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Wednesday 9 February 2011 | Published in Regional

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National sailors had a full on race calendar over the Christmas and New Year period with the local team competing in the New Zealand Laser nationals and the Sail Auckland regatta.

In between the demanding events, sailing coach Anne Tierney reports that the local crew of Teau McKenzie, Aquila Tatira, Taua Eliza, Junior Charlie and Helema Williams had just two days off from sailing.

The squad gathered together on January 25 at Torbay to move the boats (Lasers and RIB) to Takapuna.

The Lasers sailed down to Takapuna as part of their training exercise in very challenging conditions as Cyclone Wilma spent her fury on the gulf and seaside suburbs, while the team transferred the rubber duckie and one of the Lasers by road.

Each day the old training cycle was re-established with sailors getting up early to do a stretch session, a big breakfast, and prepare food and drinks for on the water training.

The weather was really challenging ranging from light winds of 5 knots to around 15 knots with gusts.

The usual tricky combination in the Hauraki Gulf area of strong tides and currents plus offshore winds with all the flukey wind shifts kept all the fleets on their toes – conditions not for those without concentration.

In the Olympic Laser men’s division Taua Elisa finished in 19th place – a very creditable performance against a top fleet from NZ and Australia.

Junior Charlie was 23rd, and with more work on body weight and conditioning he’ll easily be up a few places.

Only two or three other young sailors in this group who have been sailing the same time were ahead of them.

This is the first year that Eliza and Charlie have competed in the open section as they both turn 21 this year, therefore they are competing against sailors with up to more than ten years of experience.

Sail Auckland is one of the qualifying regattas for New Zealand Olympic Laser representative and competition was hot.

Helema Williams placed 23rd in the open division and 4th in the women’s Laser radial division while Aitutaki sailor Aquila Tatira placed 28th in the open men’s division and 16th in the youth divison.

Teau McKenzie came 36th overall and 3rd in the youth female division.

Coach Laura Baldwin was pleased with their performances as the new techniques are kicking in. She will travel to the Cooks to be in Aitutaki from mid March to May for continuing preparation for the Pacific Games and World Laser Championships in the bid to qualify for the Olympic Games, London 2012.

The Laser Squad returned to the Cooks after intense and top competitions with a personalised fitness and nutrition plan plus a refreshed determination to improve their standings.