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Belcher and Page thrilled champions

11 December 2011

Jubilant Australian sailing stars Malcolm Page and Mathew Belcher say fighting spirit helped them secure their second consecutive world title in front of a thrilled home crowd in Fremantle.

The world no.1 470 dinghy class crew were ecstatic as they crossed the medal race finish line in Bathers Bay on Sunday, punching the air in delight and unfurling a large Australian flag.

"It's a great day," Page said.

"We didn't have a great start out there, we sort of found ourselves at the back of the pack.

"But we fought hard and we didn't give up until the very end and it's a great feeling."

Belcher and Page were certain of being crowned world champions as long they didn't finish last in the 10-boat medal race.

It was hardly vintage sailing from the pair, who found themselves in sixth place as they rounded the first mark.

But they battled back through the field and finished fourth, with the race won by silver medallists, Great Britain's Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell.

Belcher said the win gives the pair confidence heading into next year's Olympics.

Page was thrilled at being able to cruise past the large grandstand packed with supporters, flying the Aussie flag at the end of the race.

"It's very cool," he added. "We do a lot of our racing overseas, far, far from home so to have all the Aussie cheering on and all the flags was really good."

Earlier, Dutch sailor Marit Bouwmeester won the women's Laser Radial world title in a nailbiting race.

Belgium's Evi van Acker was leading the medal race just 100 metres from the finish line and was on course to take overall victory.

But she was ordered to do a penalty turn for a positional infringement, allowing Bouwmeester to overtake, winning the race and the title.

Australian Krystal Weir finished 19th in the event with a few poor races pulling down her overall ranking.

In the women's RS:X Sailboard event Australia's triple-Olympian Jessica Crisp finished 16th.

Fellow Aussie Brendan Casey finished 19th in the Finn class.

Miles Godfrey

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