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The long game.

After securing a record seventh world 470 championship and his fourth title with Will Ryan, Mat Belcher is back in home waters, guiding future Olympians. He spoke with Brittany Cooper about his plans for 2018.

Mat, how do you feel about the coming year?

I'm excited because the focus starts to shift toward Tokyo 3020. Many of the top teams, us included, used 2017 as a transition year. The focus was on getting over Rio 2016, rather than looking toward Tokyo 2020.

This will be a busy year for us as we look to qualify Australia at the 2018 World Sailing Championships in Aarhus, Denmark. Well also be heading to Japan to get an understanding of what we can expect. At this stage of the year, in early January, everything feels great. We just need to wait until we start racing everyone else!

Are you going over for the World Cup Series in Miami in January?

Unfortunately, not. We have decided to stay in Australia until the start of the European circuit. This year will be busy, and we felt that attending Miami in January would extend our season by too long. Coming from Australia, it is always so far to attend events.

How much training will you be doing in Japan this year compared to last year?

We are fortunate to have a partnership with Japan, and it is only a relatively short flight for us. This gives us an opportunity to go over to Japan more than we could for Rio, however by the time you factor in class events, world cup events, continental and domestic events, plus training, it doesn't leave much time. We are looking to head over to Japan later in the year like we did in 2017.

What's on the cards for the training programs at the Gold Coast 470 sub-site out of the Southport Yacht Club (SYC) Sailing Academy?

The Gold Coast Australian Sailing Team (AST) sub-site has been a long-term project of mine and something I am passionate about. I'm really happy the team has supported this as much as they have, and helped make it happen. The facility is great and it's really helping to give our younger men's and women's squads the support they need to develop. The site provides a central place for Australian 4703 to operate from, and we will be doing a fair number of our Australian training camps there. We have some great programs and initiatives in place to continue Australia's legacy in the 470 class.

How about your mentoring work there, what are you focusing on in those mentoring programs?

As part of the Gold Coast AST sub-site, we were able to introduce a performance program for clubs, targeting sailors looking to gain state-based membership. We also ran a state-based program (in the form of the Queensland Academy of Sport Sailing sub-site) in addition to our national 470 programs. The academy project was about activating all levels of the sport from a central base. The Gold Coast is where I grew up and Southport Yacht Club was the club I learnt to sail from. It was a great starting point.

Caption: GIVING BACK Olympian Mat Belcher continues to compete while nurturing the next generation of Australian sailors.

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Title Annotation:EXPERT VIEW
Author:Cooper, Brittany
Publication:Offshore Yachting
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Feb 1, 2018
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