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The Future is Now – Performance Pathways preparing champions

by Australian Sailing 7 Jul 07:28 PDT
Sophie Jackson & Angus Higgins (470 Mixed) competing at Semaine Olympique Française in Hyeres © Beau Outteridge

The Australian Sailing (AS) Performance Pathway represents the progression from competitive club sailing to the Australian Sailing Team for Olympic and Olympic pathway classes.

A crucial step of the Performance Pathway is the Australian Sailing Futures Program, which provides opportunities for emerging athletes to experience what it means and what it takes to be a high-performance athlete.

The Futures Program brings together emerging athletes and key coaches from across Australia for high quality training, racing and development opportunities, and is a crucial link between State Performance Programs and the Australian Sailing Squad.

48 up-and-coming athletes across the Olympic classes currently make up the ASF roster, and with international borders opening back up, many are getting their first taste of international competition.

Currently competing in the Mixed 470 class, Alex Higgins is one such athlete, having recently finished 30th at the Kiel Week regatta with Skipper Sophie Jackson.

"Futures has been great for me, as after sailing in the 420 class I felt a little lost with where to go in the sport and ended up not sailing very much at all for a few years," Higgins said.

"With the futures program I have been able to re-engage with sailing and my love of the sport, and found myself back on track to achieve my sailing goal of being a world champion and competing at the Olympics, things that I'd all but given up on."

Performance Pathways link in with Australian Sailing's High Performance Strategy, which is focusing on the retention of developing sailors in the sport for longer through best practice development opportunities to support long term development and success in the sport. These include:

  • Promoting a squad approach as the cultural norm
  • Ensuring access to bigger fleets and developing 'brilliant racers' with enhanced regatta coaching solutions and a more progressive approach to competition exposure, particularly in Europe
  • Being more deliberate in the use of youth events to support the development of athletes and coaches
National Performance Pathway Manager for Australian Sailing, Ken Lynch says that the ASF program was put in place to support top level state athletes bridge up into senior international level competitions, and that the results and feedback suggest we are on the right track.

"The performances we've observed by ASF sailors over recent months suggests that we are on the right track with the level and type of support we have put in place," says Lynch.

"Transitioning to the top tier of world sailing takes sustained commitment and time. This crop of ASF sailors is progressing well and have demonstrated the type of performances that suggest they are tracking well."

Furthermore, Lynch states that the alignment of certain factors has contributed largely to the success of the program.

"Of particular value to date has been the integration of coaches and programs from state through to the Australian Sailing Team level," says Lynch.

"We look forward to the continued evolution of this program and seeing further progression of athletes involved in performance pathway."

More information on the ASF program here.

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