This past week Kerikeri High School’s sailors have been celebrating winning the Open Team title for sixth time in the past seven years at the recent New Zealand Secondary School Team Sailing Nationals at Algies Bay, north of Auckland.
Kerikeri High School produced a series of consistent performances in both light and heavy conditions throughout the week-long round-robin regatta, to win the Open Team event, the Maersk Sealand Trophy.
In a field of 31 teams entered, Kerikeri finished second in all their round-robin races and won gold, ahead of Kristin School in silver and Wentworth College with the bronze.
The top girls’ team was again Napier Girls High School, followed by Diocesan School for Girls and New Plymouth Girl’s High School third.
The top three open and girls’ teams respectively are invited to race against the top three counterparts from the Australian Nationals. This year’s event is being held in New Zealand in late September – and Kerikeri High School will be defending their Open Team inter-dominion title.
Kerikeri High School’s manager Ian Harris explained the key race of the regatta:
“It came down to our third from last race on the last day against Kristen and either team could have taken out the regatta on the result of this one race,” he said.
“We had a bad start but came back to take a narrow win, so the race was agonising to watch and the culmination of increasing tension during the week as it was the closest nationals for a long time. Any one of four or five teams could have been where we ended up and there was no such thing as an easy race across the whole of the gold fleet this year.”
Ian praised Kerikeri’s team members for their performance on the water and their commitment off it in reaching this goal.
“The sailors, starting with the skippers, were Frankie Dair (Captain), Jack Bunce, Lewis Kidmanm, and crew, Francis Cassells, Emilie Jones, Amber Hookway, Maeve White and Chris Geerkins. Frankie Dair showed good leadership and is being actively chased by the RNZYS youth training programme but has agreed to stay with our squad for another year.”
Competition within the squad is also key to their success.
“We are the only school in the country that can field two teams at nationals and it is this depth that has meant we have coped with the challenge of half the open team leaving for each of the last two years.
“Also we are incredibly lucky to have Reuben Corbett as our coach. Reuben is a past Kerikeri High School student and is ranked in the top 10 match racers worldwide and is a big part of our success.”
Over the winter Kerikeri’s sailors will be racing at Kerikeri Cruising Club centreboard regattas before training starts again in the lead up to the series against Australia in September and also crewing on the keelboats that race that race locally.
Kerikeri High School has forged a strong tradition – winning more nationals more than any other school in the country in the 31 years that team sailing has been in New Zealand.
The event was introduced to New Zealand by Derry Godbert who is now in his 80’s and still actively coaching the Kerikeri High School’s Girls’ team.
“Over the last seven years Kerikeri only missed first place last year when we came second. It is an indication of the legacy that our team last year was disappointed to miss out on first but this was eased by going on to win in Australia against the top three Aussie teams and the other top New Zealand teams.
“I believe that part of our ongoing success is due to the culture of past sailors coming back to race against the team in their final training sessions, this gives the team competition at a very high level that not many other schools can provide their teams.
“Part of our history is having Olympic sailors such as Alex Maloney, Sharon Ferris and of course Blair Tuke who comes back to help when he can find the time. Other sailors have gone on to make careers in, for example, cruise ships so the current sailors are aware that there is a career path that can be found after the start that team sailing can provide.”
2016 New Zealand Secondary School Team Sailing Nationals (24-29 April)
Top three Open Team finishers:
1st: Kerikeri High School
2nd: Kristin School
3rd: Wentworth College
Top three Girls’ Team finishers:
1st: Napier Girls’ High School
2nd: Diocesan School for Girls
3rd: New Plymouth Girls’ High School
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