Australian sailing was a far cry from the Olympic gold medal machine it currently looks like when Peter Conde responded to an SOS in 2005.
Without a medal in Athens a year earlier, funding and the future of the program were at stake.
So the former elite sailor turned business strategy consultant got to work.
Two golds and a silver were won in Beijing, before three golds and a silver in London were celebrated after a difficult start to the pool which failed to win a single Australian gold medal.
Three silvers and a gold in Rio were collected a year after Conde left the program for AIS, where he remained until earlier this year after another two gold medal effort Australian sailors in Tokyo.
“It was a significant turnaround after 2005 when sailing was going to lose funding, and it shows what can be done,” Conde told AAP in his first interview since joining Rugby Australia in the new role. of performance manager.
“Going to London with four medal opportunities and coming away with three gold and silver was incredible.
“Australia as a team hadn’t been so successful…they sent 11 Australian TV crews to spend the last half of the Olympics with us (on the sailing site)…they had these instructions to go sailing and not not go, and we don’t have to deal with that normally.
“We took over the local pub, all the locals loved our team…it was quite a special turnaround.”
Conde’s appointment to RA last month was made official the same day new eligibility laws for Australia were announced.
It was a low-key arrival which he said suited him.
“Maybe (my nomination is important), but I’d rather do something and see the results than talk about it,” he said.
No more than a fan of the code since attending GPS powerhouse Brisbane State High School, Conde explained he was far from a direct exchange with outgoing director of rugby Scott Johnson.
Instead, he will use his wider experience to assess competition, training and playing structures from the top down, which includes the return of a second division which he described as a “gap to be filled”. “.
Emphasis will also be placed on attracting and retaining emerging talent, making sure to paint the ideal picture of what rugby can offer.
He said maximizing commercial opportunities for the country’s best players would help them stay grounded, but the lure of big overseas deals was “just another opportunity that rugby offers its players”.
Conde has enjoyed working closely with Wallabies coach Dave Rennie, identifying some “gaps” he can help fill in meeting individual player needs and creating synergy with Australian Super Rugby Pacific clubs.
“Myself, with a wealth of high performance and business knowledge, I really need to work hand-in-hand with a coach who is the real deal at the highest level,” he explains.
“I spent quite a bit of time with him (Rennie); I like his way of thinking, his way of approaching player development, his way of developing relationships with players and building a culture.
“It’s a new challenge, but my experience at AIS is important.
“We have really transformed the way we work with state institutes into a real network of national institutes (as part of the first national strategy for high performance sport).
“They all had their own leadership and governance, but we found a common set of principles…it’s very much parallel to how Rugby Australia should work with Super Rugby clubs.
“Australia wouldn’t have been successful like in Tokyo if we didn’t have a really effective network working together and the same would be for the Wallabies, ultimately.
“We have to work together… realizing that we are not just competing with each other, but against the rest of the world and the different codes of football.”