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Gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen taking on a new challenge

  • Jensen and Outteridge on the podium at London 2012  (Photo by OnEdition)
Gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen taking on a new challenge

A year ago today Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen stood on the top step of the podium at the London 2012 Olympic Games and received their gold medals after a dominant display in the 49er class.

Years of hard work had paid off for the childhood friends and after winning three 49er World Championships together, and all five events that they had contested in Weymouth, Olympic gold was finally theirs.

Fast forward a year and Outteridge and Jensen are back racing together though their surroundings are very different. Their two-man 49er has been replaced by Artemis Racing’s 72-foot catamaran crewed by 11 and capable of sailing at speeds in excess of 40 knots. The team is currently taking on Italy’s Luna Rossa in the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinal in San Francisco, with the teams contesting the second race earlier today.

While Artemis didn’t win the race and are currently two-nil down in the best of seven series the fact that the team is even on the water is remarkable. They’ve been forced to overcome tragedy after the death of team mate Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson during training in May and only recently launched their foiling AC72 catamaran.

For Jensen being a part of an America’s Cup team is far removed from working with Outteridge and coach Emmett Lazich in the lead up to London 2012.

“The America’s Cup is hugely different to an Olympic campaign,” said Jensen. “The 49er being a one design class is heavily based around racing skills while in the America’s Cup you spend a lot of time developing the boat and coming up with new ideas on how to make it faster. It’s a completely different skill set involved.

“We’re also working in a team that has 130 people in it, where in our 49er campaign it largely consisted of myself, Nathan and Emmett,” he said. “There has to be a lot more coordination with an America’s Cup team to make the right things happen.”

Looking back at London 2012 Jensen said that the event was unlike any other he’d competed in before.

“The week and a half of racing was one of the most nerve-racking of my life,” said Jensen. “The Olympics is not like a normal event, there’s a lot of added pressure. You spend four years of your life preparing for something and if you screw it up it’s another long four years before you get another shot.

“When we were able to secure the gold it was a massive relief,” he said. “Only after that was I able to relax and enjoy the experience for what it was. Standing on the podium and hearing the national anthem was one of the best moments of my life. It was a great end to a four year campaign with Nathan and Emmett.”

Outteridge and Jensen’s win also had an effect on their local community, with the boys from Wangi Wangi suddenly front page news. After the Games the town put on a parade for the pair with thousands turning out to celebrate with them.

“The welcome home parade was a really fun day,” said Jensen. “A lot of people worked really hard to put it together and it was a great feeling seeing the effect our success had on the town.”

Jensen also took great satisfaction from seeing his Australian team mates also having great success in Weymouth.

“The Australian Sailing Team is quite a close team and everyone who won medals I’d consider to be some of my best mates,” he said. “It was great to see what we had accomplished as a team. As well as being ecstatic that I’d won I was really happy for everyone else as well.”

By Craig Heydon