Australian Laser class Coach Michael Blackburn credits a strong sense of camaraderie within the national team for its enduring success.
Australia will enter the Laser World Championship at Split, Croatia, this week seeking to extend its proud history in the class, which includes back-to-back Olympic Gold medals at the past two Games.
Tom Burton won in Rio last year, emulating Tom Slingsby’s victory in London in 2012. Part of Burton’s win could be attributed to the competitive edge and support he gained from teammate Matt Wearn, who spent much of the Olympiad alongside Burton ranked as one of the world’s best Laser sailors.
“They’re a great bunch of guys, doing what they love and they recognise they’re in a fortunate position to do that,” said Blackburn, who won a Bronze medal in the Laser at Sydney in 2000.
“Even though just one guy can go to the Olympics at the end of the four years, I think they all get some pride in making a competitive environment that helps that guy do well.”
#FleetFacts: Racing at the #laserworlds2017 starts on Thursday in Croatia. A strong Team, headed by reigning Olympic champion Tom Burton and Matt Wearn will try to continue Australia's fine recent record, which includes winning the Gold medal at the past two Olympic Games. So, what exactly is a Laser? The Laser is a single person dinghy that was designed in Canada in 1969. It was first included in the Olympic program in Atlanta in 1996. The Laser is fast, responsive and lightweight. It is a single-sail dinghy with a centreboard. The Laser is considered one of the most competitive classes, with a presence in 122 countries and six continents. Current Team coach Michael Blackburn won a Bronze medal in the Laser class at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Tom Slingsby won the Gold medal at London 2012 and Burton won in 2016. #australiansailing I #letsgotokyo I #olympicsailing I #lasersailing I #laserclass I #worldsailing
Australia will be represented by eight sailors in Croatia, including Wearn, Burton and 2016 Youth World champion Finn Alexander, who will be competing in his first open world championship. Wearn recently secured the Sailing World Championship Test Event crown at Aarhus, narrowly ahead of Burton.
“Preparations have been just fine and I reckon the guys will be in good physical shape for the first day of the regatta, which looks like it’ll be in moderate winds,” Blackburn said.
“We were in Japan in July and then went straight to Aarhus. It was great to get a sense of where the guys were at in Aarhus because this year’s regatta schedule has been a little sparse.”
Among the top contenders for the World Championship will be Germany’s current world No.1 Philipp Buhl, No.2 Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus, and No.3 Jean-Baptiste Bernaz from France.
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