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Australian Sailing Team - Whales, dolphins, pelicans, and sailing

by Australian Sailing Team/John Curnow 16 Oct 2020 14:09 PDT

Throughout the course of Autumn and Winter, the Australian Sailing Team has used many venues up and down the East Coast of Australia as training grounds.

Recently, the Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club at Ballina hosted the Nacra 17 squad, as they continued to find the variable winds and challenging seaways that make Enoshima such an interesting place to race for next year's Olympics.

Just like Coffs Harbour and Mooloolaba, the club's location just a few minutes from the open sea offered many an attraction in terms of ease of training. There were also many whales and dolphins to keep the squad company, and back at the landing, the pelicans signed them on and off, whilst getting plenty of treats from the fisherman cleaning their catch of the day.

The understated Darren Bundock (two time Olympic Silver Medallist, and 14 times World Champion) is the coach of our Silver Medallists from Rio, Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin, and AST members Jake Liddell and Lucy Copeland. "It's been great. We've been here in Ballina for a couple of weeks. Basically we've been chasing the warmer weather, the seabreezes, and nice bumpy water as well, which is what we expect in Japan in just under a year's time."

"The testing has been invaluable, as too having both crews here for the whole time. Obviously we're missing out not being in Europe this year, so the training is really crucial. So having the picture perfect days, along with the really strong stuff, like when the Southerlies come through, so it has made it all worthwhile. There's a lot of technique in racing in the chop, and this is what we have been searching for."

"We're going back to Sydney a bit more now, and see how we go from there. Naturally we are really hopeful that we'll be able to go back to Europe next March when the competition fires up again", said Bundock in closing.

Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin are the Silver Medallists from Rio, and selected to once again represent Australia in the Nacra 17. The crew know a lot about being on the podium at championships the world over. Waterhouse commented, "It feels like a lifetime ago now, and we have good memories form back then. It is almost four years almost to the day."

"Having the extra year added on let's us focus on developing our techniques and our equipment. We're looking forward to getting back into the racing, hopefully in the near future."

The 2020 World Championships were in Geelong back in February, so then what is it like to go without the completion for so long, especially as this crew is known for thriving on it? "It is certainly hard. We do this because we love comparing ourselves against the other crews and trying to be the best. In the meantime we have some pretty training partners (in Jake and Lucy), and the results have been terrific match racing during these camps", said Darmanin.

"It's been really nice to go offshore and enjoy the East Coast. We don't usually get to do it that much, as we are normally overseas about now. It has been beautiful and the conditions have been really challenging, which is what we want and very similar to Enoshima, as well", said Waterhouse.

Getting out over the bar at the mouth of the Richmond River can be interesting. Not too dissimilar to a lot of places around Australia as it turns out. Darmanin said. "It's a bit of an adventure. I think Jason is a bit more confident than I am, and says his surfing background helps." Waterhouse added that, "Getting out is a challenge, but coming back in is the fun part. Surfing the waves back in is cool. Makes it a bit exciting."

On the day that we went out to watch them, there was a prevailing 5-10 breeze, mainly from the Sou'east, with a conflicting ENE chop and Sou'east residual seaway making it a real washing machine. Being there as the crews made 15 knots downwind in 10 knots TWS was well worth any discomfort.

However, what's really interesting to watch up so close and personal is the coordination between Jason and Lisa. Clearly this is why they are the crew that they are, but it is quite something to watch and behold, as well as being very enjoyable. Sublime in a way...

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