'Work hard, it'll take you places'

17:00, Aug 13 2013
Artemis
SETTING SAIL: Artemis flying fast and above water.

Small town boy Alister Herald has landed his dream job working in the America's Cup. The determined Dargaville boat-builder has a strong message for other hands-on people like himself.

"If you are like me and hate schoolwork hang in there . . . work hard and it will take you awesome places one day."

That sort of thinking has certainly paid off for Alister Herald who is now part of the shore crew for Artemis Racing in the prestigious America's Cup regatta in San Francisco.

alister herald
Alister Herald

The composite boat-builder works on modifications and repairs to the 22- metre (72-foot) carbon hulls and the wing mast made of light-weight carbon fibre.

But the 24-year-old says living his dream has not been easy.

"We have been doing some big hours for the last two months after the catastrophic setback of our first boat capsizing and breaking up, leading to the tragic loss of our team member Andrew Simpson," he says.

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The 150-man team worked long nights getting a second boat to the start line.

"I never thought 60 hours would be a short week but it's like anything - you get out what you put in," Alister says.

The final for the 2013 America's Cup will be on September 21.

Alister has been building boats for almost 20 years.

The Dargaville resident helped his father Dave Herald build a small sailing dingy called Firebug when he was about 5 years old.

"I built many other projects out in the shed - big, small, crazy and silly, anything that had a boat or sailing theme," he says.

Alister says boat building brought him a satisfaction he never found at school.

"I struggled with English, maths and science but loved hands-on projects in the shed," he says.

"On the farm at age 11 I started home schooling which was very good for me.

"It gave me one-on-one time that I was not getting and I learnt so much more in the outdoors on the farm and in the shed with Dad."

His first boat-building job was with Austral Yachts in Whangarei where he worked two days a week while completing a NorthTec course.

Alister completed his apprenticeship working on new builds and refit work.

It did not take long for his potential to be recognised and by the end of 2011 he'd landed a job working on the AC45 World Tour fixing boats during regattas in San Diego, Naples, Venice, Italy, Newport and San Francisco.

"From 1995, the first cup I remember, I had always thought ‘that's where I want to be'," Alister says.

"This must be pretty close to a dream job because I don't dream of a better one anymore - maybe just a holiday now and then to get some graveyard snapper."

He can't see his passion fading any time soon.

"I'm not too sure what I love about boat building," Alister says.

"There is so much to learn every day, these boats are so far ahead of what I was doing when I first started."

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