World’s best sailors prepare for Tokyo 2020 on Australian waters
6 December 2018
SAILING: With Sail Sydney currently underway (4 – 9 December 2018) and one week to go to Sail Melbourne (13 – 16 December 2018), Australia’s best Olympic, Youth and Open class sailors will find out exactly where they stand as they prepare to be joined by some of the world’s best at these landmark regattas.
The Olympic 470 class will feature one of the strongest fleets at both events, with four of the current World’s top ten ranked crews racing in a mixed fleet at both events.
Australia’s Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalists and current World #1 Mat Belcher and Will Ryan will be spearheading the fleet, which includes sailors from seven countries and will feature Spanish 2018 World Championships bronze medalists Jordi Xammar Hernandez and Nicolás Rodrigues Garcí-Paz.
Belcher and Ryan recently finished second at the Sailing World Cup event at the Olympic venue in Enoshima, Japan, and are looking forward to racing the internationals on home waters.
“Since Japan, Mat and I have not sailed the 470 very much, but we are fortunate to have these events to keep us in the boat, and to have some internationals to sail against is a bonus. With most of them having done quite a lot of sailing these past months, we will likely be on the back foot, but it will be a good environment for us to try to close the gap,” Ryan said about the events ahead.
While Belcher and Ryan are Australia’s top ranked men’s 470 crew (securing the 2020 Olympic 470 spot for Australia at the 2018 World Sailing Championships in finishing fifth), for many sailors the next year in the lead up to Tokyo 2020 will all be about securing Olympic qualification as well as the top spot in their country.
Japan will also have two entries at both Sail Sydney and Sail Melbourne and with all eyes set on Tokyo 2020, the Japanese 470 program has grown significantly over the last few years.
Japan currently has three crews in the top ten of the 470 World Rankings, and three crews placed in the top four of Sailing World Cup 1 at the end of September. Daichi Takayama and Kimihiko Imamura finished third in Enoshima, while Kazuto Doi and Naoya Kimura finished fourth and both crews will be racing in Australia the next two weeks.
Mat Belcher and Will Ryan have had a close relationship with the Japan 470 sailing program, their sails are manufactured in Japan and they have spent a lot of time training together with the Japanese crews who are also regular competitors at the Australian international sailing events.
“The Japanese sailors are our closest competitors distance wise and it has been good to train together in the summer of each place, so it is fortunate to have the next Olympics in Tokyo,” Will Ryan said.
While most of the international sailing takes place overseas, Ryan always enjoys coming back to race the Australia summer of sailing.
“These events are part of our summer sailing which has formed our foundation over the years of our junior sailing. Getting these regattas in, while the European fleets are struggling with winter, helps us start the next season strong,” Ryan said.
Sail Sydney and Sail Melbourne International are World Sailing 100 points graded Olympic sailing events and as such are ranked as major international events on the World Sailing event calendar.
Olympic class racing will take place in Sydney from Tuesday through to Friday (4 – 7 December 2018). The Invited classes are scheduled for 7 – 9 December 2018.
Sail Melbourne racing starts next week on Thursday, 13 December with entries still open until midnight, December 12 2018.
For more information see the event websites here: