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by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 8 Dec 2019 21:00 GMT
Jade Cole and Ian 'Barney' Walker announce their campaign to represent Australia at the 2024 Olympics © Lachy Keevers

It wasn't too long after driving the first of Beneteau's impressive Figaro 3s a couple of years ago that these miscellaneous ramblings started to look at the Mixed Two Person Offshore Event for the Olympics. It was on, it was off, it was on again, and then it finally got ratified.

More recently, we have spent more and more time looking at the nature of the event, how it pertains to the all-important media circus, and also allows for a much wider athlete pool to chase that very special dream. During all of that time, short-handed racing has continued its rise and rise.

Given the two main aspects of the event, being mixed and offshore, you would have to think that countries like France, the UK, Germany, the USA, and New Zealand would be ones to watch out for. All of which means it is going to be pretty hard to be part of the venerable three tier dais in 2024.

Naturally, Australia is also very much part of that equation. Now I suppose it was no surprise, but to have two friends, people I know well, be the first to announce their campaign for Team AUS is just awesome. Ian 'Barney' Walker and Jade Cole are very clear on their goal, and it is of a very specific colour.

Before all of that there is a lot to do, like the World Championships in Malta next year, and then the 2020 Sydney to Hobart Race later on in the same year, where there will be a two-handed class on offer for the very first time. They have a training vessel, and of course, World Sailing is supplying equipment to qualified nations.

So just as the Sandringham Yacht Club sailors are focussed on the end prize, they are just as clear on being the first Australians to nominate. Barnyard (as Walker is often referred to as) and Cole already have quite the collective CV. Walker has three Whitbread/Volvo races to his credit, 34 Sydney to Hobart Races which places him in quite the special club, a pair of America's Cup campaigns and earlier Olympic aspirations in both the Star and the Soling.

Cole is a former Australian Champion in the Melges 24, has competed in other events like Farr40 Worlds, and already has eight Sydney Hobart Races to her name, including last year's all female entry on Wild Oats X that Stacey Jackson spearheaded. So it is offshore racing where both feel totally at home, and where they have significant experience.

At four days and three nights, the Olympics have never before seen an event like this, and the aim of course, is to show that off to the world at large. Four years to go may seem like a long time, but the job list is many pages long, and they only ever hand out just the one medal in that special colour.

The great Alistair Murray AM said of it all, "I was thrilled to be approached by Jade Cole recently with the news that she and team mate, Ian 'Barney' Walker are commencing a campaign together to represent Australia at the 2024 Olympic Games in the new discipline."

"I know Jade well, as she spent a few years at Ronstan, so I can attest to her dedication, work ethic, and commitment to all things sailing. She has also recently shown the depth of her determination and skill through competing at the highest level in a variety of classes, with her accolades including being awarded the 2019 Keelboat Sailor of the Year at Sandringham Yacht Club, the Victorian Offshore Sailor of the Year, and being nominated for the Australian Sailing Offshore Sailor of the Year."

"Of course Barney is no stranger to sailing too! He is quite simply one of Australia's most successful and experienced one-design and offshore sailors. Jade and Barney are among the first I know of to 'put their hands up' to say they are chasing Australia's Olympic spot in this very exciting new discipline, in which there will be an enormous level of worldwide interest. I am proud of them as Victorians, Australians and friends, and I believe they have what it takes to succeed."

"I have offered them my personal support in an informal advisory capacity, as I would love to see them achieve their dream and bring home a medal."

Speaking of Olympics

Australian Sailing’s Director of High Performance, Iain Murray, commented on the just concluded 49er and Nacra World Championships, “It was a windy day, which put the testers out. Mainly an awkward chop, rather than going up range too much. As the day went on it made about 20 knots. We saw the challenge with Pete Burling and Blair Tuke, and even our own Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin who collected Bronze in the Nacra 17, but certainly could have taken it out.”

“It was a bad half of the regatta for the Outteridges, with starts, knotted halyards, and settings all making for a savage learning curve. It is certainly not over yet, and either crew could win in Geelong, so stay tuned on that one.”

“In the skiffs they all had good results, and also some not anywhere near that. It all comes done to getting away well off the line and keeping out of trouble. All of the crews definitely showed pace during the regatta. It is encouraging with our female crews, and it was great to see Amelia Stabback and Caitlin Elks win the Silver Fleet with a 30 point buffer.”

Talking about announcements - SailGP

So the second season of the entertaining SailGP gets under way in Sydney before we know it. The new, seventh boat has left the factory in New Zealand, so you would think that the revealing of just who is going to be 'Team Seven' must be just days way. Initially it was thought that the country of the builder would be showing off a black boat with a silver fern.

Yet speculation now seems to be centering on either the Netherlands or Denmark, as both The Hague (NDL) and Aarhus (DEN) are both keen to expand their event calendars. It also seems to fit well, as the timings and venues for the second half of the 2020 season have not yet been announced. It also seems likely that in 2021 both China and Japan will also be added in to the calendar, which will be simply terrific. Watch this space...

Hobart bound?

So if you restart at Tasman, and then again at the Iron Pot, Storm Bay and the River Derwent offer some tricky ocean currents and tides to deal with in addition to famous shutting of the gate after about 2100hrs. Tidetech has been studying the regime of surface currents in South East Tasmania, and have written an n-depth article to share with you. It provides insight on what factors affect the currents and where to find information about them. Essential reading me thinks...

Record Makers!

Lisa Blair, an instructor at Terry Wise's Pacific Sailing School, is once again heading off on a new adventure. Going two-handed in the 47 year-old Westcoaster that starts on December 27 is often used as a warm-up for the 5500nm Melbourne to Osaka race. As such, there is not a huge roster of duo crews that have taken on 'Nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide.' And there is just a mere handful that have mastered the Devil's Race as mixed crews, with Rosie Colahan, Robyn Brooke and Alex McKinnon the nucleus of that select little group.

Already in the record books for her magnificent efforts, Lisa is teaming with Jackie Parry to become the first ever all female two-handers to go looking for Maatsuyker Island, and surf along the bottom of Tasmania in the swells of the Roaring Forties. (This was the late Gary Clapham's favourite pastime BTW.) Indeed forty on the schnoz could be what you see a lot of, as it is cold, wet, often greyed in (or is that greyed out?), as you leap off waves and wait for the crash at the bottom.

Lisa is one of the educators at Pacific Sailing School who can still get people qualified in the final of Sea Survival and Safety Courses for the year, and you can check that out here. "Pacific Sailing School has always encouraged and supported women in sailing, so it is great that they are providing such valuable assistance with our history-making effort," said Blair.

"Terry (Wise) was the first sailing school to offer me work when I made the move to Sydney all those years ago, and has continued to support my sailing and crazy adventures over the years. Together we have trained many women in sailing."

So if you need to get qualified, or want to take your crew percentage past the mandatory requirements for any of the Christmas races, even just for good old common sense, then there are just a couple of places left.

Right oh - here today there are some gems for you to review like Globe 40, the 18s, Stars, 49ers and Nacras, Brest Atlantique, the Clipper, intel from North Sails, IMOCAs. Sydney to Hobart, Finns, Spindrfit 2 abandons, and certainly there is much, much more below.

Now if your class or association is generating material, we can help you spread your word just by emailing us. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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