Photography by Robert Hajduk
28 November 2023
Townsville’s Breiana Whitehead has made sailing and sporting history, becoming the first Kitefoil sailor to be selected for an Australian Olympic Team.
Kitefoil racing will make its debut at Paris 2024, with the discipline set to excite when competition commences on the waters of Marseille in July next year.
This will be Whitehead’s Olympic debut, as she becomes the first Australian sailor selected to the Australian Olympic Team for Paris.
Breiana says it’s hard to comprehend her journey from young athlete to the Olympic Games. “I’m really excited to know that I have been selected to represent Australia in Kitefoiling,” she said.
“I’m stoked that I’ll be racing in the debut of Kitefoiling in the Olympics and keen for the world to have a front row seat of our high adrenaline sport.
“If you told the little girl from Townsville who was obsessed with sailing that she was going to the Olympics in 2024 I don’t think she would have believed you,” she concluded.
Kite Foil sailors can reach speed in excess of 30 knots (just over 55kms/hr) as they negotiate racing tactics, competitors’ kites lines and the ocean in the newest Olympic class.
Australian Sailing President Alistair Murray spoke on behalf of the sport before the announcement.
“Australian Sailing is incredibly proud of Breiana, and we can’t wait for the world to get a taste of what we have known for years – that Kitefoil racing is hugely exciting and that we have one of the very best athletes right here in Australia,” said Murray.
“Australia has a rich history of success in Olympic sailing, and we look forward to seeing Brei and the rest of the team add to that in Paris next year,” he concluded.
The 23-year-old Townsville athlete’s selection was announced by Chef de Mission for the Australian Olympic Team Anna Meares in Sydney today.
“Every athlete selected on the Australian Olympic Team has an inspiring story. Breiana is no exception.
“She started sailing in Townsville as an eight-year-old, trying many classes over her time before settling on the new class of Kitefoil – and now she is going to represent her country in Paris at the Olympic Games.
“Congratulations to Breiana for this amazing achievement in an exciting time for the Kitefoil class which is making its first Olympic appearance in Paris. Breiana’s success is a tribute to those people who have supported her from a young age – her family, coaches and others who have played a part.
Australian Sailing Team High Performance Director Iain Brambell thanked the support Brei had been given along her path to Paris.
“Brei began sailing at the Townsville Yacht Club from a young age, and with the support of her club coaches and her family has today realised her dream,” said Brambell.
“We would also like to thank her Australian Sailing Team coach Shane Smith, and the team at the Queensland Academy of Sport for their role in Brei’s career to date.”
Breiana achieved a quota place for the Paris 2024 Games after placing eleventh in the Sailing World Championships held in The Hague, the Netherlands in August this year.