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Rio Olympic Test Event

The Aquece Rio Regatta held from August 15-22nd acts as a full scale rehearsal for the Olympic Games with only one entry allowed per nation. The event, which is hosted from the Marina de Gloria on the edge of Guananbarra Bay, is the only event of its type in the lead up to Rio 2016.

After a testing week in mixed conditions, Mat and Will raced hard in a thriller final double-points medal race. A tightly fought second place finish in the medal race secured them first place overall! Points had been tight across the fleet. After a disqualification earlier in the week for a premature start, Team Aus11 had slowly clawed themselves back into overall contention as the event neared completion. Entering the final day in second place overall, the team’s final position was no certainty with the possibility open between first and ninth! A mistake by the leading Croatian team at the final start was all the initiative Mat and Will needed to race for the win, but with the notoriously fickle and unpredictable winds of the Olympic ‘Pao de Sucre’ Medal Race course, it was not until the final upwind mark that the team squeezed through into the virtual ‘on-water’ leader position.

Ashore the team was met with huge support from fellow team mates and supporters as well as Olympic Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller, and an entourage of film crew and reporters from all major Australian broadcasters. As the team closes in on the final stretch to Rio 2016 and with the Australian Sailing Team securing top national team at the event, Mat summarised that the team’s success was largely a by-product of hard work and due to ‘a really good support system. The Australian Sailing Team, the coaches, our support staff and the other athletes all work together. It’s a great feeling. We feed off of each other’s success and we’ve got a lot of talent. We’re trying to prove it every day when we go out on the water and we want to be world number one.”

Rio Olympic Test Event – A thriller final

Rio Olympic Test Event – Acquece Rio Regatta© Sailing Energy

This event makes it the teams third win on Rio waters after winning last year’s test event as well as the Copa Brasil de Vela in December 2014. Despite the controversy in the media surrounding venue and water standards, Will commented ‘ The Marina is still not complete, and controversy over water conditions and water pollution continues. However we are here to do what we do, to sail and race hard. There is only one outcome next year that will do, and that is what we are focused on… Gold in Rio 2016’.

The team will now take a short rest before resuming training in Australia in preparation for the defence of the 470 World Championships which will be contested in Haifa, Israel from October 10 – 17th, 2015.

by Mat Belcher and Will Ryan

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