The Australian 470 team of Mat Belcher and Malcom Page won both its races Friday as it continues to dominate the class at the world sailing championships off Fremantle, Australia.
The defending world champions have won six of the eight races and had a third place and ninth place – the latter result being discarded as their worst.
They have a 12-point lead over Britain’s Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, while Canadians Mike Leigh and Luke Ramsay are back in 25th spot over all in the field of 80 dinghys.
“We’re having a good week, racing really well and couldn’t be happier with where we sit at the moment,” Page said on the Australian team website. They have two more races in the series then one final medal race.
“We said in the beginning of the week that this was going to be the difficult day,” said Belcher. “The strategy was to keep our drop (discarded result) until today, expecting the conditions to be variable but to come away with two wins in those conditions was fantastic.”
The Canadians had their work cut out for them to move up the ranks. In race 7 they had a respectable 17th and in race 8 a 26th. Those scores kept them in 25th spot overall.
There were only 29 starters in the eighth race as 11 boats were disqualified in what is known as a Black Flag Start. In a black flag start the Race Committee puts up a black flag as warning gun sounds. Anyone who is over the line early is automatically disqualified - even if the start is called back. The Committee identified 11 boats who were over early and sent them home.
Despite sitting 25th, Leigh and Ramsay are close to qualifying Canada for a spot at the London Games. They are the No. 19 country, riding the qualifying cutoff for an Olympic berth, The Chinese are 10 points back and the Russians are 13 points behind.
The 470's sail on the Owen Course Saturday which will be better suited to the Canadians. The open water also favours the Canadians because they have good boat speed and the fleet should spread out quickly, allowing them to take advantage of their speed.
The Finn fleet also sailed two races in Friday.
Olympic three-time gold medalist Ben Ainslie of Britain has three wins and hasn’t been outside the top three in any finish as he heads for his fifth Olympics. Chris Cook had a 12th and a 17th in races 7 and 8 respectively. He is in 17th position overall and 13th country - well within the 18 spots available for the London Olympics.
Team mate Greg Douglas had a 21 and 24, placing him in 23rd overall. The Finn team is in a comfortable position to qualify here with only 2 races to go in the fleet racing.
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