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Hailey's juggling act in full flight as BA2018 approaches

14 September 2018

BUENOS AIRES 2018: The commitment needed to succeed in sailing is pretty much an all or nothing prospect. Throw in study and career goals and life becomes quite a juggling act.

Sailboarder Hailey Lea, despite her youth, has managed so far to balance those demanding interests, competing at the highest level for her age and showing maturity beyond her years as she pursues a path beyond sport.

“I’m currently in year 12 and will be finished with school in a few months,” said Lea, one of Australian Sailing’s five representatives for next month’s Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“My goal is to become part of the Royal Australian Air Force as a pilot - and I also intend to continue to advance myself in windsurfing.”

Hailey Lea finished 18th at the 2017 Youth World Championships
Hailey Lea finished 18th at the 2017 Youth World Championships. PHOTO: Jesus Renedo/Sailing Energy

Lea had qualified to compete at the 2018 Youth Sailing World Championships in Texas in July by claiming top spot by an Australian female at the national Youth Championships, hosted by Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron in January. It was to be her second youth worlds after she competed at Sanya, China, late last year. However, faced with a difficult choice, Lea gave up her spot on the Team. It has made her even more hungry to perform well at Youth Olympics.

“My decision to pull out of the Youth Team came down to my commitment to my year 12 studies and how much time I could afford to take off while maintaining my grades,” Lea said.

“With the chance I had to compete at the Youth Olympic Games in October, I realised I could only compete in one of these events and I chose the Olympics.

“I’m unbelievably excited to have the opportunity to represent my country at the Games. It’s an amazing chance to be part of such a big event and I am coming into it with an extremely open mind. I’ve never competed in a slalom elimination series and I hope to learn as much from the experience as possible. I don’t know where my skill level is in comparison to the other competitors but I will be giving 100 per cent each race.”

The former Sabot sailor - who lists her father and coach Robbie as her main influence - says she has “amped up the intensity” of her training on and off the water in preparation for the Games.

On the water, she has been concentrating on her downwind technique. Off the water, it’s been hard work in the gym “to build my endurance and strength in preparation for a long regatta”.

Lea’s dedication to achieving her dream of joining the RAAF shows no sign of lessening. But the expert multi-tasker is confident her best sailboarding days are ahead of her.

“I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open for future international events to further advance my skills,” she said.

Australia's Sailing Youth Olympic representatives:
Hailey Lea - windsurfing
Alex Halank - windsurfing
Mani Bisschops - kiteboarding
Will Cooley - Nacra 15
Evie Haseldine - Nacra 15

Australian Sailing

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