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27 February 2004, 01:25 pm
Fundraising Spectacular: Money Raised For Olympic Hopefuls
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Yachting Australia

The Event lived up to its name, with almost $30,000 raised just on the evening's auction items. The night was packed with athlete interviews, auctions, athlete footage, all whilst enjoying the sounds of the string trio and the lavish three course meal.
The room sparkled with four prestige Holden cars on display (with Finding Nemo playing on the DVD player in the Holden Caprice), the 49er spinnaker (emblazoned with the Australian flag) hanging from the ceiling and the gold fish that swam around the crystal bowls in the centre of each table.

Action footage of each crew was displayed on the big screens as Yachting Australia's President, Graeme AINLEY, presented the 2004 Australian Sailing Team to guests. The team received a well-deserved standing ovation by the audience.

Master of Ceremonies for the evening, TV personality Larry EMDUR, added excitement and laughter to the evening. Emdur conducted one on one interviews with three team members, giving guests an insight into athlete preparation, as well as their hopes and dreams for the year ahead.

The first interview of the night was with Tornado sailor John FORBES, who spoke about his skipper Darren BUNDOCK (who is already preparing for the pair's European campaign) and coach Mike FLETCHER.

Also on the night, guests were given the opportunity to be an integral part of the decision to choose the name of Darren and John's new Olympic Class Tornado Catamaran that they will use throughout 2004.

Guests selected from a list of names chosen by Darren and John. The most popular name voted for was 'Blister in the Sun'. This name is derived from the song by rock band Violet Femmes, but was short-listed by Darren and John with the thought of the blistering summer sun in Athens.

Yachting Australia Head Coach Victor KOVALENKO made a very inspirational speech, encouraging guests to not only follow the 2004 Australian Sailing Team, but to feel like part of the team.

"There are only 22 athletes that are officially selected in the Australian Sailing Team. However, there are thousands of people who are also part of the team. We need you all to get together and show your support," Kovalenko said.

Emdur continued the one on one interviews with five time Olympian Colin BEASHEL, who shared some of his past experiences and discussed the possibility of being the flag bearer in Athens.

"The highlight of my career so far would have to be Bronze in the 1996 Olympic Games, winning the 1998 Star World Championship and being part of the Australia II crew in the 1983 America's Cup".

I know my name was thrown around before Sydney 2000 as a possible flag bearer, however Andrew Gaze was given the honour. This time around Gaze has retired, so I guess it could be a possibility, but we will have to wait and see." Beashel said.

Paralympian Peter THOMPSON shared his Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games experience and his hope for success in Athens. Finishing just outside a medal opportunity in Sydney, Thompson is eager to push his limits.

Major sponsors for the evening, Holden, surprised guests by adding a Holden Monaro to the auction item list. Holden generously donated the money raised over the reserve price to the 2004 Australian Sailing Team.

Other major auction items, including a 10kg block of Cadbury chocolate, a signed Stephen LARKHAM Wallaby Jersey, a signed Mark SKAIFE Holden Racing shirt and a five litre American Oak Barrel of Inner Circle Rum, all went for well over the reserve price.

The true generosity of the guests was evident, with further auction items, including a weeks ski pass in New Zealand and a corporate function on board Grundig AAPT, added to the auction item list only minutes before auctioneer, Andrew PLYMPTON opened bidding.

Yachting Australia would like to thank Holden for supporting the Fundraising dinner, as well as those who donated money, and attended the successful evening.
Simone Green (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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