Pictured at the New Zealand slalom windsurfing
championships on the Otago Harbour yesterday were (from
left) Harry Reed, Luke Watson and Laurence Carey. Team
captain Jim Rodgers is in front. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Jim Rodgers is a semiretired Auckland dentist with a
passion for windsurfing.
Rodgers (60) is in Dunedin this week for the New Zealand
slalom championships on Otago Harbour. Rodgers has reached
GPS speeds of 36 knots, equating to about 66kmh.
''I like the wind-powered speed, rather than anything with
motors,'' he said.
''I like the freedom you have. The type of work I do is quite
high-stressed and windsurfing is a natural release.
''On the water I am concentrating on sailing and my mind goes
free. It is very relaxing.''
Rodgers goes windsurfing four or five days each week if there
''Now that I'm semiretired I look at the weather map and plan
my work schedule as a dentist,'' he said. ''I finish work
early in the afternoon and then go to the beach to rig up my
windsurfer and train.''
He is one of a record 48 windsurfers competing in the 10th
national championships to be held in the city.
Dunedin is a popular spot for the event with its
northeasterly breeze that livens up the harbour. It is the
ninth successive event to be held in the city and Rodgers has
been to the last seven.
Rodgers has always enjoyed extreme sports. He was a
whitewater kayaker in his youth and became a keen sailor in
the dinghy and keeler class after immigrating to New Zealand
from Northern Ireland in 1977.
''I like the speed and the technical side of the sport,'' he
''You can also train on your own and don't have to worry
about other crew members.
''In slalom racing the board designs are very intricate in
shape and form. We have different-sized sails for different
A skilled operator can make significant improvements by
tuning the sails and battens and by varying the tension that
is put on a sail.
Rodgers started windsurfing in 1994 and in the last 19 years
he has had a few serious crashes and injuries.
The most serious injury came after a crash in the national
speed championships in 1997.
''I had a partial neural thorax. My lung came away from the
He has had other serious injuries.
''I had my cruciate ligament removed from both knees when my
feet got stuck in straps on the waves,'' he said. He also had
shoulder injuries and had five stitches inserted for a bad
cut on his forehead.
''I'm getting older but I don't think I'm getting more
sensible. I still tend to push myself pretty hard. The
injuries are part and parcel of this extreme sport.
''I'd like to think that I will still be windsurfing in my
late 60s. The passion is still there. It's just about my body
Rodgers formed the Team 10 windsurfing club in Auckland and
three other club members have joined him for the
championships in Dunedin.
They are Harry Reed, Luke Watson and Laurence Carey. The best
performed has been Carey (19), who won the junior men's title
in Dunedin last year and was third in the open event.
Because of the lack of wind, no racing was possible on the
Otago Harbour yesterday. But officials are confident of
completing the championships today and tomorrow.