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19 December 2008, 11:27 am
GBR's Loss Could Well Be AUS's Gain As BALDWIN Jumps Ship
Michelle MULLER and Laura BALDWIN
Michelle MULLER and Laura BALDWIN

Sail Melbourne 2008
Melbourne, Australia

It's not surprising that as the #1 ranked sailing nation in the world, overseas sailors are keen to align themselves with Australia's training programmes, however for ex-GBR Olympic representative Laura BALDWIN to take it one step further and jump onboard Team Australia, the decision was a "no brainer".
It would seem from an outsider's perspective an odd decision with London 2012 looming large - the chance to represent your country at an Olympic Games on home soil, something most athletes only ever dream of.

At the crossroads of her sailing career in 2007, having been excluded from the GBR Laser Radial Beijing Olympic trials, Laura BALDWIN stumbled across her future in Australia.

"I came over here [Australia] to find myself," BALDWIN admitted.

"I'd just be excluded from the Olympic trials… I had already planned my whole winter to come over here and train for a month and then do the whole "Sail Downunder" series … so I just decided to go ahead with what I had planned.

"I didn't know what else to do and I thought I would give myself six months to figure it out,"
the 28 year old said.

BALDWIN then became involved in the administrative side of the sport with a position at Yachting Australia in its Media and Marketing division and has since entrenched herself in her new Australian lifestyle and what she hopes will also be the Australian Sailing Team.

BALDWIN prematurely retired from the sport, disgruntled and disheartened until her enthusiasm was rekindled by her involvement with YA and the AST.

"I was totally ready to stop sailing until I got involved with Yachting Australia and the Australian Sailing Team and I really started to feel like I was part of the team and that led to me really wanting to be part of the team - it just felt so right to get involved with them."

A number of factors contributed to her decision to jump ship from the Mother Country but one of the major ones was the AST's approach to the sport and to their athletes.

"I've always hung out with the Aussies and the Kiwis at regattas and I've just always felt like I'm more that kind of person - with the Aussies, the day to day kind of affirmations are so much more positive and if something goes wrong it's not a drama or a problem - in the UK it's like what have you done? It's very different and I feel so much more relaxed and at piece over here than I did in the UK.

"For me the journey of the next four years with the Australian sailing team will be so much more enjoyable,"
BALDWIN said with a wide smile.

Changes have come thick and fast for the once world #2 ranked Laser Radial sailor - she has immigrated to another country, given up Laser sailing in preference for a 470, which takes her out of a singlehanded dinghy and hooks her up with a new teammate [Michelle MULLER] - she is now just consulting for YA and is back into fulltime sailing in a bid to make her second Olympic team.

"I grew up watching Neighbours and Home and Away and thinking Aussies were super cool," BALDWIN said with a laugh.

"And as Victor [KOVALENKO] said at the recent Australian Sailing Development Squad camp … for all of you to be sitting in here, the stars have had to align and I was thinking of all of the stars that had to align for me to be here, I really believe in fate."

BALDWIN continues her new 470 campaign at the first leg of the inaugural ISAF Sailing World Cup - Sail Melbourne today.

With just three training days under her belt with her new partner MULLER, their fortunes have been mixed but are steadily improving.

"We were up there with most of them at the top mark but we just can't seem to get the kite thing going on downwind at the minute … but we're slowly learning, there's a lot to learn on the boat."

Racing continues at Sandringham Yacht Club until Sunday 21 December.

Click here for all the news on Sail Melbourne 2008.

ISAF Sailing World Cup

The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 consists of the following events:

16-21 Dec 2008 - Sail Melbourne The Asia Pacific Regatta, Melbourne, Australia
25-31 Jan 2009 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA
4-10 April 2009 - Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain
18-24 April 2009 - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France
27-31 May 2009 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, Netherlands
20-28 June 2009 - Kieler Woche, Kiel, Germany
14-19 Sept 2009 - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain

Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup, including more on the seven events, the scoring system and the Notice of Series at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.

Jodi Kelly
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