Australia Sailing Squad’s Ashley Stoddart (QLD) has secured Australia a spot in the women’s one-person dinghy, the Laser Radial, for the 2016 Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the 2015 Laser Radial World Championship in Al Mussanah, Oman (20-26 November 2015) over night.
This completes the Australian boat class contingent for Rio 2016 with Australia now having secured all nine out of the ten Olympic boat classes it was aiming to qualify.
Country qualification had already looked good for Ashley Stoddart going into the final day of races on Thursday (26 November) after she had finished the penultimate day in overall 18th and put in a points gap to other countries yet to qualify.
With 20 countries already qualified in the Laser Radial class at the 2014 ISAF World Sailing Championships in Santander last September, only four spots were available at these World Champs. Japan secured the first one, Australia the second while Turkey and Argentina secured the remaining two (pending ratification by ISAF).
Stoddart sailed a consistent regatta, which saw her qualify for the top-50 Gold fleet ranked 35th. In the final series she continuously moved up the ranks to go into the final race day ranked 18th.
On a challenging last day dominated by general recalls, a strong sixth place in the one and only final race of the regatta saw the 22-year old Queenslander jump up the scoreboard and finish the event in overall 11th.
Light, shifty conditions and fleets eager to start resulted in a succession of general recalls in both Gold and Silver fleets. The Gold fleet managed just one race before the 15:00 time limit and Silver was unable to start at all.
“Today was quite stressful we had many black flag general recalls and the wind was light, shifty and very patchy. I kept just focussing on what I could do at each moment that was immediately ahead of myself and what I could control. I sailed a really clean race and just stayed on lifts and in the pressure as much as possible,” Ashley Stoddart said.
“I'm so thrilled about the country qualification. This venue is a tricky one and I'm glad to have sailed a good week and come away with a result that I deserve. Jared (Jared West, coach) and I have been working hard together throughout the year and it's nice to walk away from the worlds with this result.“
“I had a really disappointing result in Santander (2014 World Champs), but to come back stronger and build throughout the year is very satisfying. Thanks to everyone who never gave up on me and I look forward to continuing the journey and working hard towards Rio next year.”
Ashley Stoddart is coached by former Australian Laser sailor Jared West (QLD) and will compete at the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Melbourne (9-13 December) next.
Former Australian Sailing Team member and Olympian Krystal Weir (VIC) finished the event in Silver fleet and overall 64th.
Australia has now secured a spot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the Men’s and Women’s 470, Laser, 49er, 49er FX, Nacra 17, Finn, Women’s RS:X as well as Laser Radial. The men’s RS:X is the only boat class Australia did not expect to qualify.
– Cora Zillich