Olivia Price & Evie Haseldine in a photoshoot in 2023.

Olivia Price laughs when she reveals she has known Evie Haseldine, ever since her younger crewmate was inside her mother’s belly.

Price, 31, has known Haseldine since she was born 20 years ago because their families were close friends due to their fathers sailing together for Drummoyne Sailing Club. That relationship – and the pair’s agreement to embrace a code known as ‘The System’ – has allowed them to set sail towards next year’s Paris Olympic Games.

The pair stunned world sailing in their first 18 months of competing together by winning a bronze medal at last year’s world championships that were staged off the Netherlands.

The pair, who feature in NSWIS Lights Up documentary series on the Institute’s scholarship athletes, credit their success to boiling down the ‘unnatural’ communicative abilities they share.

To view the NSWIS Lights Up documentary series go to: NSWIS Lights Up

Both revealed they realised there was ‘something special’ about their dynamic after their first sail together at the end of the COVID Pandemic in 2022. By the time they dragged their craft out of the water both believed it was possible they could fulfil their dream of competing at Paris.

In their NSWIS Lights Up episodes the pair detail how they’d ignited the Olympic dream in one another.

Haseldine’s Olympic dream was inspired when she was only seven and Price turned up to Drummoyne to show the club’s cadets the silver medal she’d won at London, while Price – who turned her back on sailing after a serious back injury and missing out on selection for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games – was lured back to the sport by Haseldine’s unabashed enthusiasm.

 “I stopped sailing for about five years and [returned] once we had that conversation [about sailing together],” said Price, who created history when she was aged 20 by becoming the youngest ever sailor to win an Olympic medal.

“I wasn’t really looking for anything to step back into, but what really sparked my interest was Evie’s dedication, her enthusiasm for the sport and just doing whatever was required.

“She was still quite young and didn’t quite know what it was going to take. But for me, I was just laughing. I’m attached on to her enthusiasm and thought, ‘okay, well, maybe this is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for in finding someone that is so similar in the way that we communicate and are dedicated to the process and what is required to be done’.”

However, the pair – whose bronze medal at the World Championships was the Australia’s best result in the  49erFX class – attribute their success building on the “unnatural” communicative skills that were on display during their first sail.

For Haseldine, who represented Australia at the 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aries, one of the many lessons she’s taken from Price is the value of respecting ‘The System’ which helped Price and her former crewmates to the London Olympic podium 12 years ago.

“A training session is a lot of expenditure of energy, and it’s also a lot of mental energy,” said Haseldine. “The thing that we have in sailing is that there’s so many variables, you know, the wind, your boat, the set up . . . 

“We really need to try and control the controllables because there’s too many variables to try and control. And so, the first thing to be able to achieve that communication [that’s required] is to be talking to each other on a logical level.”

And she explained that was when ‘The System’ kicks in.

“As soon as we start to talk to each other emotionally, that’s it, we’re not solving problems anymore. And the training session must be used very effectively and efficiently. And that communication came through a structure Olivia developed at the 2012 London Games that her coach and her team of three called ‘the System’.

“Basically, the system is you know yourself, the boat and your partner and making everything operate. And so, when we’re on the water and something happens-  or we start talking to each other in an emotional way – we say ‘recalibrate’ to one another. Recalibrate . . . 

“That’s to say, ‘alright, that’s enough’ and figure out] the next thing that’s going to happen in the environment because everything that happens within the environment decides all our other actions and our process loops. And once we establish that system with one another we stay dedicated to that system . . . that’s when we’re working at a high efficiency.

“Once ‘recalibrate’ is said you can’t bite back and say, ‘I’m trying’. ‘Recalibrate’ is the point you need to figure out what’s going on next and forget the rest.”

Daniel Lane, NSWIS

Photos: Sailing Energy

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