Team chemistry’s one of those unpredictable sciences which can blow-up in the faces of even the biggest names in sport

Malcolm Page (left) and Mat Belcher (right) Malcolm Page (left) and Mat Belcher (right)
Image: Courtesy Victor Kovalenko.

(exhibit A: the NSW Blues of recent campaigns – when will they get it right?). For Malcolm Page and Mat Belcher, though, it’s an occult art they’ve mastered since teaming up in 2008. What Page (below left), the Beijing gold-medallist and four-time world champion, doesn’t know about the 470 (4.7m long) rockets isn’t worth knowing. Belcher’s just about proven himself on the water, too; he was an Australian Sailor of the Year finalist for 2006-07, winning Aussie National Championship gold around the same time.Page, 38, and 28-year-old Belcher have dominated the world of 470 class racing of late, destroying all who dare take them on in the category which has been an Olympic sailing staple since 1976. They’re currently the number-one ranked (by the International Sailing Federation) Men’s 470 pair on the planet, having claimed this year’s 470 World Champs and World Cup, and were leading candidates for the Rolex World Sailor of the Year awards being hosted by Greece in November.Inside Sportcaught up with the duo during a recent training stint at Sydney’s Middle Harbour Yacht Club, where they were already plotting their path to London 2010 gold


MAT BELCHER: “We’ve been racing together since November 2008. When we teamed up, I’d been sailing 470s for seven years, since 2001, and Mal since 1997. I first sailed when I was six or seven in a very small boat in a junior class.

I’ve been on the water for 20 years now.”

MALCOLM PAGE: “I’ve been sailing for 30 years in total. I was eight when I started. I came from a non-sailing family, which I suppose isn’t normal around the waterways.”

470 WHAT?

BELCHER: “The 470 is an Olympic class of sailing. It’s a double-handed – or two-person – class. In fact, it’s the most popular double-handed yacht at the Olympic level. “The ‘470’ just means the yacht is 4.7m long. The Australian system is very fortunate to a have a very good head coach, Victor Kovalenko. We’ve had great success at Olympic level lately; at Sydney and Beijing our men and women won Olympic gold.”

PAGE: “Normally a 470 race is about an hour long, with the courses more or less up and back. At the Olympics, the top ten boats will contest the medal race [or 11th race], which is shorter in time, maybe about 30 minutes long. Each category of race boat requires an ideal sailor body shape for top performance – Mat and I fit the 470 mould perfectly; we’re tall and lanky. I’m the trapeze – a skinny build makes for easier leverage and movement around the boat. Mat is shorter and can really muster the boat around from inside.”