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Olympic hopefuls set for World Championship gain in Spain

by Michael Martin 26 Feb 16:07 PST
Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine - Paris Olympic Sailing Test Event © Vincent Curutchet / World Sailing

Three Olympic classes will hold their World Championships on Spanish waters in the coming weeks, with the Mixed 470, 49er and 49erFX events likely to shape the prospects of Australia's Paris 2024 hopefuls.

Australia has secured the Paris Olympic nation quota in all three classes but is yet to announce which teams will be their representatives at the regatta in Marseille this July.

The Mixed 470 World Championships start tonight in Palma, where the Australian Sailing Squad pairing of Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas will be Australia's lone representatives.

The duo from Perth secured the Olympic nation quota for Australia when they won the Oceania Qualifier at Sail Sydney late last year. They have been in Spain for seven weeks already, acclimatising to the winter weather.

"Palma is a well-known venue in the sailing world however we don't often come here this early in the year," said Jerwood ahead of the championships.

"We were concerned coming into the event about managing the cold and sailing in much more gear than usual. Thankfully it has been a warmer winter here so far, which has also been great for the light to moderate sea breeze to develop."

Jerwood and Nicholas had an up-and-down second half of 2023 which included a sixth at the Olympic Test Event then a disappointing 36th at the World Championships before finishing it off in style at Sail Sydney. They will be looking for a big performance at this event under the guidance of a class legend.

"We are continuing our work with Andrea Mannini, who is a gold medallist coach in the 470 class in Rio and the sail designer for Zaoli Sails," concluded Jerwood.

On another Spanish island many miles away, the 49er and 49erFX World Championships will commence exactly one week later at Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.

Jim Colley and Shaun Connor (Australian Sailing Team) and the team of Tom Burton and Max Paul (Australian Sailing Squad) will both be looking to stake their claim to the Paris selection.

Burton and Paul began 2023 strongly with a silver medal at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta in Palma before Colley and Connor secured a Silver of their own in Hyères. Both teams have also spent time at the venue ahead of next week's event.

"Lanzarote has proven to be an incredibly unique and diverse venue," said Colley. "A big groundswell and shifty breeze off the volcanos mean it's a racetrack where keeping your head is key.

"We did a training camp over here in January which proved invaluable, and we are feeling confident in our preparation thus far. It's an important regatta for us, but the goal always remains the same - trust each other and our process, and enjoy the moment."

Australia will have three teams competing in the 49erFX World Championships at the same regatta. They include 2023 World Championship bronze medallists Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine, Australian Sailing Squad duo Laura Harding and Annie Wilmot and the team of Mina Ferguson (Australian Sailing Futures) and Dervla Duggan (Australian Sailing Squad).

Price and Haseldine are back racing after an injury enforced lay-off and will be looking to replicate or improve on their 2023 Worlds result as they press their claim for selection.

"It's exciting to be in Lanzarote for the worlds," said Price. "It's been a few months since I last raced after having knee surgery after the 2023 worlds, so it's going to be about seeing as much as possible in the lead up, and then trying to execute the tactical racing we can expect here.

"It's another time for us to test ourselves against the world after a summer in Sydney, but the whole FX squad has put in the time and effort, so we're excited to just get racing."

How to follow the mixed 470 and 49er/49erFX World Championships

The Australian Sailing Team will be posting daily updates from both regattas on our social media channels:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/aussailingteam
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AusSailingTeam
Twitter: www.twitter.com/AusSailingTeam

You can also visit the event websites to read the daily media releases and check the results:

Mixed 470: Event Website (including live tracking)
49er/49erFX: Event Website

Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) and Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) entries at the Mixed 470 and 49er/49erFX World Championships:

Mixed 470

Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas (ASS)

49er:

Jim Colley and Shaun Connor (AST)
Tom Burton and Max Paul (ASS)

49erFX:

Laura Harding and Annie Wilmot (ASS)
Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine (ASS)
Mina Ferguson (ASF) and Dervla Duggan (ASS)

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