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Sailing Wrap: The future is looking bright for Australia’s sailors.

21 August 2016

SAILING: With eight rookies in our team of 11 sailors at the Rio Olympics, the future is looking bright for sailing in Australia.

The sailors finished competition on Thursday (Rio time), and bagged a mighty gold medal, along with three silvers.

Leading the way for Australia was laser sailor Tom Burton who kicked off the final week of competition with a gold medal.

Burton needed to sail the race of his life to pull off the win over the Croatian sailor, and that he did!

Clever pre-race manoeuvring by Burton pushed the Croatian to the back of the fleet, then he displayed superior boat speed and shrewd decision-making to propel himself up the fleet, crossing the finish line in the medal race in third place.

Then followed a nervous wait until the Croatian finished the medal race in ninth place. This was enough to secure the gold for the Aussie!

Spurred on by Burton’s success, Sydney cousins Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin took to the water shortly afterwards for their medal race in the Nacra 17.

The cousins went into the medal race in fourth overall having led after 10 of the 12 fleet races.

Another stellar medal race performance saw them cross the finish line in second place, securing the silver medal, agonisingly only one point behind the eventual gold medallists from Argentina who passed a competitor just before the finishing line to secure the gold.

With the rookies showing the way, it was time for the experienced hands to step forward.

London 2012 gold medallist, Mat Belcher, paired up with first-time Olympian, Will Ryan, went into their 470 medal race in third place, just behind the Greeks.

A close battle with the Greeks in the second half of the race ensued, and it came down to the final leg, where the Aussies superior downwind technique and tactics won out and they secured the silver.

Fellow London 2012 gold medallists, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen also had a battle on their hands in the medal race.

With the Kiwi team wrapping up the gold ahead of the medal race, the Aussies went into the medal race in third place, and had to perform to hang onto a medal. A fourth placing in the medal race saw the Aussies move up into the silver medal position ahead of the team from Germany.

Four other Olympic rookies in the sailing team also performed exceptionally well.

Queenslander Jake Lilley who had worked his way up to third place during the regatta, had a tough final day of the preliminary series, just scraping through to the medal race.

Lilley finished an admirable fifth place in the final race, and had a final overall result of eighth.

Fellow Queenslander Ashley Stoddart had a strong finish to her Olympic regatta, finishing her medal race in third place, which gave her an overall placing of ninth; and the 470 women’s pair of Carrie Smith and Jaime Ryan had a final overall result of 15th.

With the Aussies medalling in four of their seven events, and seven of the 11 athletes taking home an Olympic medal, it was a strong showing from the sailing team.

Many of the new faces in the team are now looking to Tokyo as an opportunity to build on their Olympic experience. 

Megan McKay

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