to Head Coach Victor Kovalenko standing just metres away Ryan said, ‘Keeps debriefs shorter when you win too.’
Not nearly as clear are the likely podium places in the Men’s Laser class. They sailed two races to finish their ten-race program ahead of tomorrow’s medal race.
Italian Francesco Marrai, the Rio test event winner is atop the leader board, ahead of Pavlos Kontides, London Olympic Silver medallist and World Cup Melbourne winner. Matt Wearn, who was the mid-regatta leader was third in this qualifying series but is looking for a better final result.
Wearn ‘I have still a little room to improve in the medal race, I need to execute a good race.
‘We know about Kontides and Marrai is a good sailor, he has good boat speed, he was 12th in Rio and he won at the Princesa Sofia regatta a few weeks ago in Palma. I am just seven points behind Kontides and 13 behind Marrai and I could theoretically take Gold if the two leaders start match racing.
‘I fell back from the lead because of one bad day. Consistency is what matters…just can’t afford to have big scores even though the conditions are tough.
‘On that day, I was sailing on what we had seen throughout the day and they were just sailing on what they were seeing at the time. It was quite a big left shift and they ended up going further left. It is one of those things that nine times out of ten my strategic play would come good but in that race, it didn’t.’
Having won this Hyeres regatta three times and finished third last year, Rio Gold medallist Tom Burton was expected to sail well this week. He finished the qualifying series with a solid third in the first Saturday race but suffered in the second with a 21st and lies fifth overall
After racing today Burton talked about his overall Hyeres performance.
‘While I sailed in the World Cup Melbourne 2016 back in December and have done some training, the fact is I’ve had an extended post Rio lay-off and as a result I am lacking a bit of the extra speed.
‘However, it seems that I am about level with or ahead of the guys who I know have also had a long break and so I am happy with that.
‘Obviously, Matt (Wearn) is flying the flag high for Australia, he has been training pretty hard and when I kick it back into gear I will have a good benchmark to test myself against.
‘Our Australian Laser squad continues to gain strength and we don’t have to go overseas to sail against top guys. I knew back in Sydney when we did a few weeks of training the guys were having their days. We were doing some mini regatta practice and Mitch got us in one of the regattas and that has never happened before so they are stepping it up a bit. But they must be more consistent if they want to make multiple medal races.
It’s a pity that Mitch didn’t quite make the medal race cut. That 44 hurt him rather badly otherwise we would have had three in the medal race. Still, looking forward to tomorrow.’
Mitchell Kennedy had a tough day, eighth overnight he finished with a drop and fell back to 13th. Behind him Jeremy O’Connell was 16th and Luke Elliott was 36th.
The 49er medal race was contested this morning and Spain’s Botin le Chever and Lopez Marra, with a fourth in the medal race, were convincing winners from Fletcher-Scott and Bithell (GBR) with Sylvan/Anjemark (SWE). Will and Sam Phillips were 19th overall.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Finn medal Turkey’s Alican Kaynar leads by 10 points from Nicholas Heiner (NED) who is in his first season in the class, with Ed Wright (GBR) third, 19 points back. Oli Tweddell, who finished second in this class in 2016, finished 22nd this year.
Australian Sailing Team (AST) & Squad (ASS) at World Cup Series Hyeres 2017
Men’s Two Person Dinghy - 470M
Mathew Belcher (QLD/QAS) & Will Ryan (QLD/QAS) – AST: (10),3,3,1,2,3,1,1,1,1 – 1st
Men’s Skiff - 49er
Will & Sam Phillips (VIC/VIS) – AST: 21,21,19,8,(26),17,6,20,1,19,4,26 – 19th
Men’s One Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) - Finn
Oliver Tweddell (VIC/VIS) – AST: 21,15,15,19,12,20.9,(35),22,25 – 22nd
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Matt Wearn (WA/WAIS) – AST: 5,15,4,1,4,2,26,(45),4,5 – 3rd
Tom Burton (NSW/NSWIS) – AST: 4,5,8,6,(28),14,8,26,3,21 – 5th
Mitch Kennedy (QLD/QAS) – ASS: 11,28,26,4,21,24,4,6,18,8,(44) – 13th
Jeremy O'Connell (VIC/VIS) – ASS: 10,34,24,12,12,(61),44,1,13 – 16th
Luke Elliot (WA/WAIS) – ASS: 43,52,50,46,(61),7,45,35,7,3 – 36th
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Watch the Medal Races live from the Sailing World Cup Hyeres 2017 here ;
URL - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiLMa8QoXWI
RESULTS / ENTRIES
A full list of sailors registered to sail in Hyères is available to view here - http://manage2sail.com/en-US/event/0adf7bcd-01d0-4214-a295-bb0b9136999e#!/entries?classId=7a9662de-4565-41e3-9008-4025d3177d5e
Results will be available from Tuesday 25 April via the World Cup Series results centre here - http://www.sailing.org/worldcup/results/index.php
Live tracking and competitor's analytics will be available via SAP Sailing Analytics throughout the event here - http://swc2017-hyeres.sapsailing.com/