Dunedinite sails to national victory

Jenny
Armstrong. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Jenny Armstrong. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Former Olympic gold medallist Jenny Armstrong brought a national title home to Dunedin last weekend.

She won the Radial masters title at the Laser national sailing championships at the Worser Bay Boating Club in Wellington.

Armstrong claimed both the women’s and overall masters titles, beating Phil Wild (Manly Sailing Club) on countback.

The title came after a false start in 2019, when a mountain biking knee injury ruled her out of the competition.

She had surgery that Christmas, was walking again in February and had returned to sailing by June.

The fitness work she had done during her rehabilitation had been key to her victory.

Her experience — which included finishing fourth for New Zealand at the 1992 Olympics and winning gold for Australia in the 2000 Sydney Games — had been crucial as well.

"I think where my advantage is now is that I have raced a lot of times and been in most of these situations before so I have a lot of that to draw on," she said.

"When it gets sticky, I don’t panic and just sail each race as it comes. I just had to do the basics right and let the others make the mistakes.

"I just knew I had to win the [last] race. Phil was leading at the top mark, and was generally faster upwind all week, and I had the legs on him downwind sometimes, so I got him on the first downwind.

"I then ... made sure he wasn’t going to sail around me on the next upwind.

"All the fitness work was actually coming into its own."

Originally from Dunedin, Armstrong spent time in both Australia and Canada, before returning to Dunedin in 2016.

Alongside continuing to sail in the masters grade, which she has a loose plan to compete in at world championships level one day, she also coaches in the sport.

Her 15-year-old son Zach Stibbe was also in action.

He finished 16th overall in the Laser Radial fleet and was a valuable training partner for Armstrong as she worked back to full fitness.

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