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Young Kiwi sailors race in Academy



Eight teams of youth sailors will participate this weekend in the Auckland Stopover Volvo Ocean Race Academy.


The Academy worked closely with the New Zealand Optimist Association to bring the teams from Canterbury, Whakatere, Kohimarama, Napier and Murrays Bay into the Viaduct area for a three day training and racing series.


Each of the teams are made up of four or five experienced youth sailors, including at least one girl, and their own coach. They represent one of each of the Volvo Ocean Race teams, an Auckland team and a Volvo Ocean Race team.


The Academy began Friday at 10:30 am in the Volvo Pavilion for training and coaching sessions and runs through to today when there will be a racing final series.


The goal of the Volvo Ocean Race Academy is to leave behind a trailing wake of new umpires and excited and professionally trained youth in each of the Stopover cities. Thus the training and coaching sessions, lead by Chris Atkins, an ISAF Clinic Instructor, will also be training seven adults to be umpires.


Katie Hearsum, the Academy Youth Sailing Coordinator, said she wants to ensure the kids leave with big smiles having learned some new sailing tactics and be better team racers. “Maybe someday some of these kids will participate in a Volvo Ocean Race themselves,” she says. “Currently, the rules of Volvo Ocean Race dictate that each boat must have at least three sailors under the age of 30 onboard. We believe it is important to nurture the future generations of sailing.”


The Volvo Ocean Race brings 21 Optimists for use in the Academy at each Stopover. The Optimist boat was selected for the Academy because of its common worldwide use and reputation for growing professional sailors.


The first day included classroom sessions in the morning, on the water sessions in the afternoon followed by a debrief. All the water sessions will be held on the north side of the Viaduct Events Center and are easily viewable by spectators from the Wynyard waterfront area.


On Saturday, the programme began with indoor training followed by a practice race in the afternoon. The competition starts today when the teams will fight for line honours and a gold medal. Prize giving will begin at 4:00pm when each participating sailor will be awarded a medal.