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Four Golds and a Silver for Aussie sailors at final round of Sailing World Cup
The Australian Sailing Team has won three Golds and a Silver medal on a thrilling final day of the 2010 Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in Weymouth, England following a Gold on day five of the regatta.
Tom Slingsby, along with Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen claimed their second successive World Cup victories on the 2012 London Olympic Games venue in the Laser and 49er class respectively while Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price won an enthralling Women’s Match Racing final and Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page claimed Silver in the men’s 470 class.
Slingsby was the first Australian sailor in action in the Laser medal race and only had one man in his sights, 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Gold medalist Paul Goodison who started eight points behind and was the only sailor capable of taking the overall victory from Slingsby.
Slingsby, a two-time Laser World Champion, was ruthless in the pre-start not allowing Goodison any room to move with both sailors exchanging penalties before the race began. Once underway the Australian had his competitor’s measure, forcing Goodison into last place and eventually crossed the line in eighth position, two ahead of Goodison, to claim the Gold medal.
“I had an eight point advantage on Paul Goodison which meant he needed to get four boats between us,” said Slingsby. “I decided to take the safer option and go for a match race as you never know what the wind is going to do on these shifty courses close to shore.”
“The match race went pretty well, a few penalties went both ways and I ended up coming off the line a little better at the favoured boat end,” he said. “From then on I sort of controlled him and tried to put him back as far as possible, it worked well and I ended up coming away with the overall win.”
“I love it here, I always said in China that I never really felt at home and just couldn’t get used to the conditions whereas here to me it feels like sailing in Australia, sailing off Sydney heads where I train which is great,” said Slingsby.
While Slingsby was sailing to his third consecutive World Cup victory the Australian Women’s Match Racing Team crew of Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price were locked in a Gold medal final battle with Claire Leroy and crew from France.
The Australian trio took out the first two races in the best of five series, sailing exceptionally well in the challenging conditions. Leroy got a race back to leave the score at two to one heading into the fourth race.
The Australians then led race four almost from start to finish crossing the line first and claiming the Gold medal, their first ISAF Sailing World Cup Gold as a team.
“We’re pretty excited with today’s win,” said Souter. “We raced really well today, won the first two races pretty convincingly but then Claire gave us a bit of a challenge in the third but we sailed really well in the last to take the win and as a team we’re thrilled.”
Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen went into the 49er medal race with a 12 point lead over the French crew Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis with two British crews tied for third just three points further back.
The Australian pair sailed a smart race, kept check of their competition and crossed the line in fourth place to give them a 17 point victory. The win continued the great run they’ve had since teaming up early in 2009, having now won eight of the nine regattas they’ve competed in together.
“It was an interesting medal race,” said Outteridge. “The French were over at the start which sort of gave us the upper hand, from there we tried to maintain the boats around us and sat in fifth or sixth the whole race.”
“There was a bit of position changing in front and behind us but we managed to hold onto our spot and end up with the overall win,” he said.
“There was a lot going on the whole way through the medal race,” said crew Jensen. “We spent the last part of the race trying to figure out who would be second and third as we knew that we were pretty safe as our main competitors were a bit deep. We figured if we held onto fourth we’d be safe and that’s what happened.”
In the men’s 470 class 2010 World Champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page went into the medal race two points behind the French crew of Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos and much like Tom Slingsby experienced earlier in the day it came down to two boats with the Australians and the French covering each other the whole way.
“We went into the medal race knowing that whoever beat who was going to come out with the title,” said Belcher. “We thought we sailed quite a good race, about halfway through we had a bit of an incident with the French and got a penalty which was a bit unfortunate and we spent the rest of the race catching up.”
“The race went right down to the last five metres which was very exciting but unfortunately it didn’t go our way this time,” he said.
The Silver medal capped off a great year for Belcher and Page who have only been sailing together for two years as they were presented with the Gold medals for the overall ISAF Sailing World Cup to go along with their 2010 470 World Championship.
“It’s been a stellar year for us, especially over the last month where we’ve been on fire,” said Page. “In our last four events we’ve had two seconds and two firsts, winning the World Championship was our first priority and winning the World Cup was our second so it’s been a great year, we’ve ticked all the boxes that we wanted to and are coming along well as a team.”
Australian Brendan Casey also featured on the final day of racing in Weymouth, sailing in the Finn medal race. Casey finished the race fifth to move to eighth overall in the Finn class.
The three Golds and Silver medal on the final day came off the back of Daniel Fitzgibbon and Rachael Cox’s Gold on Friday, capping off a great final round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup for the Australian Sailing Team.
The pair dominated the Skud 18 fleet in just their second regatta together since the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, winning seven of the event’s 10 races to take a 3.7 point victory over the World Champion Great Britain crew.
“We’re both thrilled that we won this regatta, it’s our breakthrough win and we’re really happy with the result,” said skipper Fitzgibbon. “I think we’re sailing better now than we did at the Paralympic Games, we’re trying to get better at every regatta, we were better at this regatta than we were at the last and we’re moving forward well.”
Cox was equally happy with the win, just a couple of weeks after their Bronze medal at the 2010 IFDS World Championship.
“We had a great day today, it was good to be putting into place all the things we learnt in Holland,” said Cox. “It was fantastic to finish this trip on a really high note.”
Fitzgibbon and Cox won the opening race of the day before finishing the regatta with a second, a great finale to a busy two months in Europe.
The four gold medals and a silver medal meant Australia was best performed country on the medal table ahead of the French who claimed three gold medals and two silver medals from the thirteen events in Weymouth.