The country’s top sailors are well on their way to achieving their goals of winning medals, preferably gold, at the 2011 South Pacific Games in New Caledonia and qualifying for the London 2012 Olympics.
The young sailing squad of Junior Charlie, Teau McKenzie, Helema Williams, Taua Elisa and Toka Narayan, will be testing their skills in Australia and New Zealand in a full-on summer sailing programme.
Elisa spent the better part of the festive season competing in the Sail Melbourne regatta (December 14 and 19) and this week is in Adelaide for the laser championships.
At Melbourne he was placed 24th out of 55 in a high calibre sailing fleet.
He then came second in a training race in Adelaide before placing 15th and 33rd on day one of racing.
Elisa is being managed and coached by Arthur Brett who is the Australian Institute of Sailing’s national coach in Perth.
Both Elisa and Williams attended a training camp at the AIS last year.
This week Elisa puts on his coaching hat as he focuses on preparing national youth squad members Aquila Tatira and McKenzie who are vying to qualify for the World Youth Olympics.
Tatira and McKenzie had a six-day training session in Aitutaki where they trained outside the reef in conditions ranging from seven to eight knot winds in light swells, to 20 knot winds in one metre swells.
It’s going to be a tough competition for the duo as there are only four spots for Youth Olympics available.
However according to national laser sailing coach Anne Tierney, the duo has every chance of qualifying for the event.
Tierney is thrilled with the sailing experience being gained by the young team especially as the team’s only real big competition in recent years was the 2009 Pacific Mini Games sailing competition in Aitutaki.
“It’s really good for the sailors to be exposed to this high level of competition and experiencing racing in these big competitions,” says Tierney.
And Tierney is confident that the national sailors, who won seven medals at the Pacific Mini Games, will grow and develop into stronger sailors.
McKenzie and Tatira will then head to New Zealand for a week of training in Christchurch (January 16 to 26) where they will then iron out the rest of their summer programme subject to the start of school and their training in Christchurch.
Narayan is currently in Takapuna at the Splash World Champs – a new class of vessel for the 16-years old who is a competent laser class sailor.
Narayan is accompanied by Junior Charlie who is filling in as his coach.
Charlie will be joined by Elisa and Helema Williams for a full on programme of sailing right across New Zealand including the New Zealand nationals in Timaru (January 22-26), Auckland Anniversary regatta (February 4-7), Manly regatta (February 13 and 14), Wakatere regatta (February 28) and the Auckland laser championships scheduled for March 6-7.