Coutts runs Wanaka sailing clinic

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FIVE-TIME WIN­NER of the Amer­ica’s Cup and Olympic gold medal­list Sir Rus­sell Coutts held a coach­ing clinic for ju­nior sailors on Lake Wanaka in Novem­ber. He was joined by Wanaka-based for­mer Team New Zealand team­mates Barry Mckay and Hamish Pep­per, also an Olympian. The trio last sailed to­gether in the 2000 Amer­ica’s Cup cam­paign.

It was the first time the O’pen Bic youth sailing pro­gramme had come to the Wanaka Yacht Club.

Mckay, who re­tired from pro­fes­sional sailing in 2007, says the Bic boats are mak­ing a big dif­fer­ence in open­ing up sailing as a sport to young peo­ple. “Hamish and I are also pas­sion­ate about grow­ing youth sailing and prov­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for kids who wouldn’t nor­mally sail. The Bic boats are re­ally user-friendly for novice sailors.”

Coutts, Mckay and Pep­per, along with other mem­bers of the Wanaka Yacht Club, worked with 15 young Wanaka, Queen­stown and Te Anau sailors aged be­tween 11 and 17, teach­ing them tech­niques on and off the wa­ter. There were 10 Bic boats on the lake. Wanaka Yacht Club is cur­rently rais­ing money to pur­chase four boats this sum­mer and another four boats next year.

“The boats are good for learn­ing – you can cap­size them with­out swamp­ing, and they’re fast and ex­cit­ing to sail. They’re also rel­a­tively easy for clubs to main­tain,” Coutts says. Lake Wanaka Yacht Club coaches and for­mer Team New Zealand sailors Barry Mckay (left) and Hamish Pep­per (cen­tre), with ju­nior sailors Luke Burke (sec­ond-left) and Laura Erich­sen, and Wanaka Yacht Club Youth Sailing Co­or­di­na­tor Craig Fa­hey at Wanaka Yacht Club with a Bic boat.

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