Net gains

With the setbacks to her Nacra 17 Olympic campaign and recent downtime only providing extra motivation to hone her craft, Lisa Darmanin is back on the water.

Written by Jack O'Rourke
Photography by Beau Outteridge / World Sailing

16 June 2020


Lisa Darmanin started sailing at the age of nine alongside her two brothers at Manly 16ft Skiff Sailing Club.

She then began sailing Hobie 16s with her cousin Jason Waterhouse to give the Youth World Championships a shot, and they represented Australia in 2008 and 2009 in the Multihulls.

But when they heard rumblings of a mixed catamaran class in the Olympics, their path became clear – and that goal was realised when they won the Silver medal in the mixed Nacra 17 at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

This year, Darmanin was selected to represent Australia in the Nacra 17 at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. She talks with Sails about the winding road to Tokyo.


How are you dealing with the postponement of the Olympics?

We’ve taken this opportunity to review our four-year campaign as if the Olympics actually happened – how we would approach things differently, what worked well, and where the gaps are in our training.


It’s been a really nice time to reflect and dive deep into our campaign and how we want to use this extra year. It’s also been a great time to catch up on all my boat work.


Did you find an inventive way to continue your training during lockdown?

We only had a couple of weeks off the water in the end, so were quite lucky. Without any competition, it’s been a good opportunity to mix the gym sessions up, try new things and push more fatigue than I usually would.

I’ve got a small home gym that is set up with some weights, a TRX and a stationary bike. I spent a couple of hours a day in there, six days a week, to try and keep racing fit during lockdown. We were lucky the team lent us some gear; it gave me the flexibility to train around sailing.

I’ve also used this time to work on my mental preparation for racing. I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts about athletes from all different sports. I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos about athletes and read a few biographies. I find it intriguing how different people approach a winning mindset and manage their campaigns.


What do you expect will be your first competitive sailing outing after restrictions are lifted?

Who knows! I’m assuming it will be Sail Sydney with just the locals, but it will be good to race against the next generation. Hopefully, by the time March 2021 rolls around, we will be heading back to Europe to go against the competitors we will be facing at the Games.


Having up-skilled during this break, what advice can you offer sailors who are slowly returning to sailing?

This is a great time to work on boat handling, so lots of tacks, gybes, sets and drops. Making these second nature means that once racing rolls around, you will be able to execute any strategy you might have without being limited by your manoeuvres.

If sailors can’t get out on the water, watching lots of racing online from past World Championships and Olympic Games can be really valuable. Learning what can go wrong and what not to do by others’ mistakes, and also how different people approach boat on boat situations can be interesting.

Overall, it’s a great time to reflect on how far you’ve come and to define the gaps you want to work on when you can get back out there. I’m hoping that will happen for most people soon.


The next chapter

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