Setting sail for historic Games
4 June 2012
Australia will head out onto the seas of Weymouth with a star studded team determined to become Australia’s most successful sailing Olympians in history when competition kicks off at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The team was finalised today with the addition of Olympic gold medallists Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell (470), recent Hyeres World Cup winner Brendan Casey (Finn), Krystal Weir (Laser Radial) and the Women’s Match Racing team of Olivia Price, Nina Curtis and Lucinda Whitty.
The total sailing team now stands at 13 members, with selections already taken place for five-time Laser world champion Tom Slingsby, 49er world champions Nathan Outerridge and Iain Jensen, 470 world champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page and two time former world champion Jessica Crisp in the RS:X who will be competing at her fourth consecutive Olympic Games.
Beijing gold medallist Elise Rechichi will have the chance to defend her 470 title in London, after coming out of retirement and teaming up with Sydney 2000 gold medallist Belinda Stowell who also came out of retirement for another shot at Olympic glory.
“Defending gold for anyone is a huge task and a real challenge, there are no guarantees at an Olympics, second, third, fourth time around,” 26-year-old Rechichi said.
“Going into this Games I probably understand a bit better what it took to be successful in China but things have moved forward in the last four years and there is a different recipe for success now.
"I’ve had quite a different campaign, last time it was a long slog over four years and for London it’s been quite short and the reality is there’s a lot of pressure going back as defending champion and we’re taking it one step at a time.”
After just a few weeks together, Rechichi and Stowell placed ninth at the 2011 World Championships, qualifying Australia the 470 women’s spot for London and proving that despite their limited preparation they will be a force to be reckoned with in Weymouth.
All but one member of the now 13-strong sailing team, its youngest in 19-year-old Olivia Price, has at least one world championship to their name and all could bring home a medal as they look to eclipse Australia’s best sailing performance at a single Olympic Games - two gold, a silver and a bronze achieved in Sydney.
Bringing some youthful exuberance to the team, Price will skipper the Elliott 6m crew alongside Lucinda Whitty (22) and Nina Curtis (24). A new discipline for 2012, match racing is set to be one of the most exciting events of the Olympic regatta.
“Everyone has said it is a massive show so I’m really looking forward to the whole experience,” Price said.
“It’s going to be a good thing that we are in Weymouth [three hours south of London]. There are less distractions and it is slightly smaller and not as intense.”
The team has been campaigning all over the world and know that the last few months will be vital to a successful debut Olympics.
“We have built a strong base this year and we are excited to get back overseas and keep building on those results,” said Curtis, who alongside Whitty won the 2009 Match Racing World Championships.
Despite some early success in their careers, the girls know the status the Olympic Games has in world sport, in particular sailing.
“Ever since I was young I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics so it is really exciting. It is definitely going to be a lot of fun,” said Whitty.
“You just have to pinch yourself sometimes. It has been a whirlwind for the past couple of months and we’re really excited,” said Curtis.
All athletes are currently at the Olympic course in Weymouth where competition kicks off today in the Sail for Gold Regatta.