Gold medals are on the minds of Australia's top sailors as they begin the long campaign towards Olympic glory at London 2012 with the announcement of the 2009 Australian/AIS Sailing Team.
Reigning Olympic Champions, silver medallists and new pairings headline the 2009 Australian/AIS Sailing Team.
Beijing gold medallist Malcolm PAGE begins his third Olympic campaign with a new skipper, as Mathew BELCHER joins him in the 470 class. The new pairing has gelled instantly with PAGE and BELCHER winning the first event of the 2008-2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup
at Sail Melbourne, as well as the recent Australian 470 National Championship.
"The time Mat and I have spent together so far has been phenomenal and the level we're at has exceeded our plans,"
"Mat and I are focused on this year's World Championships and we're after a medal. We're not too concerned about the colour but gold always looks good. We're both looking forward to going up against the best 470 crews in the world,"
Darren BUNDOCK, who claimed a silver medal in Beijing in the Multihull - Tornado event, is seeking a new challenge in a 49er with Ben AUSTIN.
"After three Olympic campaigns in a Tornado, the change to a 49er for London 2012 is a refreshing and exciting change,"
he said. "The 49er is just like sailing a Tornado on ice! I'm fortunate enough to be sailing with the current 49er World Champion crew to make me look good."
"Our new campaign is just like Dancing with the Stars, I'm now the clumsy new comer with two left feet and Ben is the star teaching me all the steps,"
Australia's other gold pairing of Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON begin their London 470 campaign refreshed and ready to hit the waters of Europe in a few months time.
Australian Sailing Team head coach Victor KOVALENKO sees a lot of potential in the 2009 Australian Sailing Team.
"This is a transition year for us but we still have a number of goals to achieve,"
he said. "Goal number one is to gain experience and goal number two is to be a leading squad in our sport at the various World Championships."
Laser sailor Tom SLINGSBY has put his Beijing disappointments behind him as he looks to return to the form that took him to victory at the 2007 and 2008 World Championships and finish 2008 ranked #1 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings.
Australia's leading R:SX competitor Jessica CRISP will hit the water again after a strong fifth placing in Beijing as she heads towards her fourth Olympic Games.
In 2009 the Australian/AIS Sailing Team will feature a second 49er crew and a third new pairing with Nathan OUTTERIDGE set to compete with Australian Sailing Development Squad member Iain JENSEN.
The Australian/AIS Sailing Team will maximise the benefits and expertise available through the world renowned AIS scholarship programme. These AIS sailing athletes will continue to be well supported through the sophisticated AIS coaching, training and competition program as well as individualised sport science and medicine support.
As recently as this week the Team returned from a successful training camp at the AIS Canberra campus where they undertook intensive off water physical performance education and training sessions. In the coming months team members will begin heading to Europe to contest a number of major international championships in their classes.
In 2009 the team will also have their first hit-out on the Olympic course at Weymouth and Portland as the ISAF Sailing World Cup series comes to its conclusion with the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta this September.
The Australian Sailing Team is proudly supported by major co-sponsors Audi and Hamilton Island.
2009 Australian/AIS Sailing Team
Men's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Mathew BELCHER and Malcolm PAGE
Women's Two Person Dinghy - 470
Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON
Men's Two Person Dinghy High Performance - 49er
Darren BUNDOCK and Ben AUSTIN
Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Iain JENSEN (Development)
Men's One Person Dinghy - Laser
Women's Windsurfer - RS:X
Jessica CRISP - RS:X
Selected but deferring until 2010