Australia’s reigning Youth World Champions in the 29er class, Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot, have announced they will forfeit their title defence to concentrate exclusively on pursuing a place on the Australian Sailing Team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Bryant and Wilmot said they had “mixed emotions” about withdrawing from the 2017 Youth Sailing World Championship in Sanya, China in December. However, qualifying for the next Olympic campaign sailing 49erFX skiffs demanded their singular focus.
“We aspired to compete again to attempt to defend our youth title in Sanya, but it’s become clear to us that our ultimate goal to represent Australia in Tokyo requires our total time and dedication,” the pair told Australian Sailing. “For the last three years we’ve aimed high and worked incredibly hard to qualify and represent Australia in the Youth Worlds. It was a goal that shaped every decision we made in our lives. Our Gold Medal, memories and friendships that were created will stay with us for a lifetime.”
Bryant and Wilmot proved the world’s best junior 29er sailors when they captured the World Championship in New Zealand last year with a race in hand.
Their departure from the junior ranks opens a place for Tasmanian pair Jasmin Galbraith and Chloe Fisher, who finished second to Bryant and Wilmot at the 2017 Australian Youth Championships. It also leads to mentoring changes, with Richard Scarr joining the Australian Youth Sailing Team as coach and Belinda Stowell-Brett as Team Leader.
“We are grateful for Australian Sailing’s understanding in this matter and would like to thank our parents, sponsors, supporters, friends, coaches, trainers and everyone else who has helped us along the way,” Bryant and Wilmot said.
“We look forward to sharing our greater challenge ahead with you all.”
– Australian Sailing