Young Tasmanian sailor Lucy Shephard on Monday will begin an international campaign she is confident will lead her on the ‘Road to Rio’ and the 2016 Olympic Games. Shephard (21) and her crew, Victorian Aurora Paterson will contest the European championship for the International 470, the women’s two-handed class for the Rio Olympics, on the Bay of Gatea off Formia, Italy.
Lucy Shepard in action
The third year pharmacy student is a classic example of young sailors following Yachting Australia’s ‘career pathway’, from sailing an Optimist as an eight-year-old on the River Derwent, then moving through International Cadets and 420s to the Olympic 470 class. Paterson graduated from Herons to 420s and 470s on Melbourne’s Port Philip before joining Shepard as crew last year. The pair has impressed coaches with their combined skills, winning silver at the 2012 Sail Melbourne ISAF World Cup and earlier this finishing third in the 470 nationals. They are regarded by coaches as ‘big improvers’ in the small but high calibre Australian women’s 470 fleet. Also representing Australia in the women’s 470 class in the European championship will be Olympians Elise Rechichi and Sarah Cook, their third European regatta together as Cook continues her transition from an Olympic rower to a sailor. Queensland sisters Sasha and Jaime Ryan will be sailing in the women’s championship while their brother Will is crewing for London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Mathew Belcher. Belcher and Ryan have won all seven regattas they have contested since beginning their Rio 2016 campaign late last year. Other Australians competing in the 470 men’s European championship will be Mathew and Robert Crawford, Angus Galloway and Tim Hannah, Alexander and Patrick Conway, and Scott Cotton and Tom Potter.