Young sailor joins New Zealand yachting's biggest names after national title win

Sebastian Lardies and sailing partner Scott McKenzie aboard their 29er boat.
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Sebastian Lardies and sailing partner Scott McKenzie aboard their 29er boat.

Sacred Heart College student Sebastian Lardies is on course to be the country's next America's Cup helmsman.

The 17-year-old was crowned New Zealand's most recent national champion in yachtings 29er class earlier this month.

However, winning the national title wasn't what surprised Lardies most.

Sebastian Lardies holds the trophy for winning the national 29er title.
SAM HEWAT/FAIRFAX NZ

Sebastian Lardies holds the trophy for winning the national 29er title.

A quick glance at the trophy showed the name of Team New Zealand  America's Cup trimmer and cyclor and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Blair Tuke.

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Just below him, was 2016 Olympic silver medallists Molly Meech and Alex Maloney.

Blair Tuke, Olympic gold medalist and America's Cup sailor, has his name engraved on the national 29er trophy.
SAM HEWAT/FAIRFAX NZ

Blair Tuke, Olympic gold medalist and America's Cup sailor, has his name engraved on the national 29er trophy.

Being in such prolific company was what really put it into perspective, Lardies said.

"Yeah it was pretty cool I guess," he said.

"It gives you motivation to keep going and pushing yourself to be better."

Lardies started sailing when he was 11 years old, and when he joined the Kohimarama Yacht Club, his talent began to soar.

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He linked up with Glendowie College's Scott McKenzie and the pair started a partnership they hope would mimic that of Tuke and Team New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling.

Tuke and Burling are notorious for setting a record by winning every major regatta - 28 in total - in the 49er class between the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. That included four consecutive world championship titles and an Olympic gold medal.

Burling, at 26 years of age, could become the youngest helmsman to ever win the America's Cup, if he can beat Oracle and skipper Jimmy Spithill - who holds the previous record when he won it at 30.

Lardies and McKenzie's successes were highlighted in a seventh place finish at the 29er World Championships in the Netherlands last year, where they faced competitors more than double their age.

Tuke won the same competition in 2009 when he was 20 years old.

Now, Lardies has the goal of joining Tuke and Burling in the future as he eyes up international sports' oldest trophy.

"My sailing idols are Peter and Blair, just because they've won so much and they've been unbeaten for so long," Lardies said.

"Eventually I want to go to the America's Cup. The new design with new developments and the foiling boats appeals to me more."

Lardies said he wanted to follow a similar pathway to Tuke and Burling, moving up to the 49er class and going to the Olympics before moving into the America's Cup.

He and his sailing partner McKenzie are now preparing for the next world championships in Los Angeles next month.

 - Stuff

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