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21 November 2011, 09:57 am
470 Sailors Tune In Preparations At 2011 470 Australian National Championship
Lobke Berkhout
Lobke Berkhout

2011 470 Australian National Championship
Perth, Australia

The Australian National 470 Championships have started out of Fremantle Sailing club with a strong international contingent set to keep the Australian teams on their mettle.
With the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships beginning on 3 December, the 470 Nationals provides local and international competitors, with a perfect lead-in regatta sailed on the same courses as the Worlds.

Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) return to the Nationals to defend their title in the men's competition, while in the women's section it is an open contest, with last year's champion Tessa Parkinson (who sailed with Marieke Jongens) organising the regatta.

Joining Belcher and Page in the men's division are 27 other teams including the number one teams from Japan, Spain, France, Netherlands, USA and New Zealand.

Ahead of racing on day one, Belcher and Page spoke of the luxury of having the international teams competing.

"It adds quality and reputation to the Nationals which is great for the sport and great for the development of competition," Belcher said.

"It's good to have these guys in our neck of the woods for a change,"
Page added.

The world number one ranked Belcher and Page justifiably started the Australian Championships as favourites in the men's, although the pair suggested they wouldn't have it their own way.

"We're more confident against the local guys than the internationals, but we've still got Sam (Kivell) and Will (Ryan) here who are really good sailors and we were neck-and-neck all last week (at Sail Melbourne),"
Page said.

In the women's field, new pairing and winners in their first regatta together at Sail Melbourne, Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell, provide one of the main points of interest.

In their second regatta and the last competitive hit out before the Perth 2011 Worlds, Rechichi and Stowell will be keen to prove that their incredible success in Melbourne was no fluke, while continuing to fine-tune their combination.

Joining them in the women's fleet are local hopes Sasha Ryan and Chelsea Hall along with some international raiders of the highest quality, with all nine of the international teams being within the top 30 on the ISAF World Rankings.

Day One:

Both men and women are sailing in one mixed fleet and Belcher and Page stamped their authority all over the Nationals, firing a clear shot to their rivals by winning both of the races on day one. They subsequently lead the regatta.

Winners of Sail Melbourne Stuart McNay and Graham Biehl (USA) are second in the overall standings and Japan's Ryunosuke Harada and Yugo Yoshida are in third place.

Leaders in the women's competition are the world #16 Dutch team Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout.

Day Two:

Belcher and Page continued their fine form winning Race 3 and 4 and hold an eight point lead over McNay and Biehl. Sven Coster and Kaller Coster are third on 25 points.

In the Women's 470 Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout (NED) sit in eighth overall on 45 points and are the leading women in the 40-boat fleet. Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie are 14th overall trailing the Dutch girls by 14 points.

The Australian National 470 Championships continue at Fremantle Sailing Club until Thursday 24 November.
Perth 2011
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