Dear Australian Sailing Team,
You brought joy to so many through your achievements at Weymouth! You brought joy to thousands of sailors in Australia as we rode every wave and shift with you. We gathered around TV’s and jumped out of our seats cheering when you crossed the line. We had to think hard about where to go to watch it, as the free to air coverage was so poor. But connecting with mates with Foxtel brought us together “Tony, I know it’s 11pm, but I’m coming around!” There were parties in yacht clubs across the land.
Three golds and a silver! You brought joy to those of us who have been following the Olympics for a long time, knowing this was our most successful ever!
Tom, you broke the drought, just as Australia was beginning to despair. You dominated, although a talented Cypriot took it to you midway through the regatta. Like the champion you are you dug deep. It was a Grange moment for me seeing your freckled face and broad smile on TV and then plastered all over the papers. And reporters said we had won a gold from an unexpected quarter! Rubbish, they just didn’t know how good our yachties are!
Nath and Goobs, then it was your turn! The photos of you wearing the mask and snorkel is a keeper for life. You guys are irreverent and fun and bloody good! You showed them all how to sail a skiff, winning it before the medal race. And you kept everybody laughing.
Mat and Mal, all class and sportsmanship and so statesmanlike! No wonder they gave you the flag to carry, Mal! You two were under pressure from the Brits, but you had an unshakable confidence in your track record and your ability to deliver when you needed to. Well, why wouldn’t you, with the best 470 sailor the world has ever seen on the boat? Mat you brought joy to all of us when Rike joined you on the boat to celebrate, just before her own race!
Mal, you brought joy to crews everywhere! The fact that the only Australian sailor to ever win 2 golds, and the best 470 sailor ever is at the front of the boat told everyone that skipper/crew is 50/50 on a two person boat. I hereby nominate you for permanent president of the Crews’ Union!
Olivia, Nina and Lucinda, you were the bonus! Your racing was the best of all to watch, begging the question “Why was the match racing dropped?” Your boat handling skills and crew work were breathtaking. How can you be that good at 20? It just doesn’t seem fair! Your youthful enthusiasm and gung ho attitude may have ultimately cost you the gold, but it is what got you to the final in the first place, with such an amazing record of wins! Your racing was joyful!
Elise, Belinda, Krystal, Jessica and Brendan, you brought joy to all of us, as you were such integral parts of the team. You all showed flashes of brilliance too on the water, but you showed off the water how close knit you all are and how you support each other like no other team at Weymouth did. You rejoiced in the victories of your mates. And we loved it at home when Elise and Belinda won the last heat!
You coaches are just as big a part of the success of the team as the sailors. So a big well done to you Emmett, Michael, Euan, Daniel, John, Laura and Barbara. But unashamedly I’ll leave the best ‘til last. My favourite coach, in fact my favourite member of the whole sailing team is Victor. His unbridled joy when his team won the gold said it all. I defy anyone to talk to Victor and keep the smile of your face as he tells you what you might be; what you can be!
You brought joy to your support team, which has worked so hard to get you to where you are today. From Peter and Katie through Andrew, Donna, Clara, Rosie, Bruce, Michael, Mark, Craig, Megan, Stewart and Allan, every one of them worked their butts off and deserves the accolades too.
You brought joy to the guys at the top. I reckon Plymo started it all, but I know that Phil, David and Matt and many others along the way have done their bit too. And man, are they happy! I reckon Nick Green is pretty happy too! I know John Bertrand is!
You definitely brought joy to the Patrons. Those men and women of means who want nothing more than your success. So selfless, and yet so important in the whole scheme of things. Good on you Stephen, Guido, Marcus, John, Syd, David, Leslie, Martin and Lisa, Simon, Dame Elisabeth, Lachlan, Bob, Sandy, Nigel, Paul, Savvo, Lang and Nick. Thanks from all Australian yachties!
I know you brought joy to your Partners, Sponsors and Official Suppliers! Most of us have been there for the long haul and we couldn’t be happier for you. Perhaps we live vicariously through your efforts, but we love it as much as you do. During the Olympics even Laine my accountant became an expert on sailing. He has probably been on a boat five times in his life!
You brought joy to the Australian public, dragging the team by its hiking straps up the medal table. We would have looked bad without you, and I can tell you it was very special seeing the Aussie flag flying in celebration from your boats!
You brought joy to Aussie sailors all across the country. Here is our sport being seen as something to aspire to, as tough and competitive and athletic and ...... yes, something Australia is great at! I have already talked to numerous parents who are talking about perhaps signing their kids up for sailing lessons “How can we get into the sport?” We finally have more sailing heroes.
You brought some joy perhaps to an industry in dire need of some hope and encouragement. Those of us in the sailing industry who need a healthy market and a sensible exchange rate have never seen it tougher. We are hoping your successes will give the sailing industry the shot in the arm that it so needs. It certainly won’t hurt us, even if it just makes us feel good for a while about life in our industry!
The people you have brought the most joy to though are your friends and families, who supported you in droves at the Cove House Inn, but also through thick and thin as you made the sacrifices leading to where you all are today. And they are so proud of you. Frank Weir is always talking about his girl! They really do love you, you know!
Most importantly perhaps, you have brought joy to yourselves. No matter where you go in life you will never forget the time that the Aussie Sailing Team showed the rest of the world a clean transom. You guys are just the greatest!
Now good luck to our Para Olympic team. Daniel, Liesl, Colin, Stephen, Jonathan, Matt and your coaches Tim, Grant, Richard and Adrian. I know you will show us you are made of the same stuff!
Joy to the (Sailing) World, To all the Boys and Girls! Joy to the Yachties in the Deep Blue Sea, Joy to You and Me. (With apologies to Three Dog night!)
- Alistair Murray