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Sailing makes you patient
In 2008 we moved from Pakuranga to Kohimarama. I noticed the Kohimarama Yacht club, a lonely grey wooden structure on the beach front of Tamaki Drive between St Heliers and Kohimarama. I did not expect that in the 10 years to come, we would be so involved with them.
My daughter Crystal joined the club when she was 10, now 18, she’s been to Noumea, Cook Islands, Holland and California attending sailing regattas. New Zealand sent 13 boats (26 sailors) to the US Championships. Seb and Scott took first place and Crystal placed 3rd amongst the girls. She is now trialing to be selected for the Youth World Champs.
My younger son Sean started hanging around the club with a bunch of little kids when he was five. Hiding under the deck and poking whoever’s standing in the deck above was their favorite game. Sean started sailing when he was eight and had been selected for the NZ junior training team and traveled to Noumea for training. Late September he will attend the Asian Championships in Hong Kong with the NZ Team.
Most kids started their sailing experience with a class called ‘Optimist’. It looks like a bath tub and is a perfect class for little kids from eight years old. It is easy to handle and economic, a brand new boat costs around $6-7k. When they grow up, they move on to Starling and Laser (single hand), or two helmsmen class 29er, 49er, or 420, or a bigger boat such as a keelboat. Each class has national and international racing opportunities. Yachting New Zealand governs the rules and selections around the regional, national and international racing with a well-established system.
Take Optimist as an example; the Optimist Association maintains a national ranking according to sailor’s result in each ranking regatta. At the end of the season, from the top 30ish ranked sailors, teams to represent NZ are selected. The top five are selected for the World Champ Team competing on behalf of NZ; the next five against Europe and further down to against North America and Asia (including Oceania).
Sailing is not just a sporting activity for kids. The long hours of training and many races around the country and overseas have helped to establish a bunch of closely-linked sailors. They socialise with each other on and offline. Often while waiting for the wind, they’ll spend time on the beach playing games.
The toughness associated with this sport physically and mentally is also good training for kids. A racing day could start at 9am and finish at 5pm. Floating in the sea in a little dingy boat with back to back races scheduled are tough. Capsize and get back, the up and down of places in races and the emotional moment of joy and disappointment all adds up to toughen up kids physically and emotionally. The countless hours of training, setting up their boat, packing away boats, managing gear, watching their nutrition, etc, encourages patience. There are no electronic gages on the boat and it’s a big plus for parents as they get their kids away from phones, tablets and computers.
Click here to find out more about the Kohimarama Yacht Club, click here.