Passing it on to the next generation

Published on August 7th, 2019

New Zealand’s Simon Cooke was one of the world’s best 470 sailors at the turn of the century, during an era when young people learned the sport from older mentors. Now in his 40s, he recently rolled back the clock in two ways at the same time.

Amid the modern trend of age-based competition for young people, which has fostered the need for coaches, Simon shares how he went about winning the 2019 RS Feva World Championships while passing on his experience to a younger generation:

It was a really good feeling to win the Open Title in Italy recently, and a pretty special achievement to share with my crew Oskar Masfen. The win took me back to Olympic 470 sailing days, when I competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and then won the 2002 World Championships with Peter Nicholas.

I knew I could still do well when I teamed up with Oskar, although that wasn’t really the intention. It’s an interesting story how Oskar, who is 11, and I formed a partnership. It all started at last year’s Etchells World Championship in Brisbane.

Oskar’s dad Anatole mentioned that Oskar wasn’t enjoying the Optimist, so Andrew Wills suggested that maybe I should sail with Oskar initially to keep him in sailing and start him off in doublehanded boats.

Our first event was last year’s Sir Peter Blake Regatta at Torbay, when we had a blast and quickly formed a good friendship. Oskar’s ability to learn and progress has been amazing.

We quickly noticed Oskar needed to get stronger, so he’s been at the gym ever since with noticeable benefit in the boat. Oskar does everything, I just do the main and helm. Many coaches mentioned how good his trimming was and this was a big factor in our success and ability to catch up in our bad races.

I think the Feva is a great class for me to pass on my experience and I can see myself involved in it for a number of years.

The Feva is an ideal early doublehanded, one-design boat and I’m hopeful other open crews join the class over the coming years and help bring in a new group of doublehanded sailors for New Zealand, especially with the RS Feva World Championships to be held here in 2021.

I’d really like to team up with my son, Ashton, for the 2020 World Championships in Germany and by 2021 swap roles with me crewing. I enjoy passing on my experience and I guess I’ll be doing that more ahead of the 2021 Feva World Championships in New Zealand.


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