Queensland Finn sailor Brendan Casey is heading to London 2012 after winning the French World Sailing Cup Finn class event in Hyeres on the weekend.
Brendan Casey after receiving his gold medal - Semaine Olympique Francaise 2012
Now in Weymouth, 35 year old Casey is preparing for the Finn World Championship, the Finn Gold Cup, which start in Falmouth UK on May 13th ahead of Sail for Gold in Weymouth. Casey has more fitness camps at the Australian Institute of Sport scheduled then its back to Weymouth for more training and then the Olympics.
The Finn event has become even more physical in recent years. One of the things noticed by sailing commentators over the last two years is that the obviously talented Casey often started regattas well and then faded. The general feeling was Casey was less fit than his rivals.
However things are different now. In Hyeres Casey won the last race in the series then the Medal Race.
Yesterday Sail-World.com talked to Brendan.
‘While I started in the Laser, I just kept growing. At 6ft 3' my body size and shape are ideally suited to the Finn Class.
‘Finn sailors are very physical guys now. We have to row and to pump and rock and roll downwind.
‘I am 35 but I am physically very fit, the fittest I have ever been. I have worked in close consultation with Craig Colduck, the strength and conditioning Coach from the Queensland Academy of Sport Sailing programme and we have input from physiologist Hamilton Lee at the AIS.
‘Winning those last two races in Hyeres was fantastic. We had the traditional Mistral breeze, which is like a very strong offshore breeze, and then we had some onshore breeze that brought in some bigger waves and that’s more like what we get in Weymouth, so it was good.
‘I am continually trying to improve in the Finn rig because I really haven’t sailed the boat that long compared to others in the class. I’ve been back in the class for two years. Last year I had another ankle injury but I am now completely recovered and I’ve added seven kilos of muscle, so I feel I am peaking at the right time.
‘It’s been a long road but to win Olympic selection is amazing!
‘I had some good early successes in the Laser class and I started on the Olympic selection trail leading up to Sydney 2000. In Sydney I was a young pup and I guess Michael Blackburn was always in front. Leading up to Athens I got injured, rolled my ankle sailing in Hyeres. Michael won again.
‘Then I switched to the Finn but Anthony Nossiter beat me for Beijing. I stopped racing and spent time in India but came back hard in 2010. So this is number four and Olympic selection at last.
‘I am joining a very successful programme with Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49er, Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page in the 470 and Tom Slingsby in the Laser. It is great to be joining those guys.’
While Ben Ainslie is the favourite for the Finn event in London 2012 Casey believes the pack is closing.
Brendan again. ‘Ben is in great form and Ben is very thorough in his preparation. I don’t believe it is just a fight for silver and bronze. I guess the rest of the world, including myself, is improving.
‘The American Finn coach John Bertrand started with me in early 2011 and I am making good progress. For me personally with my team, we have learnt a lot this year. We have our own sail designer as well now.
‘We are doing everything we can at our end to be fully prepared, to close the gaps. We can experiment and work on things to aid my performance, drawing on a very successful Australian Sailing Team, put what we have in place and go with it.
‘Since my World Cup win I have had a flood of emails, text messages and phone calls and Facebook messages from friends, supporters and family in Australia.
‘I would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement, not only for the win but for the years getting to this point.
‘I am backed by the Australian Sailing Team and all the support staff and everyone behind the scenes, who make things possible. The Australian Sports Commission, the AIS and a long list of influential patrons who back us personally; Audi, Hamilton Island and all the sponsors. There’s a long list of people who have contributed towards my success so far.
‘Now it’s up to me!’