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Aussies embrace the work at Olympic Test Event

by John Curnow / Australian Sailing Team 11 Jul 2023 02:40 BST 9-16 July 2023
Zoe Thomson in the ILCA 6 at Marseille © Mark Lloyd / World Sailing

Hard work was the name of the game on day two of the Paris 2024 Olympic Test Event in Marseille, France.

A wonderful second place in the last race of the day by Western Australian pair Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas in the mixed 470 was categorically the highlight, moving them up to 11th overall and tantalisingly close the top ten finish required to qualify for the medal shootout.

The 11-knot Southerly was a little more predictable today for the Australian athletes on the racecourse, but still delivered enough challenges.

“It was very much a one-way racetrack today, with whoever could get to the left coming out on top,” said Jerwood after racing.

“In the first race we had to tack out from the pin end and go right for clear wind and we were punished for it quite severely.

“In the second race we made sure to have a good start from the pin and went left and it was much simpler from there. We know we are fast enough to be in the front, so tomorrow it's all about getting off the start and staying on the lift.”

Matt Wearn OAM is the reigning Olympic ILCA 7 champion, and one of the most focussed racers there is. A tenth place in the last race of the day has become his drop (disregarded result) for now, placing him in fifth overall. Wearn may appear laconic, but his steely approach is actually far more like titanium in strength and resilience.

“Classic ILCA racing today, very tight fleet on a short course made it even tougher,” said Wearn. “I didn't execute the simple things well enough, but overall I am sailing well. I just need to trust the process and go out and execute properly tomorrow.”

Zoe Thomson in the ILCA 6 now has a DSQ as her drop after losing a protest, meaning she’ll have to carry her results moving forward. Asked about her time in the Protest Room, Thomson said, “It was a tough day on the water and in the room, but really it’s all a part of the sport.

“There’s plenty for me to change going into tomorrow, I’m now focused on doing what I need to do to put together a good race and take each race as it comes.”

Breiana Whitehead got some racing in today after the abandoned session yesterday for the Women’s Formula Kite and finished in 11th place overall. Scott Whitehead climbed a couple of spots to be in 17th place in the Men’s Formula Kite. “It was good to get some races in, but a big delay on land, then five races made it a big day,” commented Breiana.

“We were on our big kites today. It was important to get off the line, unfortunately not something I was executing well today so I struggled a bit with catching up and a few tangles and near misses made my racing quite eventful.”

In closing, AST Technical Director, Michael Blackburn said, “A case of just some regular racing things going on, with some added importance because of the Olympic vibes. Zoe was in a protest and came out on the wrong side of it, but good lessons learned all around.”

Tomorrow is another big day for the team, with the Chef de Mission of the Australian Olympic Team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Anna Meares OAM, set to visit the team in Marseille ahead of the Chef de Mission Summit in Paris later this week.

Iain Brambell, AST High Performance Director, added that “Anna arrived in Marseille this evening, joining the team for dinner at the Team HUB (recovery house). She will be onsite at the venue all day tomorrow to watch the athletes.” The staggered start of the event means that several classes are yet to open their accounts, but that all changes soon enough with all classes in action tomorrow.

Visit the event website for full results.

Australian results at the Olympic Test Event:

ILCA 7 – 42 Entries 5th - Matt Wearn OAM – 1, 7, 5, (10) (13 points)

Mixed 470 – 17 Entries 11th - Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas – 7, (16), 16, 2 (25 points)

Women’s Formula Kite – 20 Entries 11th - Breiana Whitehead – 7, 10, 10, (16) (19 points)

ILCA 6 – 38 Entries 13th - Zoe Thomson – 11, 8, 13, (39 DSQ) (32points)

Men’s Formula Kite – 20 Entries 17th - Scott Whitehead – (20), 10, 12, 17, 16, 16 (71 points)

49er – 28 Entries Jim Colley and Shaun Connor – (0 points)

49erFX – 24 Entries Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine – (0 points)

Nacra 17 – 18 Entries Darren Bundock and Lisa Darmanin – (0 points)

Men’s iQFOiL – 22 Entries Grae Morris – (0 points)

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