The twenty two member squad consists of seasoned, experienced and highly successful sailors including Iain MURRAY, Andrew PALFREY, Belinda STOWELL, Michael BLACKBURN, Karyn GOJNICH, Nicky BETHWAITE and Darren BUNDOCK who will aid in mentoring some of the newer and younger team members. With three Olympic medal recipients, countless world and national champions in the team, they will be a formidable force on the racing circuit in 2006.
To be selected for the AST, sailors must finish in the top ten at an Olympic Class World Championship for that year (or equivalent) or be identified as having the potential to do so within two years.
The drive behind the team is to place greater emphasis on winning gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and beyond. In order to accomplish this, the AST will be provided with more support in terms of funding, world class coaching, sports science and technical resources than ever before.
Lead by Australian Sailing Team Head Coach Victor KOVALENKO, the team of national coaches and sports service staff plan to provide the athletes with as many resources as possible to alleviate the burden of funding and commitment issues, so that they can focus all their energy on improving their current results.
Rob BROWN, announced as the new Olympic and Paralympic Team Program Manager, will focus on developing the Australian Sailing Team as the official Australian national representative team in Olympic Class Sailing.
The dinner brought together influential sailing supporters including Stephen AINSWORTH, Guido BELGIORNO-NETTIS, Martin & Lisa HILL, Bob & Sandy OATLEY, Richard PERINI and Tony WALLS who have generously shown interest in supporting the new team. Commodores Rex HARRISON (RSYS), Ian BOX (MHYC) and William KIRBY (RQYS) along with many more sailing enthusiasts mingled with the team, staff and coaches to make the night a great success.
The athletes and guests were inspired by the President of the Australian Olympic Committee, Mr John COATES AO, AM and the President of Yachting Australia, Mr Andrew PLYMPTON who spoke of the support and commitment required to launch a national team and campaign for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and beyond.
On a more personal level, Sydney 2000 Gold Medal Olympian Tom KING OAM addressed the gathering and spoke of his personal experience on the road to an Olympic Gold Medal and the dedication of resources, supporters and sponsors that are an integral part of any sailors' success.
The team were delighted and humbled by the success of the evening and very appreciative of the support offered by so many sponsors and supporters present.
2006 Australian Sailing Team
Finn: Josh BEAVER
Tornado: Darren BUNDOCK, Glenn ASHBY