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Barton Marine 2019 728x90

Video action of the Australian Sailing Team at Coffs Harbour

by John Curnow 10 Jul 00:52 BST
On board with AST Finn Coach, the Maharajah of Finns, none other than Rafael Trujillo, as the Humpbacks investigate the AST squad. © John Curnow

Joining the whales at Coffs Harbour recently has been the Australian Sailing Team. We went there when the Men’s Laser, 470 and Finn squads were training vigorously, and applying that strong work ethic they are so well known for.

Given the delay to the much-anticipated 2020 Tokyo Olympics to 2021, it also serves as a poignant reminder of just how well Australian sailors have done at the Olympics.

Of the 58 Olympic Gold Medals ever won by Australia since the Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 (N.B. All team sports counted as one BTW), 11 (19%) have been courtesy of sailing. Our sailors gathered their first Gold in 1964 in Tokyo, with the charismatic Dick Sargeant our only surviving member of the crew of the 5.5m, Barrenjoey. Incidentally, that vessel is now on display at Wharf 7, which is part of the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Importantly, we only started sending sailors to the Olympic Games in 1948 (London), and our first medals arrived in 1956. So Australian sailors have punched well above their weight in the medal tally. An overall 27 medals (to date) moves sailing into fifth position behind swimming, track and field, cycling, and then rowing, as the most successful Olympic sports. Note here, however, that it is sailing, along with rowing, that has provided the biggest bang for our buck since the Melbourne Games of 1956, and certainly over the last few decades.

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