Team Australia announced its first six sailors for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The 2012 Olympics was a huge success for team Australia, and by including three medalists in their first round of roster choices helps the team from Down Under along their path to winning more hardware in 2016.
In the 49er, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen were the obvious choice. After winning gold in Weymouth at the 2012 games, the pair joined Artemis Racing for their America’s Cup campaign. They’ve been balancing their AC duties with their Olympic commitment. Most recently, they won second overall in the World Championships in Argentina in November. In a statement released by the Australian Sailing Team, the pair said they’re biggest competition at Rio is set to be New Zealand’s Peter Burling and Blair Tuke who are the current World Champions. “I guess we’re in a very different spot than we were four years ago, we had only lost a couple of regattas in the four year cycle last time. At the moment we’re really struggling to take a regatta off the Kiwis so it’s a completely different place for us at the moment but we’re still trying to move forward and get that extra jump required to win,” Jensen said. It’s a safe bet that Rio will be another fierce matchup between these rivals.
Cousins Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse will be making their Olympic debut in Rio in the newest Olympic class, the Nacra 17. “Jason and I have been sailing together for so long, we know how each other operates which is becoming quite an advantage,” said Darmanin earlier this year. “We’re very different people, but our strengths and differences seem to match up perfectly…When the announcement came that [the Nacra] would be mixed in the Games, we knew we were meant to do it. The opportunity was there, and we were ready for the challenge at the right place at the right time.”
Finally, in the men’s 470, Matt Belcher will look to defend his 2012 gold with his new crew, Will Ryan. Ryan replaced Malcom page, who retired the most successful Australian Olympian with 2 gold medals after the London Games. Belcher and Ryan have won three world championships in a row, and finished on the podium at all of their major regattas, including the Aquece Rio Test Event, this year. “I think Rio 2016 is going be a really special place,” says Ryan in a team statement. “The culture is just so special and I think there’ll be a lot of energy. It’s obviously extremely special to make my first Olympic team. It is something that I have been working hard toward for a very long time, and hopefully satisfying for all the people who have helped me on my journey to this point so far.”
Adventures of a Sailor Girls’ Nic Douglass caught up with Waterhouse, Darmanin, and coach Victor Kovalenko after the announcement.