Tessa Parkinson & Elise Rechichi (470 women) at the Qingdao International Regatta
Profile on the Australian 470 Womens Team, Elise Rechichi and Tessa Parkinson. The team is coached by Victor Kovalenko.
Women’s Two-Person Dinghy - 470
COACH - Victor Kovalenko
CLUB - Royal Perth YC, Fremantle Sailing Club, Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club
Initially, the West Australian looked like having a future in gymnastics, but her parents especially her dad who is a sailor, weren’t so enthusiastic. She didn’t like sailing at first, 'I was seven and my Dad made me sail in an Optimist. I hated it. Because I was so small, I was frightened that I would float down the Swan River and nobody would find me.'
Elise went on to represent at the 1995 Optimist States and then the 1996 Nationals, at which she was top placed girl and finished top three overall, earning her a trip in 1997 to race in Japan. 'It was the first time I went overseas and I loved it – I was only
11, so that was what gave me the initial motivation to really work hard.'
Representing at the 2002 Youth Words in the 29er skiff, Elise finished second, missing Gold by one point. A switch to the 420 in 2003 provided a Gold medal at the Youth Worlds and she was on her way to the top. Tessa Parkinson joined Elise as crew just three months prior to the 2004 420 World Championships. They won both Open and Youth
titles in the Women’s – on her 18th birthday.
Why are the Olympics important to Elise?
'There are so many different ways to be successful but sport is at the heart of Australia’s culture, so to be at the top and to represent your country at the Olympics is such a unique achievement.'
Amusing sporting episode: When I was young I always cried when I came in from sailing and one day when I was about 8, my parents asked me what was wrong. I explained I
was crying because I didn’t know where the marks where on the course and I had gotten ahead in the race and didn’t know where to go and got lost. I asked Dad to tell me where the marks were and what the names of the marks were. But he told my not to worry about it because it was a fluke I’d gotten ahead of the boys and next time I could just follow
everyone else. But the next weekend the same thing happened – I got out ahead of everyone and had no idea where I was going. I was so tiny that nobody believed I could beat the boys! Needless to say, Dad told me where the marks were after that.
Started sailing: At age 7 and racing aged 8 in an Optimist
First international event: Tamastukuri International regatta in Japan in Optimists
when I was just 11 and travelled there myself
First event won: 1997 Australian Optimist National Championships – 1st Women
Best Sporting Achievement: Bronze at the 2008 470 Women’s World
Championships & 2007 Olympic Test Event Gold
Sporting Relatives: Richard Evans, International Cricket Test Umpire.
Before I compete I always: I take a few deep breaths and I don’t talk much.
Superstitions: Bananas are very bad luck on boats – I hate it when Tess brings bananas!
Apart from sailing I relax by: Shopping, cooking, reading the papers and sleeping. I love fashion and beautiful fabrics. I love great food and one of the best things about travelling is being exposed to such a wide variety of food, which gives me ideas for the kitchen at home.
I admire: People who work actively in human rights, who try to seek change where there is injustice and oppression. I also admire people who use their fame constructively and as a catalyst to try to bring about change.
One thing people don’t know about me:
Awards: 2005 Young Australian Team of the Year – Australian
2004 Western Australian Team of the Year
2004 Western Australian Junior Sport Star of the Year
2008 Australian Female Sailor of the Year
Ambitions: To win a medal at the Olympics, to be an airline pilot… and be happy!
Personal motto: Over and above any sporting or career ambitions, I want to be a happy and good person and to make other people smile.
2008 470 European Championship ITA 3rd
2008 470 Holland Regatta NED 9th
2008 470 Women’s World Championship AUS 1st
2007 470 Olympic Test Event CHN 1st
2007 470 Women’s European Championship GRE 3rd
2007 470 Kiel Week GER 2nd
2006 470 470 World Championship China 13th
2006 470 470 European Championship Hungary 6th
2006 470 ISAF World Sailing Games Austria 2nd
2006 470 Kiel Week Germany 1st
2005 470 Kiel Week Germany 1st
2005 470 Holland Regatta Netherlands 1st
2005 470 Holland Regatta Netherlands 2nd
2005 Award Young Australian Team of the Year Australia 1st
2004 420 ISAF Youth World Championship 1st
2003 420 ISAF Youth World Championship 1st
2002 29er ISAF Youth World Championship 2nd
COACH - Victor Kovalenko
CLUB - Fremantle Sailing Club
With family and friends all involved in sailing, eight year-old Tessa and her younger brother Luke started sailing Mirror dinghies at Fremantle Sailing Club.
At 21 years of age, Tessa is the youngest member of the Australian Sailing Team. She and skipper Elise Rechichi (22) are best friends and spend a lot of time together, even when not competing and travelling overseas to regattas. After 3 ½ years together they have won gold at the ISAF Youth and 420 World Championships, 470 Junior
Championships and in 2008 were awarded as Yachting Australia's Female Sailors of the Year.
Finishing school with good marks, Tessa enrolled in a Physiotherapy Degree at Curtin University but has deferred due to her Olympic campaign. She still intends to go back and finish after the Olympic Games.
'Winning a medal would be an honour. It would be confirmation that we are the best in the world and that everything we have done has paid off.'
Started sailing: At age 8 in a Mirror.
First event competed in: Mirror State Championships age 11.
First event won: ISAF Youth Worlds.
Superstitions: No bananas and never wear the regatta shirt until the competition is over.
Amusing sporting episode: The first time Elise and I sailed a 29er was in San Francisco in about 30 knots of wind. We were out of control and managed to wipe the transom completely off another 29er who was even more out of control than us. We then tried to keep racing with Elise trying to steer with no tiller extension.
Before I compete I always: Make sure I don't get involved in the stress of the boat park. Elise and I try to keep to ourselves and do everything to our usual rhythm.
Apart from sailing, I relax by: Spending time with my friends and family, reading, going to the beach, shopping, yoga.
I wish I could: Help the less fortunate people in the world
I admire: Australian Laser sailor Michael Blackburn, for being such a good competitor and sportsman.
Most influential person in my career: My coach Victor Kovalenko because he has taught
me so much about ever aspect of the sport – from tuning a 470 to developing your character to win.
Best Sporting Achievement: 2008 470 Women's World Championship Bronze &
Gold in the Olympic Sailing Test Event Qingdao 2007.
Other sporting interests: I enjoy pilates, yoga and running. I enjoy watching tennis, gymnastics, diving and swimming.
The toughest thing about competitive sailing is: Overcoming any challenge that's thrown at you and remaining focused.
My training and preparation includes: 5 on water sessions, 3 yoga sessions and 2 cardio
sessions. Plus organising travel and competition logistics.
Awards: Young Australian Team of the Year 2004
Australian Female Sailor of the Year 2008
Ambitions: To win a gold medal at the Olympic Games.
Personal motto: Always give things your best go and if it means that
much to you, don't give up!
2008 470 470 European Championship ITA 3rd
2008 470 Holland Regatta NED 9th
2008 470 470 Women’s World Championship AUS