Photography by World Sailing
22 August 2019
Australians Mat Belcher and Will Ryan won Gold in the Men’s 470 and Tom Burton Silver in the Laser at the Ready Steady Tokyo Test event in Japan today. With no breeze on the final day, the final day’s medal races were cancelled and the outcomes thus pre-determined.
These results, fresh off the back of successive wins in their respective World Championships, show promising form for the Australian Sailing Team in its quest for Olympic Gold at the Tokyo Olympics less than a year away.
A running repair to a broken vang at the last moment right on the start line prior to Race Seven was arguably the difference between Gold and Silver for the 470 champs.
Battling around the course to gain a vital 8th Belcher and Ryan demonstrated the ingenuity, resilience and self-reliance which have long been the hallmark of Australian sailors.
“Will and I click and we are happy”, said a delighted Belcher fresh off the course. “It is a unique partnership, and we are pretty hungry for more. We are ready. It is all about next year, but it does give you a lot of confidence, and confirms what you are doing.”
Glowing with pride, revered 470 coach, Victor Kovalenko spoke immediately after the results were declared, “We have just had two top events in the waters that will be used for the 2020 Olympic Games, and have won both. It is an amazing confirmation of where we are at.
“This was one more practice to get used to the conditions, and we were using our spare equipment.
The win is really amazing. What is incredible is just how ready for the medal race Mat and Will were. They were like a loaded spring, ready to unfold.”
Burton, the reigning Laser World Champion, was second in the standings before what would have been an all-important double points medal race today. It was the weather that prevented him the chance of going for Gold.
“Yesterday was obviously a good day for me and also for all at the front of the fleet. Having a bad day before gave me all the impetus to kick on. It is better when you pick the fastest track around the course; it does make you smile. All the little things add up, like starts, and tactics.”
For Burton and all the rest of the sailing team, the hot conditions were very much part of the challenge, a reminder of the sheer physicality of this sport. “The days were long, and brutal, especially at the start of the regatta,” he said. “We are getting more and more used to the vagaries of the conditions, and it is all in the memory bank for the future.”
It was unquestionably a tough day in the office for teammate Matt Wearn, who had been in the top five for the whole regatta, but had to settle for fourth after a few mishaps on the last day. The lack of breeze may have robbed him of the chance for a fight back, but he will have plenty of those in the upcoming World Cup Series event.
With further Olympic selection races scheduled and the World Cup about to commence in Enoshima, the moment of truth will inevitably arrive for the final selection in which only one of two of the superb Laser sailors will be selected.
A less predictable outcome of Ready Steady Tokyo has been the terrific performances from the female sailors with race placings from top five right up to second for the youngest Australian athlete at the event.
For the whole Australian sailing team including the coaches, it is now time for a bit of well-earned rest, Japanese-style. Gold medallist Mat Belcher is laying down the golf clubs for a chance to relax with this family and explore Olympic Village.
With an eye for the horizon, Australian Sailing President Matt Allen is already planning for the success of the team in the Paris Olympics of 2024. And for the hard-working High Performance Director Iain Murray, it will be a rare chance to just not think about pretty much everything, but especially the weather.
Racing in the Olympic classes will continue from Enoshima with the World Cup Series event that commences on August 25 and runs until September 1, 2019. This forms another significant step in the road to Tokyo 2020 for Australia’s Olympians.
Men’s 470 (22 boats)
1st: Mat Belcher and Will Ryan 2, 3, 3, (8), 3, 1, 8, 1, 1, 3 – 25pts
Women’s 470 (20 boats)
14th: Nia Jerwood and Monique de Vries 7, 7, 16, 12, 7, 16, 16, 11, (19), 11 – 102pts
49er (21 boats)
14th: Sam and Will Phillips 5, 5, 2, 8, 18, 12, 16, 16, (22 UFD), 22 UFD, 2, 19 – 125pts
49erFX (23 boats)
6th: Tess Lloyd and Jaime Ryan 4, 13, 8, 15, 3, 19, 6, 3, (20), 9, 8, 5; MR 8 – 101pts
Finn (22 boats)
14th: Jake Lilley 9, 11, 8, 14, 7, 3, 17, 10, 17, 10, 15, (23) UFD – 94pts
Laser (35 boats)
2nd: Tom Burton 4, 8, 6, 4, 7, 13, (27), 15, 4, 2 – 63pts
4th: Matt Wearn 3, 4, 8, 14, 8, 4, (22), 1, 14, 11 – 66pts
Laser Radial (41 boats)
28th: Mara Stransky 29, 41(BFD), 5, 22, 38, 25, 38, 27, 8, 2 – 191pts
Nacra 17 (21 boats)
4th: Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin 4, (20), 13, 5, 5, 4, 3, 3, 4, 2, 3, 9, MR 14 – 69pts