Silver trio become rivals

18 April 2013

SAILING: They competed side by side at the London Olympics, winning silver medals together as part of Australia's world-beating sailing team. 

But now Olivia Price and Nina Curtis suddenly find themselves rivals as they campaign for the 2016 Rio Games. 

And only one has the chance to qualify. 

Price, Curtis and their former crewmate Lucinda Whitty were a revelation at the 2012 Games - just missing out on the match racing gold medal when Price slipped from their boat during a finals showdown with Spain off Weymouth. 

But with match racing dumped from the Rio schedule, Price, 20, and Curtis, 25, have parted ways and begun sailing with new crewmates in the super-fast, highly technical 49erFX skiff. 

Each country can take just one boat in every class to Rio, setting the scene for three years of fierce competition as the two sailors battle to win Olympic selection. 

"In the next couple of years things will become a little bit more competitive, as they always do," Price told AAP as she prepared to launch her European season. 

"We do have quite a strong history together and I hope that stays intact for the next little while." 

Curtis only teamed up with Haylee Outteridge, sister of London Games 49er gold medallist Nathan, four weeks ago. 

And the Sydneysider, whose partner David Smith was part of Australia's gold medal-winning K4 kayak crew in London, said she's been too busy learning the new boat to think about the rivalry with Price. 

"Whether we are competing against each other or not is not the priority, it's actually about getting the boat around the course," she said. 

"Every day is a challenge and it's like learning to walk again. That's definitely the focus right now." 

Sydneysider Price has teamed up with former 4.7 Laser world champion Caitlin Elks, from WA. 

The two crews begin their Rio campaign at the Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth in June. 

Beijing sailing gold medallist Tessa Parkinson is also campaigning the 49erFX for Australia, with crewmate and fellow WA sailor Kate Lathouras. 

Those three crews should make Australia a formidable force in the new skiff class and give the nation another chance of repeating its London Games heroics, where it won three golds, one silver and topped the sailing medal table.