Dancer turned sailor off to Italy
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.