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Australia’s champion 470 men’s team,
Mat Belcher & Will Ryan, sailed into
history when they won the 2017 470 World
Championships on 16 July in Thessaloniki,
Mat Belcher has now become Australia’s
most successful Olympic class skipper in
history with a seventh world crown. Belcher
was tied with Tornado catamaran skipper
Darren Bundock prior to the event on six
world titles but set a new mark as he and
crew mate Will Ryan sailed to their fourth world title together.
Belcher had won every championship from 2010-2015 but stumbled
last year to a third on the weed infested Argentinian course.
Under the guidance of coach Victor Kovalenko Australia now
has 11 of the last 19 Men’s World titles. Kovalenko’s charges have
19 titles in all, across 470 Men’s and Women’s classes.
Going into the medal race Belcher and Ryan were a single
point behind the triple Olympian Anton Dahlberg and Frederic
Bergstrom (SWE), who had sailed strongly for the first part of
the regatta but faded from race eight onwards. Whichever of
those two teams won the medal race would take gold and the
other would take silver.
It was all over in the pre-start as Belcher explained.
“ The strategy was quite simple going into the race. All we had
to do was to beat them and they had the same.
“ So, we were match racing in the pre-start. We were pushing
them hard and we managed to keep the controlling position,
we had a hook on them and with around 15 seconds to go we
forced them forward. We were all close to the line and obviously
concerned they were over, they went back and we continued. At
that point, the Championship was decided.
“ The Swedes were still dead last at the third mark, we followed
the Turks across the finish line, realized they did not get the gun
and saw the course board which showed they were OCS, so we
had won the medal race and the World Championship.”
The Swedes took silver and Bargehr and Mahr (AUT) bronze.
“It’s pretty exciting to win another World Championship with
Will,” Belcher continued.
“ The Swedish guys started this event ver y strongly and should
be very proud of their achievement. They must be disappointed
having led the regatta until almost but not quite to the end and
I am certainly feeling for them.”
Will Ryan was grinning. “Obviously we are really happy with
Mat’s seventh title, my fourth, I am not going to catch him on
the same boat.
“ The prestart was the race. When the individual recall flag
went up I am sure everyone was doubting themselves but the
Swedes went back. We had a chance to go back with them but
I think we just capitalized on that opportunity and went on to
control their race from there.
“It was very special. I had both my parents here. It was the
first time my mother has seen me win a Worlds so it was a really
nice time for her to be here.”
Coach Victor Kovalenko summed it up.
“A lot of hard work from a very talented and experienced team
has delivered their fourth World Championship win,” Kovalenko
said. “For events, you need to have a strategy to deliver results.
You have two options, a lot of teams took the high-risk route, as
did the Swedes, the Turks and the Austrians, and that worked
quite well but ours was the proven low risk high performance
approach and in the end, that was the best.”
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan with coach Victor Kovalenko.
Belcher & Ryan take
historic victory at
470 World Championship
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