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NZ Youth National Champions 2018

Last Sunday 16th December marked a personal milestone with our team winning the New Zealand Youth National Championships for 2018.

The championships were hosted by the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in a match racing format, with eight teams competing in the club's fleet of Elliot 6m sportsboats. As usual, it was an invitation-only event and I was fortunate to be selected to compete with a great group of fellow sailors from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Ably lead by Oakley Marsh, whom I have sailed with before, it was a fantastic way to finish off a great year in New Zealand.

The match racing format was the same as in previous events with every team competing against each other in the early rounds; the successful crews progressing into the finals. This type of elimination racing is always close, with wins often the result of the smallest of errors by the opposition. Coming from Australia with a background of fleet racing, it has been an exhilarating ride learning all the nuances of close-knit competition. I feel that I have gained so much experience since starting in this form of racing and it has really highlighted how important all those little 'one-percents' can be.

There were some very experienced crews competing at this event, being a National Championship, yet despite making a predictable number of small errors that are inevitable in this type of racing, we were always confident in our speed and boat-handling and never felt out of the race until the final gun. The feeling after crossing the finishing line for the last time and realising that you have finished on top is an exhilarating one that is hard to describe outside of your fellow comrades-in-arms. It is a feeling of mixed emotions: on the one hand you feel incredibly happy yet on the other, there is a sense of disbelief that it is finally over and you have won!

Of course, none of this would have been possible without a close-knit crew and I feel very lucky to have sailed with such a great bunch of people. Throughout the event we grew as a team and got stronger as the racing progressed and Oakley did an amazing job on the helm. I would also like to thank again the amazing team at RNZYS and their wonderful program.

I'm looking forward to a few days off to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with family and friends and have so many exciting plans for 2019; I cannot wait to share them all with you. I intend to post an update on the Musto Internationals, another great event held in Sydney earlier this month, and apologise for not posting it earlier. With all the travel, constant preparation, competitions and work I have had little time to keep you all up to date.

As always, thank you to everyone for your love and support; it means the world to me. Have a wonderful Christmas, stay safe and I wish you all a prosperous and exciting 2019.

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