The first event for the new pairing of BELCHER and PAGE will be Sail Melbourne, starting next Tuesday 16 December and continuing through to 21 December. Sail Melbourne is the first event of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, the new annual series for Olympic sailing. PAGE is the second Beijing gold medallist to confirm his participation in Melbourne, with Laser Radial gold medallist and world #1 ranked skipper Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) also set to compete.
"We can't wait to get started," said PAGE of his new partnership. "Our first aim will be to win the 470 Worlds - and that's not as big an ask as some may think. Mat and his former crew Nick [BEHRENS] won a lot of Grade 1 events. We've had a couple of training sessions already and we'll kick our campaign off in the first round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup later this month," he said.
A Class Act
Over the period 2001-2008, WILMOT and PAGE formed one of the most formidable and successful partnerships in the history of the 470 class. Together they won three World Championship titles, multiple continental titles, numerous ISAF Grade 1 events, topped the ISAF Sailing World Rankings and finished with the ultimate prize as they scored Olympic gold in Qingdao this August.
Reflecting on the team's success together in an interview with the International 470 Class Association's 470eTimes, PAGE said success had been hard won, "We had some good times together, however with ups and downs. We saw Sydney 2000 going by, we failed in Athens 2004 and missed the gold medal at the Worlds in 2006. Those are about the hardest things we had to deal with in eight years fighting for what we have achieved last August. We have learned from failures; What doesn't kill us, makes us strong." he said.
Whilst WILMOT has decided to leave the 470 behind in search of new challenges, PAGE clearly still has a lot of affection for the class, "The 470 is an amazing class, and the boat is very technical. The boat is suitable for multiple sizes of human bodies, which allows people from all over the world to sail it.
"The global competition in the 470 class is phenomenal. Compared to many other classes, the crew in a 470 is able to control a lot in the boat." he says.
ISAF Sailing World Cup
The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 consists of the following events:
16-21 Dec 2008 - Sail Melbourne The Asia Pacific Regatta, Melbourne, Australia
25-31 Jan 2009 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA
4-10 April 2009 - Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain
18-24 April 2009 - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France
27-31 May 2009 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, Netherlands
20-29 June 2009 - Kieler Woche, Kiel, Germany
14-19 Sept 2009 - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain
Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup, including more on the seven events, the scoring system and the Notice of Series at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.