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Belcher and Page one race start away from 470 world title
Australian sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page are one good race start away from securing the 2012 470 World Championship in Barcelona, Spain.
Belcher and Page are 19 points ahead of French duo Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos, with just the double points medal race left to contest on Saturday, meaning that as long as the pair don’t jump the start in the final race the title is theirs.
The win is set to be a historic one for the pair as it will mean that Page extends his run as the most successful 470 sailor in history with an amazing seventh world title and his third in a row with Belcher.
“We feel pretty good, it’s a huge credit to our coach Victor in getting us into such good shape this season and particularly for this event,” said Belcher. “To win any World Championship is special but to be in a position to win three in a row is truly remarkable, something we did not expect.
While the 2012 470 World Championship is a key event for the pair for Page the important thing for him was sending a message to the competition this close to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“With the Olympic Games just 70 days away it’s great to show our dominance, come the first start gun in Weymouth I’m sure a lot of it will be forgotten and the racing will hard fought but at the back of everyone’s mind results like this will be there,” he said.”
Friday featured the two final gold fleet races with the crews fighting for a place in the 10-boat medal race.
Belcher and Page had their worst result of the regatta in the opening race, a 20th, with their French opponents winning, but bounced back in style to win race two and open up a 19 point lead.
“Certainly, the 20th today was a little unexpected for us,” said Belcher. “We had a good start and went towards the right side, which we thought was the favoured one. About a minute off the start we experienced a 25-degree shift to the left that just continued to swing. We were unable to recover from this with very little passing lanes, just going from mark to mark. It was unfortunate but certainly made us determined for the last race to keep our lead.
“Even after race one today we had a comfortable 17 point lead,” he said. “So we didn't need anything special, just had stay close to our competitors. We had a good start and went where we wanted to and after coming into the top mark in first we knew we would be fine. We just continued to sail our own race and pull away.”
Fellow Australians Sam Kivell and Will Ryan narrowly missed out on a place in the medal race, ending the penultimate day of the event in 13th.
Kivell and Ryan finished sixth and 14th in Friday’s two races to be nine points outside the top 10.
Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell had a consistent day on the water with a 13th and a 18th from the day’s two races, leaving them 27th overall.
“It’s been tough not racing the entire regatta but we are rebuilding each day,” said Stowell. “We’re still maintaining a conservative approach with the bigger picture in mind to ensure that my back is looked after.
“Each day is showing strong signs that the back is recovering well as we progress towards the Games,” she said.
Scott Cotton and Rob Size are 51st in the men’s fleet, ahead of Matthew and Robert Crawford in 60th.
Alexander and Patrick Conway are 66th, winning another race in the bronze fleet, with Matt and Ben Taylor 75th.
Full results can be found at http://worlds.470.org/eventsites/default_s1.asp?eventid=66686.