Aussies begin the assault at Olympic Test Event

A gentle yet challenging Sou’east breeze greeted the first of the Australian athletes taking to the Marseille racecourse at the Paris 2024 Olympic Test Event.

Some of the crews have a few more days to wait before their racing commences, but the ILCA 6, ILCA 7, Mixed 470, along with the Men’s Formula Kite all secured their first points.

Olympic ILCA 7 champion Matt Wearn came out firing, securing a bullet (race win) in the first of the two races conducted and closed out his account for the day in third place overall. Zoe Thomson lies in sixth place in the ILCA 6, the Mixed 470 crew are in 14th place of their fleet, with Scott Whitehead in 19th place in the Men’s Formula Kite.

AST Technical Director, Michael Blackburn said, “It was pretty good as far as day ones go. The warm and shifty offshore breeze was a challenge, but nothing that good management of shifts and pressure couldn’t handle.

“It’s just good to get racing, as it builds our understanding of the venue and what’s needed to succeed next year.”

Nia Jerwood said after she and Conor Nicholas completed two races in the Mixed 470, “Today we had quite variable conditions of 5-9 knots. Conor and I felt we had good pace today both upwind and downwind.

“We had a solid first race coming away with a 7th. In the second race we were doing quite well but made a few too many errors in the last half of the race. It was a hot day out on the water, so this evening we have made good use of the ice bath and swimming pool.”

There was no racing for the Women’s Formula Kite, the wind going light on their course which was in the lee of a hill around the racetrack.

Australia’s representative in the class, Breiana Whitehead, was able to take the delays in her stride. Is there a magic formula that she has?

“I don’t think I have a secret; it just comes down to the process and habits that I have built. I have high standards for myself whether it’s training or racing.

“To get to this point hasn’t been easy, but I think I’m incredibly lucky to be racing on the other side of the world in a sport that I love and most of the world hasn’t got the chance to see yet. For me being a new class is exciting. Our racing has a lot happening and is exciting to watch, I can’t wait for the world to be hooked on the racing as much as I am.”

Young Evie Haseldine has only had just the one year of competition at the top level in the 49erFX Women’s skiff she sails on with her Skipper Olivia Price. They will kick off their campaign tomorrow, but said of the express journey, “I’ve always known I wanted to compete at an Olympic Games. This Test Event is an opportunity to practice in the environment, so that next year we have more than just a chance of competing, but a chance of winning.

“It’s crazy to think how for so long I have dreamt of being on this path, so now I’m here I don’t want to waste it.”

Already a two-time Olympian, Lisa Darmanin is no stranger to the build-up, and commented, “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to be here for the test event for the third time. We have a promising and motivated team working towards Paris, and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it.

“It’s going to be tough diving into racing with the new combination with Bundy (Darren Bundock. also a two-time Olympian) after just a few weeks training, but I’m looking forward to getting out on Olympic waters to see what we can do.”

The action builds from here and concludes on July 16.

Visit the event website for full results.

Australian results at the Olympic Test Event:

ILCA 7 – 42 Entries

3rd – Matt Wearn OAM (AST) – 1, 7 (8 points)

ILCA 6 – 38 Entries

6th – Zoe Thomson (AST) – 11, 8 (19 points)

Mixed 470 – 17 Entries

14th – Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas (ASS) – 7, 16 (23 points)

Men’s Formula Kite – 20 Entries

19th – Scott Whitehead (ASS) – 20 (20 points)

49er – 28 Entries

Jim Colley and Shaun Connor (AST) – (0 points)

49erFX – 24 Entries

Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine (ASS) – (0 points)

Nacra 17 – 18 Entries

Darren Bundock and Lisa Darmanin (AST) – (0 points)

Women’s Formula Kite – 20 Entries

Breiana Whitehead (AST) – (0 points)

Men’s iQFOiL – 22 Entries

Grae Morris (ASS) – (0 points)

Words by John Curnow.

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