The outcomes from Enoshima Olympic Week will have a significant impact on the way Australian Sailing approaches the rest of the Olympiad, Finn sailor Jake Lilley believes.
Many of the world’s top Olympic class sailors will compete at the Tokyo 2020 sailing venue at Enoshima from Friday, including Australia’s powerful Laser squad, rising 470 duo Nia Jerwood and Monique de Vries, and Finn sailors Lilley and Oli Tweddell.
“Being at the Olympic venue, it’s really good to spend time here on the water and figure out what the wind and the waves are like,” Rio Olympian Lilley said. “It’s important to do that sort of thing now, nice and early, because it’ll have implications for how we plan the rest of the quad, in terms of what equipment we look at, how we try and prepare. It’s good to learn about that sort of thing.
“For me, it’s really exciting because I’ve never sailed here before. I didn’t get to Rio until a year before the Games and now we’re in Japan already, three years out. I’m super excited to spend a lot of time here.”
The Laser men, including reigning Olympic Champion Tom Burton, and the women’s 470 pair came directly from the World Cup Series opener at Gamagori, 275 kilometres away, where Burton claimed the Bronze medal and men’s 470 pair Mat Belcher and Will Ryan won Gold. Throughout that time the Finn squad was in training for Olympic Week.
“There aren’t a lot of boats entered for Olympic Week, but it’s a really high quality field [in the Finns],” Lilley said. “Sir Giles [Scott] is back and he hasn’t raced since he won in Rio. The current world champion’s here, the guy that finished third at the worlds, so the top end guys are here.
“It’s what you’d expect, to have those top sailors at the Olympic venue ahead of time. There might not be heaps of competitors, but it’s going to be a real battle to see who’s not going to come last! Everyone’s so good.”
Lilley returns to Olympic class sailing after pursuing an opportunity with Team Artemis at the America’s Cup. While he gained plenty of sailing knowledge, he’s not sure how it will translate to his immediate form.
“It’s not so straightforward. You take a year away from Finn sailing and there’s stuff you lose,” he said. “Being part of the America’s Cup increased my knowledge, skills and understanding of the sport, but it also is a bit of short term loss for a long term gain. It doesn’t translate immediately into the positive result, as opposed to those who’ve kept their nose to the grindstone straight from the Games. But I think long term it will start to pay dividends and we’ll start to see the beginning of that this month and over the summer leading into next European season.”