Fran­cis charts steady course across Pa­cific

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

Jono Fran­cis’ mother might not be happy about his up­com­ing South Pa­cific cross­ing, but the young man is chomp­ing at the bit to get aboard Stein­lager 2.

The Whitby 18-year-old has been sail­ing for much of his life, learn­ing his craft in the op­ti­mist and star­ling classes at Pare­mata and Plim­mer­ton boat­ing clubs.

Lately he has been crew­ing on the larger keel­boats out of the Royal Port Ni­chol­son Yacht Club.

‘‘I tried cricket and rugby when I was younger, but I was pretty use­less,’’ he said.

‘‘I saw a news­pa­per ad­vert to have a go at sail­ing when I was about 8 and have been do­ing it ever since.’’

This Satur­day, Fran­cis will be one of the youngest crew mem­bers on Stein­lager 2 for a 1200-nau­ti­cal mile race from Auck­land to Fiji.

Stein­later 2, nick­named Big Red, was Peter Blake’s boat when he won ev­ery leg of the 1989-90 Whit­bread round-the­world race.

The skip­per of the fa­mous maxi yacht – re­fit­ted at a cost of $850,000 – will be Blake’s son-in-law, Alistair Moore.

Fran­cis ap­plied to be a crew­man through the New Zealand Sail­ing Trust and was de­lighted to be ac­cepted. For some­one who hopes to be a pro­fes­sional yach­st­man, the ex­pe­ri­ence will be in­valu­able.

‘‘It’s the ul­ti­mate for some­one like me and I’m grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity.

‘‘ Off­shore rac­ing is quite new to me and that en­vi­ron­ment [up to 7-me­tre swells] can be tough, but I can’t wait.

‘‘Mum’s a bit ner­vous about it, but I’m on an 82-foot (24 me­tres) maxi punch­ing through the wa­ter. We’ll be OK.’’

Fran­cis said his role will be as a bow­man on Stein­lager 2. He an­tic­i­pated the race would take about six days. Boats will be hand­i­capped, but he hoped they would be near the front.

Wa­ter­borne: Jono Fran­cis in ac­tion in his Laser at the Plim­mer­ton Re­gatta this year.

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