Gold class

Australian sailor Matthew Wearn wins gold at the Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères.

With gold already secured on Friday, Australia’s Matthew Wearn went out on the final day and did what he has been doing all week – blasted past the opposition and won the medal race. That made it 8 races wins out of 12 and he finished 33 points clear.

Matthew Wearn commented, “I’m really happy. It’s nice to get a win under my belt in 2019 and relieves a bit of pressure, you know what it takes to win regattas. (The Medal Race) is almost easier when you have already won because you can just go for it and ground the track as fast as you can.”

Australia coach Michael Blackburn was rapt with Wearn’s performance. “It’s been pretty good. Hyères is a pretty familiar venue for us, I’ve been here 19 times, these guys are up to 6, 7, 8 times too. I think the Laser fleet is still very open. Matt (Wearn) had a great regatta here. He sailed really well, but he knows he’s only as good as his last race and there’s more to come in two weeks at the Europeans in Porto.”

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“We’ve only got two regattas in Europe this year, this and the European so both are important working towards the Test Event and Olympic qualification and they know that. (Managing a big successful team) It’s a personality thing, these guys have really good personalities and they understand that it’s a competition but that ends when they come ashore and they get on really well with each other.”

New Zealand’s Rio 2016 bronze medallist, Sam Meech, did not have the race he wanted, but he had a five-point buffer over Australia’s youngster, Luke Elliott and a sixth-placed finished was enough for silver. Elliott started well but dropped back to finish seventh and his more experienced countryman, Tom Burton, the Rio 2016 Olympic champion, finished fourth to win bronze by a heart-breaking point. Australia finished with four sailors in the top six.

This is the reason we came – we know Hyères is a great sailing venue, usually we get all the races here and we’ve been coming back for quite a while now. It wasn’t quite going to plan (in the medal race),” said Sam Meech.

“I thought I was doing the right thing, but I got stuck in between trying the sail shifts and get into he positions I needed to be. I went a little defensive and got lost on the first beat.

“I was mid-fleet the whole race. I was a boat behind Luke (Elliott) for most of the race, I was just trying to stick on his tail, then I got past him, he was unlucky he got flagged in the last run. Although, in this weather that doesn’t cost you that much because you turn and you’re still right in it.

It really tightened up between everyone on the last run. For me it was that Thursday (two 13th places), one bad day, but otherwise pretty happy with how I sailed the rest of the week.”

australiansailingteam.com.au