Olympic sailor lucky to avoid lockdown

Olympic medallist Jason Waterhouse hopes for plain sailing to the Tokyo Games after narrowly avoiding spending several weeks in lockdown in Spain.

JASON WATERHOUSE and LISA DARMANIN of Australia.
JASON WATERHOUSE and LISA DARMANIN of Australia. Picture: (Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Olympic sailing medallist Jason Waterhouse is looking to capitalise on his luck after narrowly avoiding a lengthy lockdown in Spain.

The Rio 2016 silver-medal winning combination of Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin were named in Australia's Tokyo 2020 Games team shortly before the Olympics were deferred to next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Waterhouse's previously packed 2020 program took another hit last week, when the remainder of this year's SailGP schedule was formally suspended.

But things could have been worse for the Sydneysider, who was poised to head to Spain in late March for his first European event of the season.

"I was a day away from getting on a plane to Spain and if I had I would have been in a hotel room for six weeks without going outside, so I have been really fortunate compared to others," Waterhouse told AAP.

"A lot of my Finnish team friends have had to go back to Finland and train in sub-five degree temperatures.

"Even New Zealand, our training partners and friends, they've only just been allowed in the water last week, so we are hugely lucky."

"We've definitely got an edge on them, but in a time like this you're just happy that all your friends are healthy and getting through."

Despite the restricted conditions, Waterhouse has still been able to do some work on the water.

"Obviously following certain restrictions on how we launch the boat, how much time we spend out there and when we get back inshore making sure we maintain the social distancing rules," he said

"When we are in Australia, which we are going to be for a while, we are just focusing on boat handling and training solo.

"I'm trying to look at it as an opportunity to improve my skills before Tokyo."

Waterhouse was part of the Australian team that won the inaugural SailGP series last year and finished second behind Great Britain in the only 2020 event raced, on Sydney Harbour back in February.

"The first message I sent out to the guys when we found out that (SailGP 2020) was going to be cancelled was 'what can we do to continue developing our skills while this is in shutdown?'," Waterhouse said.

"A lot of us on board made errors (in the Sydney race) which we wouldn't normally make.

"It (the F50 catamaran used for SailGP) is a real synergy boat. There's five of us on board and when one of you is off it's like dragging an anchor around the course."


AAP