Australia Gets On Board With Sailing, Our New National Pastime

Earlier this week Australian sailor Tom Slingsby secured Australia’s second gold medal at the London Olympics after taking out the Laser class medal race, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen did the same in the Men’s 49’er Skiff Sailing and overnight fellow skippers Malcolm Page and Matthew Belcher further cemented the status of Australia’s world class sailors after winning gold in the 470 Class event.

The win signals Page’s second consecutive Olympic gold having won the same event in Beijing, which gives him the rights to Bolt-worthy professions of legendary status. The real winner however looks to be sailing itself, with a gold medal ripple effect already making waves in enrolments at local sailing schools in Sydney.

Speaking with The ABC from Weyworth, Page said “it’s the first time any sailor has won two gold medals, let alone back to back. So it’s really special and it’s a great way to go out I guess because I’m going to retire now and yeah, I feel very happy at the moment.

My dream is to work in the management of the sailing team and you know share my experiences and knowledge and hopefully grow it to bigger and better things come Rio.

And who wants to share in the knowledge of a two-time gold medal winning sailor? Everybody, apparently. The consensus at local sailing clubs from all sides of the harbour seems to be that since after Slingsby, Outterdige, Jensen, Belcher and Page’s gold medal victories, there has been a huge spike in levels of interest in sailing.

Although a large number of people registering their interest in sailing lessons were apparently going to great lengths to deny that Olympic success has provoked their interest in the sport, those manning the starboard phones this morning said that there has been a definite increase in interest that really couldn’t be emphasised enough (the word “bombarded” came up several times).

Interestingly, several people I spoke to all pointed toward the less than gold-plated swimming results as being partly responsible for the sudden surge of interest in sailing, and acknowledged the success of Australia’s sailers as the greatest possible advertisement for Australia’s ability to turn out world class, world renowned competitors in the sport.

You might want to luff up on your nautical terminology, because it looks like Australia is running the spinnaker on the starboard tack and trimming the sails with very little drag, if you know what I mean. Nope, me neither.

Photo by Clive Mason and William West for Getty Images Sport