Dancer turned sailor off to Italy

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS - MAR­JORIE COOK

Wanaka Yacht Club ju­nior sailor Laura Erich­sen, 16, has been se­lected by Kiwi sail­ing leg­end Sir Rus­sell Coutts to com­pete at the World O’pen Bic Cham­pi­onships at Lake Garda, Italy in July.

Erich­sen be­gan train­ing on Sir Rus­sell’s pro­gramme last year.

She was one of six Wanaka sailors at the Welling­ton O’pen Bic Re­gatta in March, where she won the un­der-19 gold fleet class and was third over­all.

The year 12 Mt Aspir­ing Col­lege stu­dent also has a pas­sion for danc­ing but she is putting that on hold.

Erich­sen will con­tinue in­struct­ing five dance classes a week, in­clud­ing her Game On group of spe­cial needs dancers, while train­ing for the world cham­pi­onships.

‘‘I want a fu­ture in sail­ing. This is a once in a life­time op­por­tu­nity so I am def­i­nitely go­ing all in for it. It is def­i­nitely tak­ing over my life at the mo­ment and I have plenty of peo­ple who are help­ing me out, be­ing re­ally sup­port­ive,’’ she said.

The three day, 50 boat Welling­ton re­gatta was the biggest she had been to.

‘‘I was pretty stoked with how it went. I had been to all the other re­gat­tas and one up north as well, which was pretty good, but I had not done par­tic­u­larly well. But this re­gatta I had worked pretty hard for and ended up third over­all . . . After the prize­giv­ing Rus­sell came over and asked if I would like to go to the world cham­pi­onships in Italy in July and of course I said yes,’’ Erich­sen said.

She is the only girl in a team of five that in­cludes Auck­land’s Mat­tias Coutts and Dunedin trio Ol­lie Gil­mour, Thomas Hamil­ton and Kaya Reese.

Also com­pet­ing strongly in Welling­ton were Wanaka’s Ni­cola San­ders, run­ner-up in the un­der19 gold fleet, and Stel­lar Nepia, win­ner of the un­der-16 sil­ver fleet.

The club’s ju­nior pro­gramme has boomed un­der the charge of ju­nior coach­ing co­or­di­na­tor Craig Fa­hey and coach Barry McKay, com­modore Jeff Mercer said.

The club and spon­sors have pur­chased 10 O’pen Bic boats worth $4000 each.

‘‘It is re­ally strong. We are turn­ing kids away. But don’t worry, we will pick them up later on,’’ Mercer said.

There are 22 ju­niors at level one, 12 at level two and five at ‘‘schol­ar­ship’’ level.

Fa­hey is also ar­rang­ing a new team sail­ing class.

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