12:09 AM Thu 5 Apr 2012 GMT
Australian sailors have had a great day on the water on day three of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Palma, Spain, with many crews working their way up the leaderboard in the light conditions.
'ISAF Sailing World Championship. AUS Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell - 470 Women'
Alex McKinnon - Copyright
Finals series racing will begin on Thursday with six Australian crews going into it in their respective class' top 10s. In the Laser class Tom Burton has the lead with Tom Slingsby fourth, 470 sailors Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page are second with fellow Australians Sam Kivell and Will Ryan sixth, Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell are third in the 470 women and Krystal Weir is eighth in the Laser Radials.
Tom Burton had a consistently strong day in the Laser fleet with a pair of sixth place finishes giving him a four point lead at the head of the fleet.
'Today was pretty solid day, it could have been better, but then again could have been worse with the lighter breeze today,' said Burton. 'In the first race a big shift dropped me a few places to go from fourth to sixth by the finish and in race two I went down the last run in first but sat in a hole and finished sixth again.
'I'll go through the same process for tomorrow's finals series, as I still need more good results to keep the lead,' he said. 'Though everyone in the top group has around a similar drop, so it will be who sails the best in gold fleet.'
Tom Slingsby started the day 10th with a fourth and a second in the light breeze moving him up to fourth overall, seven points behind Burton.
'It was a good day with a four and a two,' said Slingsby. 'It was tricky sailing, very light and I was able to have some big comebacks which was lucky, I had some really good downwind speed today and was able to pull back a lot of boats downwind.
'If it stays this light and shifty in the finals series there will be some big scores, but I'm just enjoying being back racing,' he said.
Australia will have five sailors in the Laser gold fleet with Ashley Brunning ending the day 34th, ahead of Ryan Palk in 44th and Jared West in 45th.
West had an amazing day's racing, heading into day three he was 92nd overall and knew that nothing short of two wins would qualify him for the 45 boat Gold fleet, so the Queenslander went out and did exactly that, beating a strong fleet including the reigning Olympic Gold medalist to secure his spot.
In the 470 men's fleet Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page also worked their way up the ladder on day three with the reigning World Champions moving from fifth to second after finishing with a second and a third.
'We were faced with the same conditions again today, a light breeze under seven knots for most of the day but we managed to get two good results,' said Belcher. 'We felt better in the boat and are now looking forward to gold fleet racing from tomorrow. Racing against all the top crews in these light conditions is going to be intense but great practice in conditions we don't get at home.'
Belcher and Page are joined in the top 10 by Sam Kivell and Will Ryan who picked up their second win of the regatta and a 12th to move up to sixth overall.
'We're definitely more than happy with our progress so far at this event,' said Kivell. 'We were both a bit nervous having not done any regattas for over four months but the lighter winds have been good to ease us back into it. It's just been a bit of a handful getting used to having the other 50 boats in our fleet as well as the other fleets around us.
'It's been a tricky mix of conditions but for me its really just a challenge of keeping focused on our trim, looking up the course, and trying to not let the heart rate get too high,' he said. 'We're expecting more of the same racing in the final series, but the boats just tend to bunch that little bit tighter making it even more a game of centimeters.'
'We have good speed in these conditions and played our cards right in the first race giving us the win,' said crew Will Ryan. 'We were back in the pack in the second race, but managed to climb back to a 12th which puts us in a good position going into the finals series.
'We're still finding our feet again in the big fleet after a few months break from racing, but it's all coming back quickly so we're quite happy,' he said.
Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell continue to impress in just their fourth regatta together, with a race win and a ninth on Wednesday moving them to third overall.
'Today was a good one,' said Rechichi. 'While we're still making lots of mistakes, we're happy with how we are progressing. Every day is presenting a new opportunity to grow together as a team, and our results are reflecting that.
'We still have four races to go before the medal race, and again, while it would be nice to post a result here we are very much focused on the process and building strength and consistency in our team,' she said.
Krystal Weir has worked her way back up to eighth in the Laser Radial fleet following a 12th and a third, and finds herself in a tight of group of sailors. Fellow Laser Radial sailor Caitlin Elks is 39th after a 16th and a 17th.
Brendan Casey also made his way forward in the Finn fleet on day three, moving from his overnight 22nd to be 14th with four fleet races and the medal race remaining.
Casey had a regatta best sixth and a 13th and finds himself just 12 points outside the top 10.
In the Women's Match Racing competition Australians Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty had their first three races of the gold round robin, to decide the rankings for the quarterfinals.
Price and crew had a tough day on the water with three losses but took a lot out of the day ahead of the next stage of racing.
'We had some tight racing in the gold fleet round robin, but unfortunately didn't come away with any wins on the board with three losses,' said Price. 'However it was a great learning day for us to recognise our mistakes in a couple of our decisions.
'This round is a seeding round for the quarterfinals, which enables us to get even more races against some of our competitors before the finals stages start tomorrow,' she said.
Full results can be found at
by Craig Heydon