Australian sailors have won two medals on the final day of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami, Florida, with Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page claiming Gold in the 470 class and Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty picking up Silver in the Women’s Match Racing.
For Belcher and Page Saturday’s win was the first time that either of them had stood on the top step of the podium in Miami, in their fourth attempt together and numerous times individually.
“It’s nice to finally get the win here, we’ve been second the last three years and I can tell you that one first is always better than three seconds,” said Belcher.
The pair went into the final medal race 10 points clears of Dutch sailors Sven and Kalle Coster with the Australians guaranteed of at least a Silver medal.
In very light conditions late in the day Belcher and Page did what was needed, keeping close to the Dutch to claim their first win of the 2011/2012 ISAF Sailing World Cup after finishing second at the opening round in Melbourne last November.
“We were the last race of the day and the conditions were very variable, the breeze was down to between three and five knots so it was very close,” said Belcher. “Going into the race we knew that we couldn’t lose second so the plan was to stay close to the Dutch and towards the end of the race we were both right down the back of the pack.
“The conditions were very difficult and we found that we had covered them more than we probably wanted and that they were in a position to lose the Silver medal, he said. “We showed a bit of respect to them and they got through to take second, we ended up crossing the line last but had done enough to win the Gold.”
Belcher and Page won the Gold by six points following a consistent week where they finished in the top 10 in every race, including five wins.
“We like coming here, the competition is always good and while the fleet size may have been down a little this year it was high end and our main competition were all here,” said Belcher. “It’s nice to start the season with a win and confirm our status in the fleet. We ticked a few things off here and now have a few more things to work on at home so that we go to Europe in a few months well prepared.”
The Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty lined up in their first ever ISAF Sailing World Cup Gold medal race together on Saturday, taking on former World Champion, Lucy Macgregor of Great Britain.
The British came out of the blocks strongly, winning the opening two races before Price and crew bounced back to take the win in race three.
In the variable conditions the British picked up their third win in the next race to take the title three wins to one, with the Australians bringing home the Silver medal.
“We’re happy with our progress throughout the regatta however we are disappointed we came short of winning Gold, losing the final 3-1 against Lucy Macgregor of Great Britain,” said Whitty. “It was a hard fought final and we came back after being two-nil down but unfortunately they got the win in the fourth race.”
“We have plenty more to improve on and are really looking forward to the coming months and working hard to reach our final goal,” she said. “Our support network and our coach have been a major help in constantly helping us achieve our goals as a team.”
Brendan Casey went into the Finn class medal race sitting in third overall, within striking distance of second and with fourth close behind.
Unfortunately for the Gold Coast based sailor the medal race didn’t quite go to plan, with Casey finishing eighth to be tied on points overall with third, but missing out on the medal on a count back.
“It was a tough day at the office today and things didn’t go as well as hoped,” said Casey. “I had my opportunities out there, even down to the last run when there was a penalty given to the guy in second and the fleet compressed but it washed out that way.
“I had a good start and good opportunities but maybe got a little greedy in the really light conditions,” he said. But that’s sailboat racing and when you don’t execute you don’t come away with the results you were after.
“I learnt a lot in the last week, made tremendous leaps forward in my light wind and downwind sailing which I’ll take into next week’s Finn mid-winters in Fort Lauderdale,” said Casey.
The next stop for the ISAF Sailing World Cup is in Palma, Spain, at the end of March.