Determined young island resident Mara Stransky could become the Bay Islands’ first Olympian if current directions can be taken as a guide.
The 18-year-old is well known particularly on Russell Island where she attended the Russell Island State School during her primary school years.
Many islanders have been aware of Mara’s love or the sea, the water and sailing; but perhaps not to the level she has attained.
She is regarded as somewhat of a ‘prodigy’ and is grouped with four other leading sailors vying for Olympic selection.
In the recent Laser Women’s World Championships at Medemblik in the Netherlands, Mara was somewhat of a sensation, particularly on day two of the hotly contested titles when she raced to second place in race one; and first place in race two. Sensational! The sailing world has certainly sat up and taken notice.
She has been now elevated to the top 50 in the world, known professionally as the ‘Gold Fleet’.
Not only that, she led the Aussie team all regatta, including last year’s Australian Olympic representative, Ashley Stoddard.
Clearly, the yachting world is literally at Mara’s feet.
Except for one small problem!
Mara has attained some amazing successes and achievements literally on a shoe-string budget.
Were it not for her parents Carolyn and Andrew Stransky, Mara would not have been able to make the many trips around Australia and the world to reach the levels she has attained.
Even though she is now at an elite level, she has only received minimal financial support with grants of just $6000 from Australian Sailing and $3500 from Queensland Sailing.
Whilst the grants are very much appreciated, it is not nearly enough to stay at an elite level in world sport today.
To put it simply, she needs considerable sponsorship.
The Friendly Bay Islander believes there are various ways to go about this; and one of them is for our islands to get behind Mara Stransky.
Parents Carolyn and Andrew have done the ‘hard yards’ and the family for several years having been living aboard their family 15 metre yacht.
Whilst they own a home on Russell Island which they rent out to assist family income, their real ‘home’ is on board the family yacht moored in Canaipa Passage.
In fact Mara Peridot Stransky is a true child of the sea.
Born 13th February 1999, she had sailed half way around the world by the age of two.
In October 2001 the family bought their house on Russell Island’s SE corner, back from Sandy Beach, with the
aim of building a new boat. Andrew Stransky just happens to be a boat builder!
Carolyn Stransky told the Friendly Bay Islander: “In 2005 we had some money to get the project underway and in 2009
launched our 50’ catamaran Fantasia.
“During this time Mara had the pleasure of attending the Russell Island state school with the most wonderful group of friends.”
Aboard their new boat the family sailed up to Asia, winning the 2011 Darwin to Ambon race along the way.
They entered every regatta going on the Asian Circuit and Mara not only loved every moment, but learnt everything she could about sailing.
“She became famous amongst the other crews for her ability to free climb to the top of our mast and for her passion for racing,” Carolyn added.
It was whilst travelling throughout Asia that Mara became excited to get into racing dinghies; starting out sailing the family’s tender.
In 2013 the Stransky family returned to Australia and late that year purchased Mara a Laser dinghy, the women’s Olympic
She continued with home schooling and was always out sailing in the afternoons, learning all the time.
In her first big regatta, Queensland Youth Week in 2015, she did enough to gain selection to the Queensland sailing team coached by Ash Brunning.
At the Laser national championships, Mara did just enough to scrape her into the Queensland Academy of Sport, QAS going on to finish 3rd overall and first girl.
The next goals were overseas, competing at the Laser Radial Youth Worlds in 2016 followed by more success back in Australia, leading to her recent success at the world championships in the Netherlands.
Along the way, Mara completed year 12 with the Cairns distance education school; was awarded Dux; and received the Caltex all rounder award.
An excellent OP score meant she could enter engineering, but she deferred to join the full time training program of the Australian sailing team as a lower tier young athlete.
In May this year she travelled to Europe for a training camp in Denmark with the four other Australian girls in the Australian squad.
The Stransky family have always been a thrifty, economical family, and they hope the lessons learned using good old fashioned common sense, hard work and thrift will help Mara pursue her Olympic goal.
Mara has definitely put up her hand for selection as the Australian woman Laser Radial representative in Tokyo 2020.
To get there, however, more money is required.
Not only are there considerable travelling and living expenses, but there are other costs such as every three regattas a new sail must be purchased, costing $880
each. She still owes $3000 for the boat she uses in Australia.
The Friendly Bay Islander would like to start up an ISLAND FUND so islanders can help Mara attain her Olympic ambitions.
We will start it off with a $500 donation.
We have also suggested that a Crowd Funding site be organised on the internet to gain further support for Mara.
We believe it might be time for a professional manager to be approached to help promote Mara to prospective sponsors.
Not only is Mara very athletic and a high performance athlete; she is also very ‘marketable’.
We think she has huge potential and we hope islanders can make a ‘contribution’ to support her goal to represent her country; bringing great credit to our island community.
If you would like to contribute you can. And if you wish to have you donation mentioned in the FBI, please advise or give us a call on 0400004373.
We would like to point out that the concept for raising funds is the idea of The Friendly Bay Islander. It has not come from the Stransky family.
You can deposit funds to:
ACCOUNT NAME: M STRANSKY’S OLYMPIC FUND
ACCOUNT NUMBER: 10550038
You can stay in touch with Mara at: www.facebook.com/mara.156739/
• Mara with one of her trophies