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Meet Our First Selected Olympians: Georgia and Antonia

Apr 3, 2024

Antonia (L) and Georgia Lewin-Lafrance

Georgia and Antonia Lewin-Lafrance, National Team sailors in the 49erFX, are so far the only ones guaranteed a spot to compete for Canada. That will change this week when the final selections are made via the Princess Sofia Regatta. The Lewin-Lafrance sisters are going to the Princess Sofia in Palma, Majorca as well but for them it’s simply a tune up for the big Paris 2024 event in July. They are already selected; the stress is off, for a while.

As designated Olympic competitors, we caught up for a brief chat before they left for this next event.

You secured an 8th at the recent Worlds. How’s the pressure?

We are overjoyed and filled with happiness with our selection and not yet on to the Olympics just yet.

2024 Lanzarote 49er and FX Worlds © Sailing Energy / Lanzarote Sailing Center 10 March, 2024

The last three years has been about preparing for the trials and that was always going to be such a big roadblock. All the small preparation for the last few years came together in the best way possible. It was not exactly the conditions we were anticipating. The way to do it is to stay calm and support your teammate. That turned out to be very useful.

On top of coach Krzysztof Kierkowski, we have been working with a sports psych to deal with pressure for a long time. For the last year we also have been working with a social worker/psychologist on interpersonal relationship as sisters as well as team-mates. We spend a lot of time together. We’re together 24/7. Traveling together, sailing together, before sailing together, after sailing together, at home in Chester. We’re like two peas in a pod.

Always together – when they’re free on Tuesday evenings the climb on the family Bluenose

We did a huge block of training in Belgium and Holland in the North Sea. Going into the World Championships in Lanzarote, Spain, the big trials to represent Canada, we felt it was entirely within reason to be in the top ten and we targeted venues that would help us for the trials. The whole thing that we were training for was different than the (hot) conditions we will face for the Olympics in Marseille so now we need to shift to that kind of sailing. We have some great training partners – we train with Team Belgium and Team Finland. Belgium has been consistently in the top ten.

What do you anticipate at the Olympics?

In Marseille the top 13 boats will be the competition. Our speed is one of our biggest assets. We have a decent height – not the best and not the worst (Georgia 5-7; Antonia 5-9). It’s definitely a class where you need to have reduced maneuvers and it’s all about speed. But in shifty puffy conditions there’s obviously more tacks. When you’re fighting for single digit results, that’s when your maneuvers really count. FXs are hard to tack; you lose about 40 meters in a tack. You can lose a lot if your work is poor. But speed is a huge factor.

The boat itself is extremely unstable. You have to train your muscles. You need to train every power position on that unstable surface. That’s very difficult to do in a gym. The best training you can do is sailing but then you can get injured. It’s all a balance. Also, there’s G-force. Any time the boat turns there’ G-force and you definitely feel burning. Your whole body burns when you’re sailing. We have a trainer in the Sports Institute Atlantic where we use the Training Peaks program to optimize the process.

Antonia: Boat speed is my job. There’s quite a good amount of adjustment within the one-design class. Sails – we test and pick our favorites.

Georgia: I’m the strategist. When I did a last year racing on CANSailGP the coaches there were really good tactic and strategy coaches. Talking about the wind.

What happens next?

There’s been a huge emotional moment about winning the trials. Now we’re setting goals. This is an extremely short changeover between the Worlds and the Princess Sofia. And then …

– John Morris, Editor

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