Grae Morris Foil at the at the 53rd Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía Regatta

NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS) sailors delivered a solid performance at the 53rd Trofeo S.A.R. Princesa Sofía Regatta on the shores of Spain, contributing towards the overall trophy for Australia, after an immense performance from the entire team. 

Off the back of the World Championships in Lanzarote, Spain that selected Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine (49erFX) and Jim Colley and Shaun Connor (49er) for the Paris 2024 team, in the 49er and 49erFX class, both teams showed a positive trajectory throughout the regatta, to finish 16th and 14th respectively.

Fellow NSWIS athlete Finn Alexander finished 17th in the ICLA 7 from 194 entries, Evie Saunders 42nd in the ICLA6 and Grae Morris 19th in the iQFOil Men’s.

Fellow Australian Team members Breiana Whitehead won the Women’s Formula Kite in dramatic fashion whilst Zoe Thomson fought back to take silver in the ILCA6 class, repeating her performance from 2023. 

Whitehead who was the first sailor to be selected on the 2024 Olympic team also collected the least amount of points across all ten classes after the six-day long regatta and therefore won the coveted Princesa Sofia overall trophy. She is only the second-ever Australian winner of this top accolade at the event alongside 470 Olympic Gold Medallists, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan.

The Olympic-bound athlete said, “It is so incredible to win the whole top trophy, I am literally lost for words. With so many great sailors here, I am blown away. And to join so many great sailors who have won in the past like Mat and Will in 2018, it is amazing.”

Following some delays on shore waiting for wind Whitehead came out firing to win the first race of the final series. However, with the ticking clock racing had to be abandoned for the day and as her main rival, 5-time World Champion Daniela Moroz from the USA collected a starting penalty, it was confirmed over the radio that Whitehead would take the win.

Reflecting on the week on what this win means for the Olympic preparation, Whitehead explained, “It means that I’m on the right track to the Games and just keep chipping away at everything that needs to be perfected to get better. I’m excited, it’s a nice confidence boost on the way.”

The Australian ILCA 6 squad has shown immense progression over the past few years and with 9 Australian entries and 3 of these women making the medal race, it was an enormous effort for the team.

Western Australian Zoe Thomson finished with a silver medal around her neck for the second year running. Thomson shared, “This week was pretty intense obviously, such a cool position to be fighting at the top with all the girls in the squad.” 

“It’s new for us, and all I was thinking about all week was Wearny and TB, (Matt Wearn and Tom Burton, Olympic gold medallists in the ILCA7) and how they’d push for every meter into the last race of the last regatta, and I tried to do that and I’m really proud of myself for never giving up.”

Reigning ILCA 7 Olympic and World Champion Matt Wearn, who came off a post-World Championships break following his win in January had a solid week, and after finishing the Medal race in 3rd is still in strong form for the Games later this year. 

Technical Director Michael Blackburn shared his thoughts on the Australian’s performance across the week, he commented, “As with many countries, our team will look to the results of Palma to help inform the remaining selections for our Olympic team, so it was a key performance regatta for us and a chance for each individual or team to put their hand up and say they really want onto the Olympic team.”

Blackburn added, “We do have a relatively young team across the board, so while we are looking for medal-winning performances in the 2024 Games, we’re also excited for future prospects.”

Jack Ferguson and Max Paul reunited after a 1.5-year hiatus and led the regatta for several days, ultimately finishing 6th overall, whilst in the 49erFX the pair of Laura Harding and Annie Wilmot fought hard to finish a commendable 8th off the back of 5th at the Worlds just a month ago. 

In the Nacra 17, the young pair of Brin Liddell and Rhiannan Brown reinforces that Australia’s future is bright, whilst narrowly missing out on the Medal race by just one place,  coming in 11th has shown their summer training program has been paying off. 

In terms of how this shapes the pinnacle event, the majority of the team will be in Hyeres, France for the next Olympic preparation competition and then will spend as much time as possible within the Olympic sailing venue in Marseille from May to July to ensure they are primed and ready come Games time. 


Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Pathway Team (ASPT), Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) and other Australian entries (AUS) at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia Regatta:

Formula Kite Women’s – 36 Entries

1st – Breiana Whitehead (ASPT)

Formula Kite Men’s – 64 Entries

21st – Scott Whitehead (ASF)

29th – Oscar Timm (ASF)         

38th – Hector Paturau (ASF)

ILCA 6 – 120 Entries

2nd – Zoe Thomson (AST)

4th – Elyse Ainsworth (ASPT)

9th – Mara Stransky (AST)

33rd – Casey Imeneo (AST)

42nd – Evie Saunders (ASPT)

48th – Sylvie Stannage (ASF)

64th – Brooke Wilson (ASF)

79th – Francis Beebe (ASF)

101st – Caitlin Shaw (AUS)

ILCA 7 – 194 Entries

5th – Matt Wearn (AST)

7th – Ethan McAullay (AST)

20th – Finn Alexander (AST)

68th – Zac Littlewood (ASPT)

83rd – Isaac Schotte (AUS)

85th – Stefan Elliott-Shircore (ASF)

102nd – Edward Reid (AUS)

123rd – Lawson McAullay (ASF)

125th – Jack Eickmeyer (AUS)

167th – Alexander Bijkerk (AUS)

146th – Michael Compton (ASF)

147th – Lachie Weber (AUS)

169th – Julian Taylor (AUS)

193rd – Steve Gunther (AUS)

Nacra 17 – 49 Entries

11th – Brin Liddell and Rhiannan Brown (ASPT)

13th – Rueben and Rita Booth (ASPT)

26th – Jake Liddell and Lucy Copeland (ASPT)

49er – 88 Entries
6th – Jack Ferguson (AUS) and Max Paul (AST)
14th – Jim Colley and Shaun Connor (AST)

49erFX – 51 Entries

8th – Laura Harding and Annie Wilmot (AST)
16th – Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine (AST)

39th – Mina Ferguson and Dervla Duggan (ASF)

iQFOiL Men’s – 111 Entries

19th – Grae Morris (AST)

62nd – Rory Meehan (ASF)

68th – Philip Cripsey (ASF)

80th – Matthew Quinlan (ASF)

93rd – Joseph Folley (ASF)

94th – Jack Marquardt (AUS)

iQFOiL Women’s – 79 Entries

47th – Samantha Costin (ASF)

73rd – Charlotte Wormald (AUS)

Mixed 470 – 68 Entries

24th – Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas (ASPT)

55th – Sophie Jackson and James Jackson (AUS)

60th – Ashlee Daunt and Brayden Daunt (ASF)

Article courtesy of Sailing Australia

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