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16 December 2008, 09:00 am
BELCHER And PAGE Off To A Flyer As ISAF Sailing World Cup Launches Into Action
Mat BELCHER and Malcolm PAGE on their way to victory in today's opening 470 race
Mat BELCHER and Malcolm PAGE on their way to victory in today's opening 470 race

Sail Melbourne 2008
Melbourne, Australia

Australia's Olympic gold medallist Malcolm PAGE was centre of attention as the ISAF Sailing World Cup launched into action on the opening day of Sail Melbourne, with an opening race victory the perfect start to his new partnership with skipper Mat BELCHER.
The first event of the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup began in Melbourne today and the newly formed Australian 470 crew of Mat BELCHER and Malcolm PAGE (AUS) lived up to their billing as star attraction. After a hugely successfully seven years sailing with Nathan WILMOT, including three World Championship titles and culminating with Olympic gold at Beijing 2008, PAGE has teamed up with skipper BELCHER to launch a campaign for the London 2012 Games. Immediately the new pair demonstrated their intentions with a clear victory in the opening race at Sail Melbourne.

Sailing in a mixed fleet combining both men's and women's team, BELCHER and PAGE crossed the line 40 metres ahead of their nearest rival, the West Australian female crew of Stacey OMAY and Chelsea HALL. US sailors Stuart MCNAY and Graham BIEHL, who finished 13th at the Beijing Olympic Games and are making their debut appearance at Melbourne, finished third in today's first race.

"We had a win so we're happy - we ended up going to the wrong mark on the second beat - so it was close, we got a bit of pressure," BELCHER said.

"It's nice to just get in amongst it and race other boats - it's been almost a year since I raced 470s, so I'm very pleased to be back in this boat," he added.

BELCHER and PAGE were prevented from adding to their scorecard by the light wind conditions, which petered out by mid-afternoon and led to the cancellation of over half the races scheduled for the opening day. Of those who managed to get off the line in the 7-8 knot winds, the 470s, Finns and the 49ers all got one race in, with the Laser 4.7 and 2.4 Metre managing to complete their compliment of races.

With neither the Men's or Women's One Person Dinghy fleets getting any racing in, Beijing Olympic gold medallist Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) and Sydney International Regatta winner Michael LEIGH (CAN) will have to wait until tomorrow to get their ISAF Sailing World Cup campaigns underway.

In the Men's Two Person Dinghy High Performance 49er fleet, Paul CAMPBELL-JAMES and Mark ASQUITH (GBR) continued their winning form from the Sydney International Regatta. Earlier this month the British pair finished ahead of reigning World Champion Nathan OUTTERIDGE (AUS) to win in Sydney and scored victory in the opening race in Melbourne today. The New Zealand crew of David MCDIARMID and Andrew ARCHIBALD (NZL) took second place with Australia's William PHILLIPS and Samuel PHILLIPS (AUS) third.

Victoria's Warwick HILL (AUS) was first to salute the judge in race one of the Finn class with Chris CALDECOAT (AUS) and Jake GUNTHER (AUS) in second and third place respectively.

In the 2.4 Metre fleet, equipment for the Single-Person Keelboat event at the Paralympic Games, Michael LEYDON (AUS) won both opening races ahead of Athens Paralympian Peter RUSSELL (AUS).

Click here for all the news on Sail Melbourne 2008.

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
20-28 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.

ISAF (source: Jodi Kelly)
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