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Oars to awesome: Cook wins first 470 title

18 February 2013

SAILING: Two-time Olympic rower Sarah Cook has swapped oars for awesome, winning her first national sailing title just five months after switching to the sport.

The Queenslander quit Australia's "motley crew" women's eight after the London Games to join the nation's world-beating sailing squad.

The decision has paid fast dividends, with Cook and her Beijing gold medallist skipper Elise Rechichi winning the women's 470 dinghy national title off Port Stephens, on NSW's mid-north coast, on Sunday.

"Things are going better than either of us could have hoped," Rechichi admitted.

"Sarah has a great background in rowing but, to jump into a new sport and do so well, is impressive.

"We've shocked a few people with how we're going at this stage and are feeling positive with where we're at."

It was just their third regatta together since teaming up in October.

The pair completed only two out of a possible 10 races at December's Sail Melbourne world cup on Port Phillip Bay.

Bad weather limited their racing there and Cook had to leave the event early because of a prior commitment.

They also finished second at December's Sail Sydney regatta.

Meanwhile, there were no surprises in the men's 470 national competition, with London gold medallist Mathew Belcher and crewmate Will Ryan securing an easy victory at Port Stephens.

The duo have won all three regattas they've contested since teaming up in November, following the retirement of Belcher's former crewmate, double gold medallist Malcolm Page.

And the signs are encouraging as the pair crank up their campaign for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"It was nice to do more racing together and we feel that we're communicating well," Belcher said.

"We have a high standard to reach and we both want to get there as quickly as possible."

Members of Australia's sailing team, which won three golds and one silver at the London Games, are spending this week undergoing fitness testing at the Australian Institute of Sport.

Miles Godfrey
AAP