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Saturday 13 March 2010 | Published in Regional


Manihiki boys cap off training campaign

with first and sixth places in Auckland

Manihiki born sailor Taua Eliza capped off three months of big fleet racing and training by winning the recent Auckland Laser Championships.

Fellow Manihikian and sailing team mate Junior Charlie also performed well and finished in sixth place in the regatta.

The pair was part of a Cook Islands sailing group that went to Australia and New Zealand in December for sailing regattas to gain more big fleet racing experience.

Taua competed in six regattas over three months with marked improvement in each regatta and ending the programme winning the Auckland laser championships – was the cherry on the top for Taua.

“My first goal when we left here was to just learn to sail really fast,” says Taua.

“I wanted to take my sailing to another level, the next level.

“And I wanted to learn from really good sailors and make friends and contacts.”

For local Laser sailing coach Anne Tierney, the goal was simply to compete, compete, compete.

“It was about experiencing big fleet racing and different water and wind conditions,” says Tierney.

“Plus they now have all this knowledge to share with local sailors here at home as both Taua and Junior are sailing development officers with the sailing club.”

Taua began his sailing summer programme racing in the Sail Melbourne regatta in early December against the world’s top Laser sailors.

He came 30th out of a fleet of 44 top class sailors and says that it was an awesome experience to go head-to-head with the world’s best.

Taua then tested his skills against Australia’s top Laser sailors at the Australia Nationals finishing 24th out of 41.

He says that he wasn’t concerned about his placing in the regatta, as the aim of the local team’s summer programme was to race in as many regattas as possible to learn valuable skills that can only be gained from on-water battles.

In mid January, Taua headed across the ditch to New Zealand to compete in the New Zealand Nationals in Timaru where he came 13th out of 23.

He also came 4th in the under 21 category of the race.

Taua then competed in the Auckland Anniversary regatta before placing 13th in the Sail Auckland regatta plus coming 3rd in the under 21 category.

He was then invited to take part in the third Emerging Nations Programme (ENP) in Perth with acclaimed Australian Olympic sailing coach Arthur Brett.

The programme is designed to assist sailors from emerging sailing nations to take part in the Olympic sailing competition.

The programme also aims to increase the number of competitors at the Sailing World Championships in Perth in 2011.

Taua says that the two-week ENP programme was ‘full on’ sailing.

“I learnt heaps about reading the weather conditions and that was really the key thing that helped me win the Auckland Lasers champs,” says Taua.

His sailing team mate Junior Charlie came 6th in the Laser championships.

The sailing duo is back on Rarotonga and eager to share their newfound skills and tactics with up and coming sailors.

They also hope to return to their northern group island home of Manihiki, where they began their sailing careers, to grow more sailors.

Meanwhile the young men will be taking time out to catch up with families and friends before getting straight back in to training with competitions lined up through the year and next year for the sailors to gain points to qualify and represent the Cook Islands at the 2012 London Olympics – the ultimate goal.