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Young sailor makes waves

Friday 31 December 2010 | Published in Regional

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Aitutaki sailor Aquila Tatira is making waves this week at the Australian Laser Championships in New South Wales placing third in the Laser 4.7 class after two races on day one of the competition.

Tatira is one of five local sailors racing in the Australian national regatta including Taua Eliza and Helema Williams who are racing in the Laser standard rig and Laser radial class vessels – both are also Olympic class vessels.

Toka Narayan and Teau McKenzie join Tatira in the Laser 4.7 class races.

Day one of the Australian Laser championships on Wednesday saw between 16 to 20 knot winds whip up short sharp chop creating a gruelling upwind leg that tested the fitness and technique of the sailors.

The boys dominate the Laser 4.7 leader board with Benjamin Walkemeyer from WA scoring a first and second to take the lead by one point from Tasmania’s Dylan Gore with Aqulia Tatira from the Cook Islands in third place. Tatira was excited about the day from the moment he saw the white caps on the water before launching.

“I knew it was going to be a good day! My weight is suited to the boat in these conditions and I am used to strong winds from sailing at home in Aitutaki but there, the waves are nice and smooth, not like here where it is very choppy and the current has a big effect making it challenging.”

Tatira says that he loves the Laser class because “it’s an Olympic class and it is my dream to compete in the Olympic Games!” After the five-day regatta – Taua Eliza and Helema Williams will put on their managers’ hats as Tatira, McKenzie and Narayan race in the Australian Junior National Champions regatta.

The team will then travel to New Zealand where they will sail in the New Zealand National Championships starting on January 21 and the Sail Auckland regatta starting on February 2.

Every race the local sailors compete in takes them closer to their ultimate goal of racing for the Cook Islands at the Olympics.