Opening of avenues, Sharing of ideas

Published on December 16th, 2020

Remaining connected has been the challenge through the pandemic, but Yachting New Zealand has stepped in to assist their nation’s sailors. Further, the Kiwi sailing federation created a program where young sailors can mix with elite competitors‚Ķ here’s the story:

An impressive crowd had lined up for a spot of ‘friendly’ Elliott 7 racing in the Waitemata Harbour. Littered among the 10-boat fleet were sailors ranging Olympic medalists and an America’s Cup and SailGP helmsman to some of this country’s top emerging talent.

“I must admit, I was pretty nervous going into it,” said Rod Davis, a two-time Olympic medalist and involved in at least 10 America’s Cup campaigns. “I felt that if we could finish in the top half of the fleet, that would be a good result. I thought we would get creamed in the Elliott 7s because I haven’t done a lot of sailing in them recently.”

Davis needn’t have worried. He was joined by professionals Cameron Dunn and Grant Loretz as well as Olivia Christie, New Zealand’s top Laser Radial sailor, and the quartet finished among the top three after five races.

This was the fifth in a series of racing held monthly by Yachting New Zealand on the Elliott 7s. It was started earlier this year as a way to keep this country’s top Olympic campaigners race sharp given their inability to race and train overseas.

“We value the connectivity through our programs from Olympic through to junior level,” Yachting New Zealand high performance director Ian Stewart said. “There’s such a rich history of talented sailors in this country and it’s fantastic to make that wider connection.

“These people are approachable and our young sailors know it but don’t always make the most of it. Campaign sharing is a key value of our whole program.”

Davis, who famously won gold for the United States in the Soling class at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and then silver for New Zealand in the Star at the 1992 Barcelona Games, wholeheartedly agrees.

“There’s a great mix of sailors around, and (these Elliott 7 sessions are) a way for people to share ideas. It’s not really the results that matter but the opening of avenues and sharing of ideas.

“Maybe some would have seen the other day that we are just normal people who make normal mistakes. The more we can break that down and make it comfortable for youngsters to approach some of the older guys, the more they are likely to learn.”

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