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Nathan Outteridge in car accident

by Di Pearson on 8 Jan 2005
Nathan Outteridge, the current 420 Youth world champion and Olympic hopeful for the 2008 Games in the 49er class, was injured yesterday whilst driving to attend his first Olympic class Grade 1 event, Sail Melbourne in Victoria yesterday afternoon.

Outteridge, an 18 year old from Wangi on the NSW north coast, who turns 19 later this month, was driving on his own, but in a convoy of three cars, all on their way to Sail Melbourne.

The accident, in which Outteridge’s car ran into a tree, occurred at around 3.30pm yesterday just outside of Holbrook in NSW, around one hour away from the Victorian border at Albury.

He was taken by ambulance to Albury Hospital, then airlifted to a Sydney hospital and will undergo surgery next Tuesday for what is believed to be a fracture of his spine. He suffered slight head injuries in the accident, but according to accounts, is believed to be stable.

Ben Austin, a Sail Melbourne Laser competitor, was in one of the cars in the convoy and explained, ‘there were three cars and we kept switching drivers every so often so that we wouldn’t get fatigued.

‘After swapping people and cars at Holbrook, I was in the lead car, with Nathan in the middle car, driving on his own. We had only travelled a short distance in a 70km zone and he veered off the road into a tree.

‘Nath had to be cut out of the car, but was conscious when we spoke to him. I have spoken with him today and he will be OK – he’s cracking jokes like he usually does.

‘We all travel a lot to regattas, so we are very careful about not getting tired and driving safely – that’s why the three cars were travelling together,’ the 22 year old said.

An exemplary sailor, Outteridge just last month won the NSW Youth Sailor of the Year award in recognition of his many achievements.

Sail Melbourne was to be Outteridge’s first real test in a Grade 1 49er skiff event, following his first foray into the class at SIR’s in Sydney, in which he finished fourth.

His ambition, he told me at the Sailing Awards, is to follow in the Olympic footsteps of three-time 49er World champion and two-time Olympian, Chris Nicholson, who lives close by to Outteridge and sails from the same home clubs.

All of us at Sail Melbourne wish Nathan a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back on the water as soon as he is well.
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