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9 March 2007, 10:52 am
2007 Australian Sailing Team (AST) Announced
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Yachting Australia News

The 2007 Australian Sailing Team (AST) was announced last night at a function held at the Audi Centre Sydney, in Rosebery
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The eighteen member Team consists of some of the most highly decorated sailors in the world including world number one pair Mat BELCHER and Nick BEHRENS in the 470 class, Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY in the Tornado class and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Bronze medallist and current World and National Champion in the Laser Class, Michael BLACKBURN.

To be included in the Team each year, crews must finish in the top ten at the World Championships in their class, the top three at the European Championship, or be ranked in the top three in ISAF World Sailing Rankings.

Olympic Sailing Program Director, Michael JONES commented '2006 was the inaugural year of the Australian Sailing Team and it delivered incredibly successful results including 29 medals from major international competitions and 85 top 15 places in grade 1 events. These results raised Australia's International Sailing Federation (ISAF) world ranking from ninth to second in under a year and closed the gap on arch rivals Team GBR to a very narrow margin.'

'2007 now sees the Team not only building upon this success but preparing in depth for the Games in 2008. We have a new focus on developing attitudes, skills and technologies which will deliver speed in light breeze and high current conditions similar to those we expect at the Games.'

'Our success is always being tested, but none more so than at our benchmark event for the year, the Qingdao International Regatta, China in August 2007, the second test event in sailing for the 2008 Games.'

Head Coach Victor KOVALENKO leads a team of eight full time coaches that support AST athletes. Victor coached two Australian 470 pairs to two Gold medals at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

18ft Skiff World Champion and trimmer on 1983 America's Cup winner 'Australia II', Rob BROWN OAM is the Olympic Program Manager for the Team.

Yachting Australia President, Andrew PLYMPTON said 'Since Yachting Australia acted to establish the AST some 12 months ago it has gone from strength to strength and has completely validated the Boards decision to establish it as a separate, agile and high performance unit within Yachting Australia. Of course this success is due in no small part to the generous support provided by both our Principal Partner the Australian Sports Commission, the Australian Institute of Sport, the world's leading sport's institute, and our incredibly supportive corporate partners.'

'In 2006 we were extremely fortunate to secure the support of premier organizations such as Major Co-sponsors Audi Australia and Hamilton Island, exclusive clothing supplier Gill Australia, exclusive deck hardware supplier Ronstan and official supplier FSE Robline. We look forward to continuing our winning partnership with these generous and outstanding organizations.'

The Team recently returned from a National training camp held on Hamilton Island where they undertook intensive on and off water training sessions. They leave for Europe in the coming days to contest a number of major international championships in their classes.

Their European tour of duty will culminate in early July at the ISAF World Sailing Championship in Cascais, Portugal. Here the Team members will be aiming to qualify Australia for places in each class at the 2008 Olympic Regatta and to take out the coveted President of the IOC Cup awarded to the leading nation.

The Team will then travel to China for acclimatization and training before their key benchmark event for 2007, the Olympic Test Event. This event will be sailed in the waters off Qingdao where the Olympic Regatta will take place exactly 12 months later.

2007 Australian Sailing Team members are as follows:

470
Mathew BELCHER and Nick BEHRENS (QLD)
In 2005 Mat and Nick won Sail Melbourne and the Holland Regatta then continued their string of successes in 2006 by winning Kiel Week, the Australian Championships and the Sydney International Regatta. They are currently ranked number one in the world in the 470 Men's class.

Elise RECHICHI and Tessa PARKINSON (WA)
At 20 years of age, Elise and Tessa have a string of awards and titles to their name. In 2005 they won the Yachting Australia 'Young Australian Team of the Year' award and Kiel Week regatta. This was followed by a Silver medal at the ISAF World Sailing Games and another win at the same regatta in 2006. They are ranked 10th in the world in 470 Women's class.

Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE (NSW)
Nathan and Malcolm are double World Champions as well as Athens 2004 Olympians. They are currently ranked third in the world in the 470 Men's class. In 2006 they won the 470 class at the ISAF World Sailing Games in Austria.

Laser
Michael BLACKBURN (NSW)
Michael BLACKBURN is a six time Australian Laser Champion and current World Laser Champion. Michael is a triple Olympian and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games Bronze medallist, he is currently ranked 9th in the world in the Laser class.

Tom SLINGSBY (NSW)
Tom will be competing against Michael BLACKBURN for the only Laser position available in the Team for the 2008 Games. In 2006, Tom won Sail Melbourne, Hyeres Regatta (France), the ISAF World Sailing Games and the Sydney International Regatta. He was also runner-up to Michael BLACKBURN in the 2006 Laser World Championship and is currently ranked second in the world in the Laser class.

Laser Radial
Sarah BLANCK (VIC)
Sarah switched to the Laser Radial class in 2005 after being our highest place Olympian in Athens with a 4th in the Europe class, a class in which she was World Champion in 2002. Sarah won the Laser Radial Australian National Championships in her first year in 2005. In 2006 she followed up with a Bronze medal at the ISAF World Sailing Games, a win in the Laser Radial class at the Sydney International Regatta and a runner-up to fellow team member Krystal Weir in the Australian Championships. She is currently ranked 5th in the world in the Laser Radial class.

Krystal WEIR (VIC)
Krystal was Yachting Australia's 2004 'Australian Female Sailor of the Year' and in 2006 won the Australian Laser Radial Championships. 2007 is already off to great start with wins at the Australian Laser Championships, Sail Melbourne and Sail Auckland. She is ranked 7th in the world in the Laser Radial class.

Finn
Brendan CASEY (QLD)
Former Laser Radial World Champion, Sail Brisbane and North American Laser Champion, Brendan switched to the Finn class in late 2006 and went on to win the 2006 Australian Finn Championships in only his second Finn Regatta. He was recently placed 5th at the 2007 Finn Mid Winter Championships and 11th with race wins in the Miami Olympic Class regatta. He is showing great improvement in this tough class and is currently ranked 74th in the world.

RS:X
Jessica CRISP (NSW - based overseas)
Jessica competed at the windsurfing demonstration event at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and went on to compete at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 in the Mistral Class. She won the Professional Windsurfing Association's world title in 1993 and 1994. With little preparation Jess finish a credible 7th at the first RSX World Championships and was runner up in the recent Australian Titles in Melbourne. Jessica is currently ranked 49th in the world in the RS:X class.

Tornado
Darren BUNDOCK and Glenn ASHBY (NSW)
Darren and Glenn have only been competing together since 2005. In that time, they have won the 2005 and 2006 Princess Sophia Trophy and 2006 Kiel Week. In 2006/07 they have had an amazing season with three Grade 1 wins, two seconds and are current World Champions at both Tornado and Formula 18 classes. As of February 2007 they are currently ranked number one in the world in the Tornado class.

Yngling
Nicky BETHWAITE, Karyn GOJNICH and Angela FARRELL (NSW)
Nicky and Karyn first achieved their Olympic dream competing in the 470 class at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. In 2006 Angela joined this experienced pair and went on to be placed 4th at the European Championships and to win both the Sydney International Regatta and the 2006 Australian Yngling Championships. They are currently ranked 19th in the world in the Yngling class.

49er
Nathan OUTTERIDGE and Ben AUSTIN (NSW)
The newest members of the Team, Nathan and Ben have been competing together since 2006. In the same year they won Sail Melbourne, Sydney International Regatta, the Australian 49er Championships and the NSW 49er Championships. They finished a credible 6th in their first World Championship and are currently ranked 20th in the world in the 49er class.

Further information on the AST can be found at www.australiansailingteam.com.au

The Australian Sailing Team
The Australian Sailing Team is the official national representative sailing team and is comprised of the best sailors in their class in Australia. Selected annually, athletes qualify for inclusion in the team by finishing in the top ten at a World Championship in their class, or are identified as having the potential to do so within a two year period. The Team is generously supported by the Federal Government through the Australian Sports Commission, the Australian Olympic Committee and is a Tier 1 Australian Institute of Sport program. The Team is managed by Yachting Australia, a member of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), the Australian national authority for sailing. The Team's goal is to develop talent and win Gold Medals for Australia in 2008 and beyond.

The Australian Sailing Team is generously supported by:
Major co-sponsors; Audi and Hamilton Island
Exclusive Clothing Supplier; Gill Australia
Exclusive Deck Hardware Supplier; Ronstan
Official Supplier; FSE Robline

Lara Watts (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The 2007 Australian Sailing Team:© Ernest Fratczak
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