Meet Jim Colley 49er Sailor Paris Olympics 2024

Jim’s Story
A father with a passion for sailing and a strong do-it-yourself ethos set Sydney 49er skiff sailor Jim Colley on a path to the Olympics.

Jim’s dad built him a boat and taught him how to sail it – and two decades later he is headed for the waters off Marseille, where the Paris Games sailing events will take place, to compete in one of the most fast-paced and competitive classes.

“I started sailing at age five when dad built me a little timber boat in the backyard,” Jim said. “And after he taught me the basics, I floated around Pittwater for five years before trying my hand at racing.”

As a 10-year-old, Jim raced Manly Juniors at Avalon Sailing Club in Sydney’s north.

“Throughout my teens I began to compete domestically and internationally, which led to some amazing opportunities that helped shape the person I am today,” he said. “I transitioned into the Olympic classes at 19 and began to compete on the 49er circuit whilst completing my engineering degree.”

Jim began posting some significant results after teaming up with fellow Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club sailor Shaun Connor on the 49er circuit.

He lists the highlight of his career so far as a silver medal the pair won in 2023 at the prestigious Hyeres regatta in the south of France – a major event in the lead-up to Paris.

The medal was even more remarkable given Jim was sick at the start of the regatta and unsure whether he would be able to race.

“It’s pretty cool, considering after the first day I didn’t think I could race, as I was ill with flu,” he said.
A win in the 49er class at the Sail Sydney regatta in December 2023 by Jim and Shaun ensured an Olympic quota for Australia.

“We’re really happy to cap off the season with a win on home waters,” Jim said. “We got four days of different conditions which was great. There were some light and shifty days early and some bigger breezes later in the week which kept racing really close among the Australian squad which is what we want.”

Jim maintains his passion for sailing because of the lessons he continues to learn on and off the water.
“I love the sport because it provides the perfect avenue for me to learn and grow as a person,” he said. “It teaches you so many important lessons – not just about boat racing – that are invaluable in all aspects of life.”

Jim is studying mechanical engineering and has also run his own sailing coaching business for several years, helping to nurture the next generation of young sailors. He hopes this will lead him to a “dual-focussed career” in business and sailing.