While travelling through Japan a few weeks ago I was keen to read an English language newspaper so picked up The Weekend Australian for 11-12 August. I was most pleased to see an article written both proclaiming our yachtsmen's efforts but more importantly the background as to how sailing became responsible for more than 40% of Australia's gold medals at the London Olympics in 2012! Simon King began his article by describing Yachting Australia's disappointment at not winning a single medal at Athens in 2004 being the catalyst to develop a very professional plan to rectify Australia's slipping in the world's eyes as a premier yachting nation.
It gave me a good feeling to know that TackTracker had played a small part in the long term plan instigated by Phil Jones, John Bertrand, Peter Conde and Victor Kovalenko. Coincidentally it began in the suburb of Brighton where TackTracker had its official launch at the Etchells Worlds in 2009 at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club. Phil Jones headed the team that identified the need for a properly researched and documented plan. Enter Peter Conde.
We met with Peter Conde in late 2009 at Royal Brighton Yacht Club where he described Yachting Australia's quest for gold at the London Olympics called the "Gold Medal Plan". This resulted in us providing all state coaches including Victor Kovalenko with the hardware and software to use TackTracker to really fine tune their efforts. As Phil Jones said: "Performances at this level are so finely grained that we really didn't feel we had all the bases properly covered." This is what TackTracker does, albeit at the Olympic or beginner's level - it identifies the most efficient means to improve for all levels of sailing. Simon King went on to describe the development of a "Patrons Program" which brought many benefits. It brought great funding and incredible support from successful business people. The "support" resulted in Tom Slingsby changing his mind about retirement after a disappointing Beijing Olympic campaign.
The Gold Medal Plan also focussed on identifying and developing Olympic talent. Tom Slingsby, Krystal Weir (Laser Radial), Nathan Outteridge and Iain "Goobs" Jensen in the 49er and Elise Rechichi in the 470 are all about the same age. Of course we have not mentioned Matthew Belcher and Malcolm Page (gold medallist from Beijing) winner of gold in the 470s battling hard with the Brits Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell. Malcolm Page is now retiring as Australia's most successful Olympic yachtsman and also one of our most respected.
Malcolm not only shared his knowledge with the entire Australian team over the last few years but was even seen to be sharing it with the weaker teams at the Olympics - after the gold medal was assured of course. This resembles TackTracker's attitude. We have been approached by some sailing coaches in Rio de Janeiro and are most keen for them to utilise TackTracker to improve knowing this will help raise the profile of sailing as the best sport in the world.
Well done again Yachting Australia and all your sailors and coaches. TackTracker hopes to remain involved in your quest to improve even further at Rio. Stay tuned for more reports on TackTracker's involvement at various World and National regattas.Greg Seers August 30, 2012