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Homegrown hopeful Sarah Hoffman named in Aussie sailing squad

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To say it’s been smooth sailing for Olympic hopeful Sarah Hoffman would do little justice to her sheer grit and determination to get there.

The 21-year-old Belmont sailor has been named as the youngest female competitor in the Youth & Women’s America’s Cup combined squad, which will compete against 11 other countries in Barcelona in September and October.

The 13-strong outfit was selected from more than 130 applicants and represents the best and brightest in the nation’s emerging and established sailing champions.

Lake Macquarie’s Sarah Hoffman. Photo: Nic Douglass @ SailorGirl

For Hoffman, who started sailing competitively with Belmont 16ft Sailing Club when she was just seven, following in the footsteps of her older brother who “made it look cool”, it’s a dream come true.

“It’s a pretty cool environment to be a part of,” she said.

“I’ve been looking up to some of these athletes as role models since I was young, so, to be learning from them now as my teammates is such an invaluable experience.

“Lisa Darmanin is a silver [Olympic] medallist in her class and Olivia Price, one of our drivers, I first met when I was 10 and she won silver at the [2012] London Olympic Games.

“Not everyone gets that kind of opportunity to compete with and against the world’s best.”

Hoffman is no stranger to competing on the global stage.

In 2018, she represented Australia at the Nacra 15 European Championship in Lake Como, Italy.

A year later, Hoffman competed in the Pacific Games in Samoa and, in 2020, she stepped up to the Nacra 17 class and began her Olympic campaign.

In 2022, she took out first place in Sail Sydney and went on to compete in the Nacra 17 European Championship in Denmark and Kiel Week in Germany.

Hoffman came second in the 2023 Junior Nacra 17 World Championship in Belgium and was on the youngest team in Gold Fleet, placing 24th at the Nacra 17 World Championship in The Hague.

The same year, she also sailed in Hyeres at French Olympic Week and in the Trofeo Princess Sofia regatta in Palma, Spain.

Sarah Hoffman (right) with the TAC women’s team.

With one eye on the 2028 Los Angeles and 2032 Brisbane Olympics, for now, Hoffman’s focus is on the America’s Cup.

The Australian squad trains in Sydney during the week on an AC40 simulator.

The real deal races with a crew of four, two skippers and two trimmers, reaching speeds three times the wind speed, up to 85 kilometres per hour.

“While we don’t have access to a boat as they’re only located in Europe, we’ve been racing our European competitors at night on the simulator and we’ve spent a lot of time working on team building as it’s so important to trust each other in dangerous conditions,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“It’ll definitely be another level of sailing when we get on the real thing, but we’re trying to account for that in our training.”

If you thought Hoffman had downtime on the weekends, think again.

The fourth-year University of Newcastle law student spends her spare time at home catching up on lectures and assessments.

“People ask me how I juggle sailing and studying but I see doing one thing as having a rest from the other,” Hoffman said.

“Sailing is quite mentally and physically demanding; in some ways study is a bit easier.

“But, I’m super passionate about it and I’m hoping to find a balance for a career in law.”

The 2024 America’s Cup will take place from 22 August to 20 October.

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