Photography by Beau Outteridge
17 December 2023
Australia added two more Paris 2024 Olympic nation quotas on the final day of Sail Sydney, with the 49er and Women’s iQFOiL joining the Mixed 470 and Nacra 17.
Australian Sailing Team duo Jim Colley and Shaun Connor achieved the nation quota when they won the 49er class ahead of Tom Needham and Miles Davey and the team of Tom Burton and Max Paul.
“We’re really happy to cap off the season with a win on home waters,” said Colley.
“We got four days of different conditions which was great. There were some light and shifty days early and some bigger breezes later in the week which kept racing really close among the Australian squad which is what we want.”
Although not quite reaching yesterday’s heights, it was another heat-impacted day across the two race venues.
The iQFOiL classes raced on Botany Bay and in the Women’s event it was Samantha Costin romping to victory and securing the nation quota for Australia in the process. Grae Morris put a similar gap on the field in the men’s event, with both taking home the Sail Sydney wins in addition to the titles of 2023 iQFOiL National Champions.
Australia’s ILCA 6 squad continued their very positive performance trajectory, with excitement rising for the impending 2024 Worlds in January coupled with an expected close competition setting up for Australia’s Paris Olympic selection. This week it was Western Australian Elyse Ainsworth who came out on top ahead of squad mates Casey Imeneo and Zoe Thomson.
“It was a tough week,” noted Ainsworth. “I think collectively as a squad we really pushed each other, and it was a good lead-up for the worlds in January.
“Sailing on Sydney Harbour is tricky, you need good eyes with all the traffic. I pieced together a good race today and was happy to come away with the win.”
Hector Patarau was the best-placed Australian in the Men’s Kitefoil where he finished third overall. That was good enough to win a second National Championship, but unfortunately not the Paris nation quota with New Zealander Lukas Walton-Keim coming second.
“I had a little incident on the bottom mark where Mikhael (Novikov of Vanuatu) and I tangled, so I did a penalty turn and finished third in the race and third overall,” said Patarau.
“Obviously disappointed with the result but happy with how I sailed during the event. I will now have a rest before the European season next year, which includes the Last Chance regatta in Hyeres which will be another opportunity to qualify Australia for the Games.”
Australian Sailing High Performance Director Iain Brambell was “pleased” with the outcome of the week.
“We were able to secure the four additional qualification quota spots for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, which is a good outcome.
“The athletes had to overcome some trying conditions throughout the week including heat in the high thirties which was similar to what we experienced at the Olympic Test Event in Marseille. It’s always a performance benefit for both the athletes and support staff to practice and execute the systems we’ll be delivering during the Games.”
Australia has achieved nine nation quotas from a possible ten, and with only Breiana Whitehead selected to the team so far, the other classes will focus on delivering the international baseline performances required for nomination to the 2024 Australian Olympic Sailing Team.
“Our athletes are aware of our internal nomination process and will be working diligently to perform at the designated events to earn the coveted Olympic nomination places within the Olympic Sailing Team.”
January will be busy for the Australian Sailing Team, with the ILCA 6 (Argentina), ILCA 7 (Adelaide) and iQFOiL (Lanzarote) World Championships all taking place. Everything will build towards the Palma and Hyeres regattas in April ahead of the Paris Olympics where the sailing competition will commence on July 28.
All results here.