Victorian 420 girls sail to the top

by Jarka Kluth/ WGIS Committee

Ella Grimshaw and Laura Harding on the podium
Ella Grimshaw and Laura Harding on the podium
Laura Harding and Ella Grimshaw on the water
Laura Harding and Ella Grimshaw on the water

If we were in the game of cricket we’d say there have been two female athletes getting some serious runs on the board! With a series of successful regatta results in the 420 class, Laura Harding and Ella Grimshaw are paving the way for a successful sailing future.

Starting their 2017 campaign offensive, Laura and Ella qualified as the best Australian 420 Youth females at the Australian 420 Nationals and Youth Nationals held in Adelaide, January 2017.

With their sights set on a series of high level goals for 2017-18 the athletes trained hard throughout the year, attending an Australian Sailing Youth Team camp in November 2017 getting to know their team mates whilst fine tuning their skills in preparation for the annual Sail Melbourne International (SMI) regatta. Sail Melbourne is now Australia’s premier Olympic and Invited Classes Regatta, and the largest annual ‘Off the Beach’ regatta in the southern hemisphere.

Moving into full scale regatta mode the two flew out to China directly after the SMI presentation to compete in the Youth World Championships commencing 9 December in Sanya. Ella and Laura chalked up a fabulous 13th place overall. Little did we know this was only the start!

Their high-performance schedule then demanded a direct transfer straight to Fremantle WA to compete in the 420 Nationals held 20-23 December 2017, a warm up event to the International 420 World Championships. Despite their previous strenuous training and competition schedule the girls continued to deliver a fantastic effort retaining their title of top Australian females.

The competition was about to get stiffer, as were the sailing conditions. The 420 World Championships from 26 December through to 3 January 2018, presented the teams with strong winds and difficult seas. The trying conditions pushed teams to deliver everything they had, digging deep for seven full days of gruelling racing. With 39 international crews competing for the title of world champion, the nail biting competition continued with the top crews sailing neck-and-neck right up to the last legs of the final race. Consistent sailing delivered excellent results with a tied score for first place, which saw the Victorian team of Ella and Laura finishing second on a countback from the winning Western Australia team of Nia Jerwood and Monique DeVries. With both Jerwood and DeVries members of the Australian Sailing Squad team and on the pathway from elite youth to Olympic level competition, the Victorian girls put up an outstanding challenge. 

Now titleholders in the 420 Class as Under-19 World Champions and Second Open Females in the World, Laura and Ella have demonstrated an incredible determination and commitment to their sport and success, paving the way for future sailing achievements. Their determination and delivery of results is an inspirational example to other young female sailors with hopes and dreams of an exciting and successful sailing future.

“Winning means you’re willing to go longer, work harder, and give more than anyone else” (Vince Lombardi).

Congratulations Laura and Ella. Thanks girls for showing us how it’s done!


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