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Canadian sailor Sarah Douglas 8th overall in ILCA 6 at French Olympic Week

by Sail Canada 27 Apr 16:14 PDT April 21-28, 2024
Sarah Douglas at French Olympic Week © Sail Canada

Sarah Douglas from Toronto took the 8th spot overall in ILCA 6 at the French Olympic Week sailing competition which ended on Saturday in Hyères, France.

French Olympic Week, which showcases all ten Olympic classes and is reserved for nations which have qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, was a good opportunity to prepare a few months prior to the start of the Olympic competition considering that the ILCA 6 medallists from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the last three world championships were all in action, except for the gold medalist in three of those events, Anne-Marie Rindom from Denmark.

Following the cancellation of Saturday's Medal Race due to blowing winds which were constantly at 25-32 knots, Charlotte Rose from the USA took first place, followed by Marit Bouwmeester from the Netherlands and Line Flem Oest from Norway.

"I'm happy with my week in Hyères. My main focus was to get off the starting line with a good lane and I managed to be successful in the majority of the races," said Douglas. "The conditions were windy and cold for most of the week and I was happy with my speed around the course, I just need to work on carrying out the first best strategy correctly more often. Now we focus on preparations at the Olympic venue as we look towards Paris 2024."

Last Chance Regatta

The 2024 French Olympic Week event was held simultaneously with the Last Chance Regatta, which was the last opportunity to qualify spots for countries at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Even if Canada had representatives in ILCA 7, men's kiteboarding as well as in women's and men's iQFoil, the country unfortunately did not qualify additional spots.

The closest athlete/team to do so were Galen Richardson (Toronto, ON-RCYC) and Madeline Gillis (Halifax, N.S.-RNSYS) who missed out a qualification spot for Canada by just one point in Nacra 17.

"Going into the medal race, we were nine points away from Belgium in 3rd, and three points away from Japan in 4th. Entering the double point medal race, we knew we had to beat Japan with one boat in between us to secure Canada a spot at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games," said Richardson and Gillis. "Our strategy for the race was to keep it simple and race like we know we can. The medal race was tight and we fell one point short of qualifying our country. It is devastating to be so close. Being one point away from qualifying for the Olympic Games is unbelievably hard to take in. We know that we fought hard for every single point this week and left it all out on the race course."

"We have so much to be proud of, and so much to look forward to. We have both felt every emotion possible this week. We are so fortunate that losing this qualifier is not the end for us, it's the beginning," they added. "We want to thank everyone at home for following along, watching, supporting, and rooting for us. We felt the love from Canada and around the world. Although our hearts are broken right now, we know that we will grow stronger from this."

"Our journey towards the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games begins today. We're excited for you to follow along."

While Canada didn't qualify additional spots at the Last Chance Regatta, another potential opportunity may come through World Sailing's spots reallocation process.

As it stands now, Canada will be in action in four events at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games: ILCA 6, 49er, 49erFX and women's kiteboarding. So far, Sarah Douglas (ILCA 6), Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance from Chester, N.S. (49erFX), as well as Will Jones from Aldershot, ON, and Justin Barnes from Pickering, ON, (49er), have all qualified to be nominated on Canada's Paris 2024 Olympic Games sailing team. In women's kiteboarding, the selected athlete will be known following the Formula Kite World Championships, which will kick off in two weeks in Hyères, France.

Prior to being named to Team Canada, all nominations are subject to approval by the Canadian Olympic Committee's Team Selection Committee after it has received nominations from all National Sport Organizations.

Full qualification processes for countries to qualify spots at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, the manner in which Canadians can qualify themselves to be nominated for the Paris 2024 Team Canada squad, as well as the full qualification schedule are available at www.sailing.ca/sc_event/2024-olympic-games.

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