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12 December 2005, 11:45 am
Sailors Impress Olympic Coach
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Sail Brisbane 2005
Brisbane, Australia

Australian Olympic coach Victor KOVALENKO was impressed when Queensland's Mathew BELCHER and Elise RECHICHI of Perth staged a match race for the Ronstan Sail Brisbane 470 title on Waterloo Bay earlier today.
Both crews were evenly matched in the ideal twelve knot variable sea breeze, sailing most of the third race just seconds apart before skipper BELCHER and crew mate Nick Behrens survived a late tacking duel to stall the challenge from the talented skipper RECHICHI and her equally skilled crew mate Tessa PARKINSON.

KOVALENKO, who coached the Australian 470 squad to win gold in both the men and women's competition at the 2000 Olympic Sailing Competition, was happy with his new generation squad members who staged an interesting tactical dogfight before BELCHER and Behrens narrowly retained their undefeated 1,1,1 score.

Naturally BELCHER was a relieved skipper when he slid across the line after the two skippers tested each others skill to retain speed during an unrelenting tacking duel up the final short beat to the finish.

'Elise and Tessa just never give in and when they get as close as they did you know they are going to fight,' he said.

'They tried all the tricks including short tacks in an attempt to slow the pace but fortunately we were in the position to maintain the upwind advantage, but it was close.

'The competition has reached another level and I'm sure the girls will always prove difficult to beat particularly in the conditions that prevailed today. It was a good result for us to win a tough race.'

The win also allowed BELCHER and BEHRENS to retain a perfect score to lead the Championship by an even wider margin however the threat of a strong wind warning may see them again struggle in light winds before the blow sets in.

Brendan CASEY expressed his tactical knowledge of racing on Waterloo Bay when he again mastered the conditions to lead the Laser class with a 1,2,1,1,3 score.

CASEY was not in real good shape when he rounded the weather mark in sixth place in the first race today however he maintained clear air to draw into second place at the end of the downwind leg where he engaged early race leader David WRIGHT (CAN) in a test of light wind speed.

WRIGHT tried to stay in contact but the course experience employed by CASEY allowed him to score an important win over the aggressive New Zealander Michael BULLOT while Tom SLINGSBY filled third place.

Todays results have allowed CASEY to lead with a three point advantage, with BULLOT second on countback from SLINGSBY.

'I'm confident with my speed and had the chance to finish the day with three wins but got a little careless in heat five and paid the penalty,' CASEY said.

However he remains confident and is race prepared to defend his Australian Championship trophy on the same course over the Christmas New Year holidays.

Ian Grant (As Amended By ISAF)
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