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Matt Wearn adds silver medal to stellar year at World Championships Aarhus

by David Sygall 11 Aug 04:12 BST 30 July - 12 August 2018

Australian Sailing Team Laser racer Matt Wearn has won the World Championship silver medal after a nail-biting medal race in which the West Australian came desperately close to claiming gold at Aarhus in Denmark.

In a race that featured gusty squalls followed by fading breeze, Wearn finished one spot ahead of eventual winner Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus in the double points finale, but needed to put another boat between he and the defending champion to seize the big prize.

Nevertheless, Wearn proved once again that he is among the form Laser sailors in the world. His silver medal now sits alongside his win at the Palma Regatta in April in Spain and his achievement in becoming the first Australian since Tom Slingsby in 2008 to win the Laser European Championship.

Australia's Rio Olympic gold medallist Tom Burton came 4th in the medal race and 7th overall, completing a strong showing for the nation's proud Laser squad in which all five Team members finished in the top 20 of the 165-boat fleet. Wearn's 2nd placing comfortably qualified Australia for a spot on the start line at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

"I think the Laser's always going to be a close regatta," he said after the last race.

"It goes to show at the last few Worlds, it was always really tight on points and to win you really have to have the best regatta. You have to be sailing perfectly. You can't afford to have these little mistakes and, at the end of the day, it's the difference between a gold and silver medal.

"But I'm just happy to be so consistently up there in the top 5 and proving that I'm one of the best in the world.

"The big picture is the Olympics in two years' time, or just under two years now, so this is a big step in the right direction. Selection for getting on that team is probably going to be one of the biggest fights, as it kind of was in the last quad as well. With Tom being in the top 10 too, it shows he can still win regattas. It's going to be all on. It's an exciting 18 months ahead, I think."

Wearn suggested the medal race was a tough test of skill and some luck.

"Initially we were pretty happy to go out there. It was pretty breezy. First up we had a massive gust come through with a rain squall, it was probably close to 30 knots. Then the wind kind of shut off at the top mark and it made for a tricky race.

"You had to be pretty on to the pressure and unfortunately I didn't get a puff when I maybe needed a puff and I just couldn't round that last boat to win the World Championship. Ended up with a silver medal."

The three last finals races were held in the Nacra 17. Rio silver medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin scored a first-up bullet and are 6th heading into Sunday's medal race, while Nathan Outteridge and Haylee Outteridge slipped back from 1st to 2nd, though only by a slender margin.

Darmanin revealed that injury hampered her helm's performance late in the day.

"The first race we really went for it and we got a bullet, which was really cool," she said.

"We sent it pretty hard on the downwind to make sure we secured that and I was loving the whole thing. But unfortunately in the first race Jas's back went – we've been struggling with that a bit over the years – and it wasn't really good day for that to happen.

"He was a bit of trooper and pushed through the 2nd race and we got a 4. By the last race he couldn't look around and it was just really hard. Unfortunately we had a bad one which pushed us back a little bit. But, to get through that day, I'm really proud of him."

The Outteridge brother and sister team, who only joined the Nacra 17 scene this year after sailing 49ers, are just a point behind the leaders from Italy.

"After quite a solid day yesterday in 6-8 knots, we moved up the leaderboard to get the yellow bibs and today we were out there battling to maintain them," Nathan said.

"I think the points are pretty close going in to the medal race."

Haylee said: "It's definitely the windiest we've ever sailed in. We definitely need to put in a little bit more time training sailing upwind. We were a bit off the pace, so we were trying to make our gains on the downwind and just managing what we could upwind.

Unfortunately, no Australians will feature in the 49erFX medal race tonight (AEST), though youngsters Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot, who finished 11th overall, managed to secure the nation a qualification place for Tokyo. In the men's division Will Phillips and Iain Jensen finished 14th and David Gilmour and Joel Turner finished 16th. Phillips and Jensen missed the qualification cut-off by two places, making the path to Tokyo a tricky one.

For further details about Olympic qualification quotas, see - bit.ly/2O1zpQC

Australian Team and Squad Results after Day 9:

Laser – completed
Matt Wearn – 7, 4, 1, 4, 3, 1 Gold Fleet 3, 9, (14), 13 MR 16 – 2nd
Tom Burton – 1, 5, 6, 1, 2, 27 Gold Fleet 11, 5, (DSQ), 19 MR 8 – 7th
Finn Alexander – 6, 7, 5, 40, 16, 14 Gold Fleet 10, (BFD), 18, 1 –13th
Luke Elliott – 13, 1, 2, 6, 3, 1 Gold Fleet (48), 21, 29, 45 – 15th
Mitch Kennedy – 8, 10, 22, 3, 4, 5 Gold Fleet (42), 25, 27, 11 – 16th

Laser Radial - completed
Zoe Thomson – 28, 15, 4, 24, 5, 30 Gold Fleet 35, (59), 52, 35 – 43rd
Elyse Ainsworth – 21, 27, 28, 23, 22, 38 Gold Fleet 34, 20, (54), 18 – 44th
Mara Stransky – 27, 34, (43), 41, 41, 12 Silver Fleet 11, 5, 12, 18 – 62nd

49er - completed
Will Phillips/Iain Jensen – 3, (19), 6, 1, 6, 12 Gold Fleet 9, 19, 24, 19, 5, 11 – 14th
David Gilmour/Joel Turner – 5, 1, 15, 14, 2, 23 Gold Fleet 13, 7, 10, (29), 22, 3 – 16th
Lachy Gilmour/Ryan Donaldson – 20, 13, 7, (26), 14, 7 Silver Fleet 2, 2, 11, 22, 9, 11 – 35th
Kurt Hansen/Harry Morton – 15, 27, 18, 18, 17, 18 Silver Fleet 6, 25, 18, 16, 7, (BFD) – 73rd

49erFX - completed
Natasha Bryant/Annie Wilmot - 7, 13, 14, 1, 9, 2 Gold Fleet 2, 13, 5, (28), 28, 26 – 11th
Amelia Stabback/Ella Clark - 5, 5, 13, 12, 17, 9 Gold Fleet 19, (28), 21, 19, 12, 11 – 21st
Tess Lloyd/Jaime Ryan – (21), 20, 18, 17, 8, 15 Silver Fleet 13, 5, 1, 6, 1, 7 – 32nd

Nacra 17
Nathan Outteridge/Haylee Outteridge – 5, 5, 13, 5, 8, 3, 7 Gold Fleet 1, 3, 5, (18), 9, 6 – 2nd
Jason Waterhouse/Lisa Darmanin – 5, 4, 3, (BFD), 4, 5, 5 Gold Fleet 2, 27, 14, 1,4, 17 – 6th
Paul Darmanin/Lucy Copeland – 20, 14, 5, 20, 5, 17, 20 Gold Fleet 12, 17 29, 17, (33), 30 – 26th
Conor Nicholas/Hayley Clark – 11, 31, 21, 27, (DNF), 7, 5 Silver Fleet BFD, 24 – 47th

Finn - completed
Jake Lilley – 20, 23, 6, 2, 15, 9 Gold Fleet (28), 3, 2, 28 – 16th
Oliver Tweddell – 11, 17, 24, 21, 24, 15 Gold Fleet (45), 21, 3, 14 – 28th
(Tom Slingsby) – 11, 18, 16, 17, 18, 21 Gold Fleet 13, 27, 26, (40) – 34th
Jock Calvert – (44), 24, 17, 26, 30, 25 Silver Fleet 1, 2, 2 – 48th
Lewis Brake – (34), 14, 23, 17, 30, 30 Silver Fleet 32, 6, 7 – 52nd

470M - completed
Mat Belcher/Will Ryan – 3, 13, 8, 4, 2, 4 Gold Fleet 1, 12, (14), 10 MR 8 – 5th
Chris Charlwood/Josh Dawson – 19, 12, 10, 20, 9, 16 Gold Fleet 12, 5, (26), 6 – 15th

470W - completed
Nia Jerwood/Monique de Vries – (35), 16, 14, 22, 29, 24, 14 – 25th
Dana Tavener/Katherine Shannon – 27, 41, 26, 40, 41, (46), 38 – 43rd

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