Sailing away

PHOTO: DAVID WILLIAMS
PHOTO: DAVID WILLIAMS
Wanaka's Stella Nepia (right) takes to Lake Wakatipu for Saturday's Rilean Construction freshwater O'pen cup - the final leg of a summer circuit.

Competing against her were Auckland's Mathew Rist, left, and Jake South, of Ravensbourne, Dunedin.

Wakatipu Yacht Club rear commodore John Stalker, who is on the New Zealand O'pen Bic Association committee, said the weekend's field included 32 youngsters from across the country and two 12-year-olds from Bermuda.

The dinghies are a fairly new class of boat. Mr Stalker said they were the only junior learn-to-sail skiffs in the world and there were about 100 of the craft in New Zealand.

``Some of [the children] had only been in them twice before they sailed in the weekend,'' he said. ``It's all about fun and training and learning.''

The overall winner was Ravensbourne's Ollie Gilmore, while Queenstown's Jamie Shaw finished second in the under-19 age group.

The group was mentored by six coaches last Friday, including five-times America's Cup winner Sir Russell Coutts, and former top Kiwi sailors Barry McKay, Barry Thom and Hayden Whitburn.

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