Laser Radial Team's Big Year Of Growth

Laser Radial Team's Big Year Of Growth

Australia’s Laser Radial program features four young sailors with the world at their feet. Under coach Jared West - a

Australia’s Laser Radial program features four young sailors with the world at their feet. Under coach Jared West - a former Australian Laser representative who mentored Ashley Stoddart to ninth at the Rio Olympics - the quartet of Mara Stransky, Zoe Thomson, Marlena Berzins and Elyse Ainsworth is looking forward to consolidating a busy 2017 and continuing to grow in experience in 2018.

West said the squad was planning a second year of close to full-time campaigning and raising standards.

"They all have different strengths and weaknesses and, across the group, we probably have a world-class sailor between them," he said.

"By working together, they give themselves the opportunity to maximise their strengths and minimise their weaknesses and all reach their potential. My goal is to help support our young women to make the Australian Sailing Team, which will require not only a sustained commitment from them, but a truly team effort across the States and support network. It's a challenge we're all up for."

Get to know our Laser Radial team better:

MARA STRANSKY

What’s your background in sailing?

I come from a big boat sailing background, having lived onboard boats from the time I was four months old. Although I am relatively new to dinghy sailing, beginning in the Radial (my first ever dinghy class) in 2015, I have spent a number of years racing offshore and overseas on my parents’ 50 foot catamaran.

What was your best result in 2017? How would you describe the year you had?

2017 was a steep learning curve for me with some near misses over the 2016/17 summer leaving me very determined to put in the work and achieve some results. Our first trip to Europe was a slightly alarming yet invaluable experience, which built our squad culture enabling us to come back stronger on the second trip. My most notable achievement of 2017 was probably winning day two of the Women’s Radial Worlds with a 2nd and a 1st.

What’s the most important sailing lesson you learnt in 2017?

A big thing for me this year has been learning to manage training loads and travel stress. I didn’t do that very well towards the end of the year and paid through injury and, consequently, less impressive results. Also, black flags are costly and caused me more than a few painful defeats!

What are you most looking forward to this year?

After some setbacks over the Australian summer, I'm really looking forward to recovering and returning to a full training load in preparation for the European season.

ZOE THOMSON

What’s your background in sailing?

I began sailing when I was eight in a Pelican and progressed into an Open Bic and National 125 before moving into the Laser 4.7 in 2013, which led to the Laser Radial for the 2016 Nationals. I qualified for the 2016 Youth Team and won the 2016 ILCA Radial Youth Worlds which has seen me continue sailing the Laser Radial.

What was your best result in 2017? How would you describe the year you had?

2017 was really fun but a huge learning curve both on and off the water. My best result would be winning the Australian Women's Laser Radial National title and being named 2017 WA Youth Sailor of the Year as well as having some strong races at the Open Worlds.

What’s the most important sailing lesson you learnt in 2017?

Probably how costly little mistakes are in such high level racing, every point really does make a difference!

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Seeing the improvements from last year, being more competitive in the European regattas and learning from the best Radial sailors in the world.

Zoe Thomson after becoming 2018 Australian Champion. Photo: Beau Outteridge www.zoethomson.com.au

MARLENA BERZINS

What’s your background in sailing?

I started sailing when I was 12 years old, sailing Pacers for my school. I then started sailing the Laser 4.7 in 2014 as part of the NSW Youth Squad and progressed to the Laser Radial a year later. I have been sailing the Laser Radial as part of the NSW Squad since then.

What was your best result in 2017? How would you describe the year you had?

My best result of 2017 was Sail Sydney, where I finished first overall. My year had a few ups and downs, from a poor results at Women's Radial World Championships, to finishing the Australian Summer Regatta season quite strongly with a few good results.

What’s the most important sailing lesson you learnt in 2017?

I learnt that while competing at a regatta, it is important to keep fighting for every point, as each boat you pass in a race adds up to make quite a big difference in the results at the end.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

Looking forward into this year, I want to try broaden my sailing skills by sailing a few different classes of boats. I think this will be fun and will help develop my sailing skills further.

ELYSE AINSWORTH

What’s your background in sailing?

I started sailing when I was eight years old in Minnows. From there I went into Sabots and then Lasers. I did a lot of sport when I was young, including athletics and basketball - I was selected in the Queensland basketball team - which  helped with my fitness for sailing. From there I decided to focus solely on sailing and began my long journey on the Olympic pathway, becoming apart of the Australian Youth Olympic team in 2014 and then onto Australia Youth Team which ventured to Sanya, China, for the Youth Worlds in 2017 and also joined the Australian Sailing Squad.

What was your best result in 2017? How would you describe the year you had?

My best result was in the Aarhus Test event, where I finished 12th overall but had three top 10 finishes with two in the top two. It was amazing to mix it with the 2016 Olympic champion and other great sailors. It was quite a learning experience. I also finished seventh at the ISAF Youth World Championships.

What’s the most important sailing lesson you learnt in 2017?

I think it’s important that, even when the chips are down, every point counts. When you aren’t doing that well, or even when you are, you must keep pushing for another spot, another point. It can be the difference between winning and losing, or gold fleet or not. I also learnt about health management - I contracted glandular fever in April, which made me adjust training and recovery. Unfortunately, it recurred during the year and I was sick during the last two days of nationals this year. I’m looking forward to a better health outcome in 2018 to allow me to train at higher levels that hopefully will reflect in some solid results.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

In 2018 I am really looking forward to just training really hard and working towards my goals. Working hard to keep pushing it and chipping away with the top women in world sailing.

 

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