Bacon named in NZ sailing team

Sam Bacon blazes a path through the waves

Last updated 05:00 13/08/2014
sam bacon

PLAIN SAILING: Sam Bacon's performances as New Zealand Optimist Championships have seen him become the first Wellingtonian to be selected to race that class at a world championship.

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Sam Bacon hoped for two hours. His father predicted seven. They met somewhere in the middle.

The Scots College year 9 pupil will soon sail into what are uncharted waters for a Wellingtonian. In finishing second at the national optimist championship, in Auckland, the 13-year-old earned himself a berth in the New Zealand team to race at October's Optimist World Championship at San Isidro, Argentina.

Yachting New Zealand are supporting the five-strong team to some extent, but significant fundraising is still required. So, as part of his effort, Bacon set off on a sponsored circumnavigation of Wellington Harbour on Sunday.

"It took me five hours and five minutes," Bacon said.

"It was a real mission. It was so cold and I was really uncomfortable because I was wearing so much gear and I cut my leg the day before playing rugby, so that was stinging."

But that's all part of the appeal of a sport Bacon has loved from the instant his father Jonathan enrolled him at the Worser Bay Boat Club as an 8-year-old.

"I really enjoy the fact that you're so vulnerable to the sea and I enjoy going really fast," said Bacon, who'll graduate from the optimist when he's 15.

Sailing isn't such an easy sport when you're based in Wellington. Auckland's very much its home, to the extent that Bacon's actually a trailblazer.

"I'm the only Wellington sailor to ever make the [optimist] worlds team, so it's a bit of a challenge."

He likes that, plus the variety thrown up by wind and sea conditions. It takes a sharp mind to assess them all, which Bacon believes he has. And a bit of a daredevil streak.

"I'm particularly good at the downward leg. I've been taught by many different coaches and taken into account all their ideas, so I often gain hundreds of metres on that leg."

He has no idea how that ability will translate into results in Argentina. So many variables come into sailing that trying to predict finishes is futile. Your own performance is all you can control.

But Bacon's certain of his ultimate goal, which is to one day race a 49er at the Olympic Games.

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- The Dominion Post


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