Smooth sail­ing for young com­peti­tor

Central Leader - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

Young yachts­man Alex Wot­ton is mak­ing waves in New Zealand sail­ing.

The 15-year-old Auck­land Gram­mar School stu­dent sailed in to sec­ond place ahead of 54 com­peti­tors at the Star­ling Class North Is­land Cham­pi­onships in Welling­ton this month.

‘‘It was really chal­leng­ing with winds of 30 knots ev­ery day. Some peo­ple had a really tough time and gear break­ages were a big prob­lem,’’ Alex says.

The Mt Eden res­i­dent has been sail­ing since the age of 7 and is hop­ing to one day prove he is worth his salt on the world stage at the Olympics.

Sail­ing is as much a men­tal chal­lenge as it is a phys­i­cal one, Alex says. ‘‘It’s very tac­ti­cal and com­pet­i­tive. ‘‘We’re all mates when we’re train­ing but when we’re out on the water for a com­pe­ti­tion it’s very dif­fer­ent.’’

Alex has a raft of com­pe­ti­tions in the pipe­line, in­clud­ing the 2013 Ju­nior Sail Auck­land on Fe­bru­ary 9 and 10 as part of a 420 team with fel­low Auck­land Gram­mar sailor Wil­liam Linkhorn.

‘‘It looks promis­ing. I think we have a shot at win­ning,’’ Alex says.

Seven­teen-year-old Wil­liam pipped Alex to the post by just one me­tre in the last race of the Auck­land Re­gional Star­ling Match rac­ing tri­als to be­come the Auck­land rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the 2013 na­tional cham­pi­onships held in Auck­land last week.

Any­thing can hap­pen sport, Alex says.

‘‘I wouldn’t change that as­pect at all. It’s good hav­ing that risk.’’

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Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Tough com­pe­ti­tion: Young Mt Eden yachts­man Alex Wot­ton sailed in to sec­ond place ahead of 54 com­peti­tors at the Star­ling Class North Is­land Cham­pi­onships in Welling­ton.

Smooth sail­ing: Alex Wot­ton hopes to one day com­pete at the Olympic Games.

Go to cen­tral­leader.co.nz and click on Lat­est Edi­tion to see a video of the Star­ling Class North Is­land Cham­pi­onship ac­tion.

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