Mat Belcher and Will Ryan are on the cusp of Australia’s second Olympic sailing gold medal after building an unassailable lead in the men’s 470 class in Tokyo.
Following in the wake of new Olympic Laser champion Matt Wearn, the duo only have to finish and avoid an unlikely disqualification in Wednesday’s medal race to collect the medal.
In the mixed Nacra 17, Australia’s Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin narrowly missed adding a bronze medal to the silver they won in Rio, finishing fifth overall.
Gold Coast ace Belcher is set to collect his second gold medal after winning the event in London nine years ago with Malcolm Page, while he and Ryan, from Newcastle, won silver in Rio in 2016.
Today Mat & Will scored a 2nd and 8th, keeping them in 1st with an almost unassailable 20-point lead into tomorrow's Medal Race. If they contest the race and avoid any false start penalties they will win Gold!@AUSOlympicTeam #GoAusSailors #TokyoTogether
📸 @SailingEnergy pic.twitter.com/NlOjzQI19D
— AusSailingTeam (@AusSailingTeam) August 3, 2021
The Australians held a 19-point buffer atop the 470 leaderboard heading into race nine on Tuesday, and a second place in Enoshima Harbour pushed it out to 22.
In a nerve-wracking 10th race they finished eighth.
But they were still able to retain a 20-point lead over the Swedish team of Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom, who won race 10.
That means they can’t be overtaken despite double points being on offer in the medal race, with Sweden and Spanish duo Jordi Xammer and Nicolas Rodriguez Garcia-Paz battling for the minor medals.
Olympic debutant Wearn enjoyed the same “victory lap”, taking a 22-point lead in the medal race.
Another medal will secure 38-year-old Belcher’s status as Australia’s most successful Olympic sailor.
Sadly for the pair, the men’s 470 event has been cut from the Paris 2024 Olympic program as part of the International Olympic Committee’s push for gender equality, with a mixed boat taking their place.
In the mixed Nacra 17, cousins Waterhouse and Darmanin headed into the medal race in fourth spot and looked in good shape to leapfrog Germany into the bronze medal position when the Germans were penalised on the start line.
But they fell back through the field to finish ninth in the medal race, which left them fifth overall, with Italy taking gold and Great Britain silver.
In the Finn class Jake Lilley finished third in the final race and seventh overall, with Giles Scott winning gold.
It was Great Britain’s second gold in an hour at Enoshima, with Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell also taking out the men’s 49er class.
Brazil’s Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze won the women’s 49er FX gold medal earlier in the day.