AOST, AODS and AOGS
The Australian Optimist Sailing Team (AOST) programme, which was introduced in 2006, and the Australian Optimist Development Squad (AODS) , introduced in 2015 which now comprises the top 8 Under 12's, encompasses specialised coaching throughout the year at AOST nominated regattas; these include State, National and International regattas. With the assistance of Australian Sailing funding, we can optimise the spread of the fund dollars beyond the five Optimist Worlds’ Team sailors who may be about to leave or age out of the class.
To date this funding as been spread over twenty two sailors, from 2017 this has increased to 25 AOST and 8 AODS - funding is tight but we are looking to corporate sponsorship relationships to assist and we appreciate having Gill Australia on board for the next 3 years. We will focus this coaching, not only on the top five, but on up and coming sailors who are likely to continue in the class for several more seasons. With the AOST programme we are lifting the standard in the Optimist class, not only lifting the sailors, as they move on to other classes. In 2016, Australia was issued an invitation to send a contingent of 4 sailors to form a North American Team to compete in the North American Championships in Antigua in July - whilst this stretches the budget further - it is an invitation that Australian Opti sailors are keen to take on again in 2017 at the Toronto, Canada event!
AOST sailors have each year formed into a tight knit group transcending State borders. They are eager to travel, to sail and train against and with their friends, who, like them are working hard at improving their own skills. They are also becoming aware that they are a part of something special and are gaining the respect of many other class associations, be they Junior, Youth or Senior. Some AOST members compete in up to 4 or 5 high level regattas in addition to the Nationals. This is the equivalent of sailing 2 or 3 seasons had they only been doing the Nationals and their home States. How can they not be better sailors!
AOST is not about burning out our young sailors or even creating Olympic Medalists and World Champions. Even so, we have many outstanding Optimist sailors and undoubtedly some of our AOST members will indeed go on to be Champions. AOST is about training and developing their sailing skills, using their initiative, thinking and acting for themselves, and above all enjoying the sport of sailing. Belinda Stowell, Olympic gold medalist, Sydney 2000, began sailing in Optimists, 3/4 of the boat sailors in 2016 Rio Olympics were former Opti sailor, almost half of them had already represented their country at IODA Worlds and Continental Championships.
To quote the words of one of our most dedicated sporting sailing and coaching icons, Huck (Malcolm) Scott, Olympic Silver medalist, Melbourne, 1956, “if you’re not having fun you’re not doing it right”. The benefit for each state is to have those sailors lead by example when they return from AOST training. Their focus will be directed to acknowledge and share their experience with their home state friends.