Striking silver

Silver medals were the order of the day for Thomson, Burton and Paul at the 52 Trofeo Princesa Sofía Mallorca by Iberostar.

Photography by Beau Outteridge

10 April 2023


It was a breakthrough kind of day for Australian sailors in Palma on Sunday, with Zoe Thomson (ILCA 6) and Tom Burton OAM and Max Paul (49er) both claiming silver medals in personal best international performances that highlight their intentions for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The double points medal races never fail to provide excitement. Thomson got off the line in second place and held that until the end to finish three points ahead of Maxime Jonker (NED). The West Australian’s regatta result included a race win, as well as many other top ten results.

On the 49er course Burton and Paul finished the medal race in sixth, good enough to move them up from third to second and adding yet another single digit result in a string of great efforts in their 13-race campaign.


Fellow ‘skiffies’ Colley Shaun Connor were fourth in the 49er Medal Race to move up from ninth yesterday to finish in fifth position overall in this vibrant and enticing Olympic Class.

Matt Wearn OAM was third in the ILCA 7 Medal Race to finish in seventh place overall. This is solid news as the Tokyo Gold Medallist begins his run to Marseilles, after spending most of 2022 sidelined with illness.

A strong, 11-race campaign that saw a race win and the dreaded black flag marked against his scores will offer him plenty of areas to focus on for the rest of the busy season, which includes the Olympic Test Event from July 7 to 16.

Australian Sailing Technical Director, Michael Blackburn said of the team’s efforts in Palma, “Going into the regatta we were logically looking to Nacra 17 and ILCA 7 for medal performances, but Jason (Waterhouse) and Lisa (Darmanin), as well as Matt, were held up by some racing issues. Instead, we were very pleasantly surprised by results in the 49er and ILCA 6.

“Tom and Max scored an easy personal best in the 49er, and for TB (Burton) it’s more than vindication for his change to the 49er with this week’s demonstration that he still has that Laser-focus that won him Gold in Rio (2016). Zoe also scored a solid career personal best against a full-quality fleet, improving in starting and speed around the course. Zoe finished behind only the Netherland’s multi-Olympic medal winner, Marit Bouuwmeester.”

There can be no doubt that Burton wants to be the best ever who has converted from the Laser to the 49er.

He said once back ashore, “First medal race and first Euro medal. Both Max and I are pretty stoked that we held it together racing with the big boys at the front of the fleet. It’s a great motivator, and an awesome way to start the season.”

“Obviously the racing is always tight in this fleet. It’s easy to have some bad days and get stuck in silver. So making the most of the opportunity we gave ourselves was a high priority, and we delivered well today.”

Zoe Thomson was first to the weather mark today, but slipped one down on the first run back downhill.

This far from perturbed her, however. “I knew I had to come today and bring a good performance. It feels good. It has been a lot of hard work with the whole squad to start getting some results all together. It feels like a good validation of all that effort to be on the podium.”

Matt Wearn OAM is definitively the right stuff, and said after racing, “Actually quite disappointed with the end result.

“Felt like I sailed well all week, and just a couple of unfortunate errors with the BFD cost me greatly. It’s an ok result at the end of the day, but I didn’t come here to finish seventh. The upside is we have a lot we can work on going forward, and we aren’t too far from the top. Eyes are firmly set on Hyeres in a few weeks’ time.”

Shaun Connor commented, “After a tricky qualifying series and entering the finals in 24th place, we have progressively made our way up the field to go into the medal race in ninth. Jim and I are happy with our progression throughout the event, but felt we missed a few critical things to go on to improve in Hyeres.”

Wrapping up the regatta was Iain Brambell, the AST High Performance Director who said, “Our Aussie sailors delivered impressive performances. As a team we came into Palma to build on the hard work each squad dedicated throughout the Aussie summer.”

“There have been significant learnings in Palma that continue to build excitement and momentum throughout the entire team. We are positioned well at this point, especially as we head towards affirming Olympic qualification spots at the 2023 World Sailing Championships.”

Most of the squad will be heading off to race in Hyeres, France from 22 to 29 April.

Visit the event website for full results.

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