ISAF Sailing World Cup- Too Fresh, Too Frightening

Published on December 5th, 2013

Melbourne, Australia (December 5, 2013) – Fresh breezes look set to prevail for the fourth day of racing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne. As competitors arrived at the Sandringham Yacht Club, they were greeted with a cold handshake from the 20kt southerly breeze.

Officials hoisted the postponement ashore for all classes, and when conditions failed to moderate, it was decided that all competitors from 24 countries in the Olympic classes would sit out for the day. Westerlies gusting in excess of 35 knots howled across Port Phillip, causing massive seas to build and pound the Sandringham rock wall.

World Sailor of the Year Mat Belcher and partner Will Ryan, who are tracking towards another consecutive 470 class regatta win at the 2013 ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne, spent some time discussing their regatta to date and the varied conditions that Melbourne has produced.

“There is too much wind today, so it was a good call by Principal Race officer Ross Wilson to abandon racing for the day, but we enjoyed yesterday. It was challenging but nice to be out there. It was perfect for our class in terms of big waves, a bit of wind and really being able to drive the boat pretty hard,” said skipper Belcher.

“But we still have a bit on for the week, with the Croatians leading for the first two days. They were the 2009 World Champions and four time worlds medallists. They are an extremely strong team, its tough racing. We have seen that so far and expect to see that throughout the week.

“We have always said we are going to focus on our performance and each day think we did a little bit better and yesterday we managed two firsts and that has put us into the lead.”

Talking of his amazing recent success, that sees Belcher undefeated in the past 17 consecutive regattas, “It’s been a great streak and we are aiming for 18 in a row here. But realistically it will come to an end at some stage.

“People underestimate how hard it is. I have heard some pretty optimistic statements, like, ‘Oh yes they can go unbeaten all the way to Rio’. But we can’t keep this up, there is no way. The talent in the fleet is just too good. We have done something quite extraordinary and have really amazed ourselves in our performance and from a psychological point of view, how we have been able to win those past regattas. But we know that one mistake and that’s it.

“I have to say Will Ryan my crew is doing amazingly well. This is still a new partnership and to have the results that we have had, it’s phenomenal and a real credit to Will. It’s a high-pressured situation, he is coming in replacing Mal and he is finding his way. I am honoured to sail with him and looking forward to where we can take our partnership”.

Both sailors took part in the annual ISAF Sailing World Cup Dinner earlier this week (Tuesday 3 December), which celebrated Belcher’s award a Rolex Male Sailor of the year and their current winning streak. The audience of over 300 was entertained as Australian Yachting legend John Bertrand interviewed the pair on the night looking to uncover their tightly guarded secrets and has also been a source of outside support.

“The ISAF dinner was great fun. It is pretty cool when you have got someone like John Bertrand interviewing you and having coffee with him the other day.

“What a privilege really to have access and to be able to talk to him and use his experience. He wants to take the interest and his questions are always hard. He really thinks about what you are saying and he is obviously a very smart guy and wants you to tell you exactly how it is.

The 24-year old Will Ryan chimed in, “John Bertrand honed in on the fact that we don’t give too much away and that is the fact we want to keep to our advantage. A lot people have done a lot of hard work in the Australian 470 squad and there is a lot of intellectual property. Our coach Victor Kovalenko has ten medals and I don’t have any yet, so I certainly want to keep the knowledge advantage a bit longer if we can.”

Mat nodded, “It’s probably more us than Victor, because we are the ones that are sailing the boat and we are really conscious about what we do, where we going, all we need to do and where we are at.

“We know that people just want to know what we are doing. We are just trying to prepare and keeping an eye on the prize. That’s just what we are doing.

“It’s just all about Rio and whether we win more events or not, we will keep doing the same thing. (Winning) hasn’t been the focus.

“Obviously the World Championship is a key event, so it’s the one we want to perform at our best. But at some stages experimenting is more important than winning.”

Belcher summed up “We have got a pretty good understanding about where we want to go and what we want to do. We are just ticking the boxes to keep developing as a team and the rest will take care of itself.”

Racing continues daily and concludes on December 8.

ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne

ISAF Sailing World Cup on YouTube

Source: ISAF media

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