Australian sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page have extended their lead on day four of the 2012 470 World Championship in Barcelona, Spain.
The pair went into the finals series with a perfect six wins from six races and even though they didn’t keep the record going Belcher and Page have moved further ahead of the fleet.
The defending World Champions took a six point lead into the finals, finishing the day with a second and a fifth to be 20 points clear of Israeli crew Gideon Kliger and Eran Sela.
“Today was another good day for us, our streak is over but very happy with our performance today,” said Belcher. “The conditions were very challenging and we tried to make the most of the cards we were dealt.
“You can certainly feel the change of pace in the fleet today being the first day of gold fleet,” he said. “Everyone was closer to the line, pushing the boat harder and taking more risks.”
The crews spent much of the day on shore until the breeze filled in, finally able to begin racing around 4pm.
“We raced in between eight and 12 knots today and it was very shifty,” said Page. “There were big differences on either side of the course and both sides paid at different times.
“If you look at the results it was a wonderful day, we didn’t go out to maintain the winning streak and it wasn’t our best day in the boat but it was as good as it could have been in these conditions and against a strong fleet,” he said.
Four more gold fleet races remain before the final 10 boat medal race on Saturday.
“The intensity picked up on the water today,” said Page. “Maybe it was because of the weather and everybody was wishing to be on other parts of the course but a boat lengths mistake in qualifying cost you three or four in gold fleet. That’s the racing that we came here for and are looking forward to another two races tomorrow.”
Sam Kivell and Will Ryan have moved up one spot to be 11th overall following a fifth and a 21st.
The pair is 13 points away from a spot in the top 10 with four races remaining.
Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell made the decision to stay on shore on Wednesday as Stowell continues to recover from a back injury.
“My back is coming along quite well but we had made the decision earlier in the week to sit today out and give it a rest,” said Stowell. “Our goal is the Olympic Games and we’re continuing to work towards that and develop as a team.
“While it’s disappointing to miss a day of racing in gold fleet at a World Championship we made the decision to take a break today and it’s for the best,” she said. “The back is further ahead of where we thought it was going to be at this stage and I’m continuing to test it each day.”
In the men’s class Scott Cotton and Rob Size are 44th overall following a pair of eighth place finishes in the silver fleet.
Matthew and Robert Crawford are 62nd with Matt and Ben Taylor 65th and Alexander and Patrick Conway 68th.
Racing resumes in Barcelona on Thursday morning with the 2012 470 World Championship to conclude on Saturday.
Full results can be found at http://worlds.470.org/eventsites/default_s1.asp?eventid=66686.
For more information on the Australian Sailing Team visit www.australiansailingteam.com.au and follow the team on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AusSailingTeam.