Young champs regatta hopes
By ADAM HICKS
FORMER Ballina sailor Nick Peate will showcase the skills that won him an Australian Youth sailing team spot when he competes in the Richmond River Sailing and Rowing Club regatta this weekend.
The 17-year-old was recently named Australian Youth sailing team skipper for the 29er class after coming second in the Australian championships and 12th in the world championships while competing against some international sailors with more than 15 years’ experience.
This weekend Peate will take time out from his studies at The Southport School on the Gold Coast and his duties as school sailing captain, to join the 50 boat crews competing in the club’s annual regatta on the Richmond River at Ballina.
For Peate, it is a return to the club and the river where he learnt to sail six years ago.
“It’s just a small event but I still like to support the local home club,” Peate said.
The local club’s regatta will be a relaxed change of pace for Peate, who raced against more than 100 world-class crews at the Australian and world championships.
Peate, and his crewmate Rhys Mara, 17, of Coffs Harbour, both secured positions in the Australian Youth Sailing Team for 2008 after excelling in the open-aged events.
The boys’ 29er class selection depended on points gained from the Australian 29er championships at Safety Beach, Victoria, in December and also the 29er World Championships at Sorrento, which began in early January.
Light and fluky winds dominated the qualifying series of the Australian Championships and only five of the scheduled eight races were finished.
Peate and Mara qualified in third amongst their older and more experienced competitors but continued to chase the leaders on an intense last day of racing.
The crews jostled for the lead throughout the final four races and Peate and Mara eventually finished x just one point behind the Australian champions.
Two days later Peate and Mara went into the 29er World Championships against crews from more than 30 countries and again performed well to go into the finals ranked ninth.
But an equipment failure on the final leg of the seventh heat saw the boys slip from second to 24th.
They were again disappointed in the final race of the series when, despite dominating and being first across the finish line, they were relegated to last for a false start.
The weekend’s regatta is part of Peate’s preparation for the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in Denmark in July, where he and Mara will be the only Australians in the class.
“The experience and results of our first open world championships was a great way to finish what has been an extremely successful couple of months of solid sailing competition for us,” Peate said.
“Despite still being youths, we have been able to show that we are up there with the best in the country and the world in open competition.
“Now we will be aiming for gold at the Youth World Championships in Denmark in July, and defending the Volvo Nations Trophy for Australia.”
Peate and Mara are now on a high-performance training regime which includes coaching from Yachting Australia and the New South Wales Institute of Sport.
Peate will be among other interstate and national visitors at the weekend’s regatta.
There will be five divisions including monohulls, catamarans, trailable sailors and junior divisions, racing three races, over two days.
The regatta also acts as the third heat of the North Coast Travellers series, for the Northbridge Seniors sophisticated 14-foot skiffs, which will attract boats and sailors from Queensland, Grafton and Tarree.
PEATE’S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS.
2008 JAN – Selected as sole Australian male skipper, 29er class, for World Youth Championships.
JAN – Offered a full position in the NSW Institute Of Sport Sailing Squad.
JAN - Nominated for 2008 Ballina Shire Youth Sports Person of the Year.
JAN – 12th Place, World Championships, 29er class (open).
DEC – 1st Place, Sail Brisbane, 29er class (Open).
DEC – 3rd Place, Sydney International Regatta, 29er class (open).
DEC – 2nd Place, Australian Championships, 29er class (open).
NOV – Selected as The Southport School (TSS) 2008 Sailing Vice-Captain, Captain of Teams Racing
MAY – 1st place, Queensland State Championships, 29er class.
APR – Yachting Australia Youth Sailing Team camp.
MAR – GPS Teams Sailing, The Southport School (TSS) ‘A’ team skipper.
FEB – QLD Schools Teams Sailing, The Southport School (TSS) ‘A’ team skipper.
JAN – 5th place, QLD Team, Youth Olympics, Pacer class.
JAN – 3rd place, National Youth Championships, 29er class.
JAN – 16th place, National Championships, 29er class.