Australia's Tom Burton shows his joy after winning gold place in the men's Laser final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP
Australia's Tom Burton shows his joy after winning gold place in the men's Laser final at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Picture: Lukas Coch/AAP

Olympic champs hit Denmark for world sailing championships

AUSTRALIA has headed to the fifth Sailing World Championships stacked with Olympic gold medal-winning talent.

The tournament, which starts in the Denmark city of Aarhus on Thursday night, is a key selection event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Australia's sole sailing gold medallist at Rio 2016, Tom Burton, will headline the team, competing in the Laser class.

Burton has kept up the form that delivered him glory in Brazil, heading to the championships as the No.1-ranked Laser competitor.

Mathew Belcher just fell short of winning consecutive gold medals in the 470 class two years ago after taking out the category at the 2012 London Olympics with Malcolm Page.

Belcher and Will Ryan were Australia's only gold medallists at the last world championships, in Spain in 2014.

The team's fortunes have also been boosted by other returning heroes from dominant 2012 campaign in England.

Tom Slingsby, an Olympic champion in London, is making his comeback to top-flight sailing by switching from his preferred Laser class to Finn.

Iain Jensen isn't changing from the class that delivered him gold in London, joining Will Phillips in the 49er while his regular crew recovers from injury.

Nathan Outteridge, who previously partnered with Jensen, is in the mixed Nacra class with sister Haylee Outteridge.

Lisa Darmanin and Jason Waterhouse will be looking to go one better after finishing second in the Nacra class in Rio.

The pair is heading in the right direction after taking out a bronze medal at the last world championships.

Australian Sailing performance director Iain Murray says he will start making calls on who he wants in the team immediately after the event.

"These (returning) guys have had success in the Olympic arena, they've been plucked to the very top end of professional sailing and they've been in the very highest quality professional sailing teams," Murray said.

"So when they come back and bring all that experience with them, it's a fantastic asset for the young people in the team to hear their experiences."

- AAP


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