Olympic sailor shuns Comm Games in favour of Su­perFoil­ing

Geelong Advertiser - - SPORT - DAMIEN RACTLIFFE

OLYMPIC gold medal­list Nathan Out­teridge says he will have lit­tle in­ter­est in watch­ing April’s Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games as sail­ing re­mains on the outer.

Not yet of­fi­cially recog­nised as an op­tional sport on the Com­mon­wealth Games pro­gram, sail­ing has been a medal win­ner for Aus­tralia at four of the past five Olympic Games.

Aus­tralia claimed two gold medals at Syd­ney in 2000 in the men’s and women’s 470 and an­other two in the same events at Bei­jing in 2008, be­fore Out­teridge and Iain Jensen led the charge in 2012.

They claimed gold in the 49ers at Lon­don, with Aus­tralia de­fend­ing its men’s 470 ti­tle and Tom Slingsby win­ning the laser class.

Out­teridge and Jensen then won sil­ver in the 49ers at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 as Tom Bur­ton claimed gold in the laser.

“You look back to the Lon­don Olympics and sail­ing won the most gold medals of any sport for Aus­tralia,” Out­teridge said.

“If that’s our No. 1 sport in the coun­try on an Olympic level, if you ac­tu­ally in­tro­duce it into the Com­mon­wealth Games sim­i­lar things will hap­pen.

“I’ve done three Olympics and ob­vi­ously sail­ing’s in the Olympics and I think it’s a great sport to have.

“(But) all I’ve known is sail­ing is never in the Com­mon­wealth Games so we sort of write it off and think that’s never go­ing to be an op­tion for us.”

Out­teridge ad­mit­ted he would find it dif­fi­cult to fol­low the Com­mon­wealth Games in April with­out his beloved sport in the pro­gram.

“It def­i­nitely de­tracts from the in­ter­est of it, for sure,” he said.

While the beach­side Queens­land city and thou­sands of ath­letes pre­pare for the multi-sport event, Aus­tralia’s best sailors are in­stead trav­el­ling around Aus­tralia for the in­au­gu­ral Su­perFoiler Grand Prix.

Out­teridge head­lines a starstud­ded list of sailors com­pet­ing in the se­ries, hav­ing com­bined with Jensen and Amer­ica’s Cup-win­ning skip­per Glenn Ashby to make up Team Euroflex, in what’s been la­belled the dream team of the six-boat se­ries.

The team re­mains un­de­feated through 15 races — seven in Ade­laide and eight in Gee­long — ahead of the third re­gatta on the Gold Coast start­ing Fri­day.

The se­ries then moves to Bus­sel­ton in early March be­fore the fi­nal re­gatta in Syd­ney later next month.

Out­teridge said this week­end gives Aus­tralia’s elite sailors — which also in­cludes Olympic sil­ver medal­list Olivia Price — the chance to high­light their sport to the Com­mon­wealth Games-host­ing city.

“I think what will hap­pen is that ev­ery­one up on the Gold Coast get­ting ready for the Com­mon­wealth Games are go­ing to see this craft, sail­ing around Broad­wa­ter, and prob­a­bly think, ‘Why aren’t these in the Com­mon­wealth Games?,” Out­teridge said.

“We’ll have six boats up there this week­end sail­ing around and hope­fully they’ll see what sail­ing is all about.”

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