Feb 9, 2016

Olympic Sailors

Brothers place 2nd in 470 medal race, qualify Canada but not themselves

In a tight race at this weekend's ISAF World Cup in Miami, Jacob and Graeme Chaplin-Saunders came out victorious and secured Canada a spot in the men's 470 event at the 2016 Summer Games.

Now begins the work of getting themselves on the Olympic team; a task made easier by their performance this weekend.

"It was a really tricky race," said Jacob, 23, after finishing their first-ever medal race. "We didn't have a great start but managed to claw back and kept passing boats.

"We managed to move up the leader board then finished off with second in the medal race, which bumped us up to seventh overall. So certainly, one of the high points in our racing career."

Olympic Sailors 500

Photo: Canada sailors Jacob and Graeme Chaplin-Saunders on Olympics

The Chaplin-Saunders brothers from Chester, N.S., teamed up to sail competitively in 2009. Jacob takes the helm, while Graeme holds the position of crew. The 470 is an Olympic-class dinghy sailed by a two-person crew, and is highly dependent on teamwork to sail well.

"We've been campaigning now for five years for the 2016 games," said 25-year-old Graeme. "So [qualifying is] really the culmination of that campaign and all our hard work, so we're looking forward to it."

Not going to Rio yet

But just because the brothers qualified Canada for the 470 event doesn't mean they will be the athletes competing in Rio. 

Sailing is an Olympic sport where athletes qualify spots for their country, and then continue to compete for their individual positions on Team Canada. In a number of events from now until June, Jacob and Graeme will compete for performances and results that will convince Sail Canada to nominate them to the Canadian Olympic Committee.

"We finished off with a good medal race and we're fairly confident we'll be the team that goes."Jacob said of their chances at being the team sent. "Half the battle is done.

"Right now we're focused on our program and want to keep improving and getting solid results at the next regatta coming up," which is the 407 World Championships at San Isidro, Argentina starting Feb. 20.

Rising team at Rio

Sail Canada high-performance coordinator Colleen Coderre told CBC Sports the federation is looking to send what they call "a rising team" to the Olympics – a team they can foster in Rio looking towards the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan.

"That's Sail Canada's outlook for Rio and I hope we fall into that," said Jacob. "We want to get an Olympics under our belt and hopefully come to Tokyo with a shot at a medal.

"Not to say that we can't win a medal in Rio, but it's definitely a long shot."

Sail Canada will be nominating Canada's Olympic team in mid-June, a month and a half before the Games which start Aug. 5.

 

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