Written by John Curnow
Photography by Sailing Energy
18 July 2023
Matt Wearn OAM secured Gold in the Men’s ILCA 7 dinghy at the Paris 2024 Olympic Test Event in Marseille.
An emphatic win in the crucial, double points medal race had Matt Wearn seven points clear of his nearest rival in this highly competitive class.
Earlier in the week, Wearn commented that he would leave any smile until the end, and such was the case both immediately after the win and then back ashore where a jubilant crowd met him.
Wearn said, “It feels great. It has been a while since I stepped on to the top step of the podium so it’s nice to get it done here.
“Obviously, a great confidence boost for 12-months’ time, as well. It’s first win with Rafa (new coach Rafael Trujillo Villar) too, so I think for the both of us it cements the work we have been doing together.”
Australian Sailing Team (AST) Technical Director, Michael Blackburn added, “We’re very pleased for Wearny, as it puts him back on top, effectively putting an end to a long period that was disrupted by COVID effects. However, he still has some work to do in some specific areas to fully round out his performance.”
Grae Morris had a massive six-race day and now sits in third place overall entering the Medal Series.
“We had a super gusty and shifty 11 to 25 knots from offshore,” said Morris. “I had some good scores and kept it consistent to take me straight in the semi-finals to the medal race series.”
AST iQFOiL Coach, Arthur Brett, has been pleased with Morris’ steady progress.
“Grae was solid once again. The breeze was different to the other days. He had a couple of spills mixed in with another race win and a second place. It is invaluable for Grae to be building his experience in this.”
In the semi-finals Grae and the second ranked Italian rider (Nicoló Renna) will compete against the top two athletes from the quarter-final (make up of athletes ranked 4th to 10th). The top two of the four rider from the semi-finals will advance to the Final, where the top ranked rider (Nicolas Goyard from France) awaits to compete for the medals.
Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine have qualified for the 49erFX medal race by finishing in tenth place today.
Price, who is very driven, commented back ashore, “We’re happy to have made the medal race here, and have another opportunity to race in the unique style of competition, but I can say it’s not the way we would have liked to do it today.”
“We had some issues with breakages throughout the day, and we didn’t hit our execution points for nailing our starts well enough, so we felt the pain of today a little more because of it.”
“Going into tomorrow, we will be keeping our eyes out with lighter conditions expected and put our start plan into practice.”
Jim Colley and Shaun Connor in Men’s 49er skiff gave it their all as they had indicated yesterday, and put themselves into the medal race by finishing in ninth place overall.
Coach Brady Lowe said, “It has been a very high scoring regatta, and consistency has been a struggle for many of the boats in the fleet. Jim and Shaun have been working on executing better starts and early parts of the beats (windward work to the weather mark), maybe starting a little too conservative early in the event.”
“So today it was good to put together two good races to get into their fourth international medal race for the year.”
The Mixed 470 crew of Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas have had a breakout regatta here in Marseille after finishing the Medal Race in sixth place. A very proud and excited Jerwood said, “This week was a personal best for us as a team. To be in the medal race in podium contention was a great feeling. We still have a lot to refine, and we are energised to keep working.”
“Overall, our improvement and trajectory this year is something we can be really proud of. We are so lucky to have an amazing team here on the ground and back at home, thank you everyone that has helped us this year.”
Lisa Darmanin and Darren Bundock in the Mixed Nacra 17 completed their regatta in 16th place.
Darmanin said, “It was tougher than I thought jumping in with a new helm. There is so much in just making the boat go fast, and then you add race comms and strategy into that, so it’s been a huge learning curve.
“Bundy has been great. I’ve really thrown him into the deep end, and of course I miss having Jas (Jason Waterhouse) around and that intuition we had as a team.”
Importantly for Australia and this class as a whole, the Italians did not have it all their own way in Marseille.
Darmanin added, “It’s great to see Finland up there at the top. They’ve been sailing so well since the post-Tokyo upgrade.”
Racing concludes 17 July with the all-important, double points medal races for the Men’s and Women’s skiffs, as well as the Men’s Windsurfer.
Stronger than anticipated East Sou’eaterlies greeted the crews today, and it is expected to blow from the same direction tomorrow, but without the same virulence and will be about 30 degrees celsius.
Visit the event website for full results.
ILCA 7 – 42 Entries
1st – Matt Wearn OAM – 1, 7, 5, (10), 5, 2, 3, 1, 6, (43 RET), 2 (42 points)
Men’s iQFOiL – 22 Entries
3rd – Grae Morris – 9, 3, (24), (10), 3, 4, 1, 2, 7, 2, 4, 3, 8, 5, 1, 9, 2, (13) (67 points)
Mixed 470 – 17 Entries
6th – Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas – 7, (16), 16, 2, 3, 4, 4, 3, 3, 11, 12 (65 points)
49er – 28 Entries
9th – Jim Colley and Shaun Connor – 16, 15, 4, 7, (17), 12, 15, 2, 7, 17, 4 (110 points)
49erFX – 24 Entries
10th – Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine – 2, (19), 8, 12, 14, 13, 11, 4, 7, 17, 7, 19 (114 points)
Women’s Formula Kite – 20 Entries
11th – Breiana Whitehead – 7, 10, 10, (16), 12, 12, 8, 13, (21 DNF), 9, (21 DNF), 5, 9, 7, 12, 7 (121 points)
Nacra 17 – 18 Entries
16th – Darren Bundock and Lisa Darmanin – 17, (19 UFD), 11, 11, 14, 16, 19 BFD, 14, 16, 14, 12, 11 (155 points)
Men’s Formula Kite – 20 Entries
17th – Scott Whitehead – (20), 10, 12, (17), (16), 15, 16, 16, 15, 9, 11, (21 DNF), 14, 13, 13, 9 (169 points)
ILCA 6 – 38 Entries
20th – Zoe Thomson – 11, 8, 13, (39 DSQ), 39 BFD, 10, 24, 9, 28, 23 (165 points)