Sailors off to Olympic qualifier

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Sydney University has four representatives in the 51-strong Australian team to compete at the 2023 Allianz Sailing World Championships in The Netherlands from 11-20 August.

Evie Haseldine, Madeleine McLeay and Dervia Duggan will be competing in the 49erFX class and Jack Hildebrand in the 49er class at The Hague regatta, which is the first Olympic qualification regatta for the 2024 Paris Games.

Haseldine (B.Arts and B.Adv Studies – Media and Comms) will be teaming with Olivia Price; McLeay (B.Liberal Studies) will team with Natasha Bryant; Duggan (B.Applied Science – Exercise Physiology) will team with Mina Ferguson; and Hildebrand (B.Engineering – Hons) will partner Jack Ferguson.

Hildebrand and Ferguson, a Sydney University alumnus and former Elite Athlete Program member, teamed together last Friday to win the 2023 Under 23 Junior World Championship in the 49er class at Travemunde, Germany. It was a back-to-back win for Hildebrand, who teamed with Max Hope to take out the 2022 Junior World Championship at Lake Como in Italy.

His ambition since finishing his schooling at Knox Grammar in 2021 has been to compete at the Olympics. “Sailing an Olympic class boat is enabling me to get closer to my goals of the Olympics, while being incredibly fun and exhilarating all of the time,” he told his school magazine.

Haseldine, McLeay and Duggan are NSW Institute of Sport Scholarship holders.

Ten World Championships will be on the line when the Australian athletes hit the water at The Hague regatta, the first time nations will have the chance to secure quota spots for the Paris Games, and the first combined Sailing World Championships since 2018. Australia will have athletes competing in all 10 Olympic classes at the event. Organisers are expecting more than 900 boats and 1400 participants from over 90 nations.

“Our team is incredibly excited and well prepared for the Worlds,” Australian Sailing Team High Performance Director Iain Brambell said. “We’ve had some great results throughout the 2023 season, which has the team in an excellent position for success in The Hague. We have built our preparation around the opportunity to win world titles and ensure Australia achieves 2024 Olympic qualification across as many classes as possible at this initial Olympic qualifier.”