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Mat Belcher & Will Ryan (AUS)

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Name Mat Belcher & Will Ryan
Nation Australia
Date of Birth MB - 20 September 1982, WR - 23 December 1988
Place of Birth MB - Gold Coast, AUS, WR - Sydney, AUS
Class sailed 470
Website Twitter @BelcherMathew
Click here for a photo gallery

Mat Belcher and Will Ryan have dominated the Men's 470 class, finishing on the podium at every major regatta they've competed at. Whilst their unbeaten run was ended in January 2014 their hunger for victory was intensified as they left their rivals in their wake at the Santander 2014 ISAF Worlds and Open European Championship. Their victory in Santander was their second consecutive world title together and brings Belcher's tally to a record-breaking five in a row.

Achievements between 31 September 2013 and 21 September 2014

Major achievements

200 Point regattas
1 - Santander 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships, ESP

2013-2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup
1 - ISAF SWC Hyeres, FRA
3 - ISAF SWC Mallorca, ESP
2 - ISAF SWC Miami, USA
1 - ISAF SWC Melbourne, AUS

100 point regattas
1 - 470 European Championships, GRE
1 - 2014 Aquece Rio - International Sailing Regatta, BRA
1 - 2014 Zhik Australian 470 Class Championships
3 - Kiel Week, GER

#1 ISAF Sailing World Rankings throughout 2014.


What inspired you to take up sailing?

MB - The dream of competing at the Olympic games and the challenges that sailing represents.
WR - My Grandfather introduced me to sailing at a young age. At the age of about 10 when we moved to a house on the edge of Lake Macquarie, the desire to be on or near the water began to take over my life. A chance meeting with my now Coach Victor Kovalenko opened the dream to competing at the Olympic games and the unique environment of elite sport.

What was the first boat you ever sailed and how old were you?

MB - A 10 year old wooden Sabot (similar to an Optimist) tied to the back of my parents boat when I was about 6 or 7 years old.
WR - At 2 days old my family took me aboard my Grandfathers yacht on Sydney Harbour to watch the start of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race; however it was not until many years later (around 11.y.o.) when my parents bought an old wooden Sabot that I began to learn to be able to sail for myself on the waters of Lake Macquarie, Australia.

Name your first sailing club

MB - Southport Yacht Club and Royal Queensland Yacht Club
WR - Royal Queensland Yacht Club and then Toronto Amateur Sailing Club

What was the first event you competed in and in what year?

MB - A club race at Southport Yacht Club in 1989, my local yacht club.
WR - A club race at Toronto Amateur Sailing Club sailing in perhaps 1999.

What are you personal sailing career highlights?

MB - Winning Gold at the London 2012 Olympics and becoming first skipper in the history of our class to win five consecutive World Titles.
WR - Winning both the Australian National Championship, the Open European Championship and the 470 World Championship Titles two years in a row under the guidance of our Coach Victor.

What are your future sailing goals?

MB - To win another Gold in Rio 2016
WR - To win Gold in Rio 2016.

Who has had the greatest impact on your sailing and career and why?

MB - My family and my coach Victor Kovalenko who have guided me through my sailing career and enabled me to achieve my goals.
WR - My family who created an environment in which I was always supported and encouraged, and my sailing coaches Jenni Bonnitcha, Larry Cargill and now Victor Kovalenko who at different stages in my sailing career have pushed me to reach for new levels. Victor is both a life coach as well as a sailing coach.

Who is your sailing hero?

MB - I think every young sailor's hero at some point would have to have been Paul Elvstrom and Ben Ainslie. However, what our coach Victor has achieved and the way he has guided us to the ultimate success, it would have to be him. He is an amazing man.
WR - The list is big, however it begins with my Grandfather. Many sailing heroes have emerged at different times while I have been a sailor, and many have had impacts on my approach to sailing and life choices. The sport is diverse and it is what makes it so unique in that so many people can display their excellence or use it as a medium to share their message or story.

What other sports do you enjoy?

MB - Running, Golf, cycling, kite surfing and playing with my son (should be a sport).
WR - Cycling, kite surfing, triathlon, rock climbing, squash.

What does being nominated for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards mean to you and how would you feel if you were voted the winner?

MB - Being nominated is one of the greatest recognitions you can achieve in our sport. Having been voted the winner for 2013, it is a very special feeling and a great honour to be compared to the many sailing greats past and present.

WR - Being nominated is very special and very humbling; particularly to see the list of amazing achievements of past winners of the Award. A coach once encouraged me to dream of being the winner of the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year - so in that sense it would be a dream come true. To receive the award would feel an amazing recognition for the hardwork of our team these past years.
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