Russell Coutts sailing into Wanaka

Sir Russell Coutts spent time in September teaching O'Pen Bic boat skills to these Kerikeri junior sailors.
BAYLEY MOOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Sir Russell Coutts spent time in September teaching O'Pen Bic boat skills to these Kerikeri junior sailors.

Sir Russell Coutts joins forces with Wanaka sailing identities Barry McKay and Hamish Pepper to run a coaching clinic on Lake Wanaka on November 5.

The trio last sailed together during Team New Zealand's successful defence of the America's Cup in 2000.

Coutts, a five-time winner of the America's Cup and Olympic gold medallist, is bringing 10 O'Pen Bic boats to Wanaka.

Wanaka sailors Barry McKay, Luke Burke, Hamish Pepper, Laura Erichsen, Craig Fahey with an O'Pen Bic boat.
Celia Crosbie

Wanaka sailors Barry McKay, Luke Burke, Hamish Pepper, Laura Erichsen, Craig Fahey with an O'Pen Bic boat.

His youth sailing programme is travelling the country and this is the first time it has visited the Wanaka Yacht Club. 

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Coutts inspires next generation of sailors

The club is raising money to purchase eight boats - four this summer and four next year. 

Young sailors test O'Pen Bic boats on Lake Wanaka.
Celia Crosbie

Young sailors test O'Pen Bic boats on Lake Wanaka.

McKay, a former Dunedinite, was a Team New Zealand stalwart and retired from professional sailing in 2007. He now lives in Wanaka.

Pepper, a four-times Olympian and former world champion, still sails professionally and moved to Wanaka from Auckland a few years ago.

McKay said he invited Coutts to Wanaka because he had noticed the difference Coutts and the Bic boats were making in opening up the sport to young people around the country.

Sir Russell Coutts will hold a coaching clinic for junior sailors at Lake Wanaka on November 5.
SUPPLIED

Sir Russell Coutts will hold a coaching clinic for junior sailors at Lake Wanaka on November 5.

"Hamish and I are also passionate about growing youth sailing and proving opportunities for kids who wouldn't normally sail. The Bic boats are really user-friendly for novice sailors."

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Up to 15 young sailors from Wanaka, Queenstown and Te Anau will learn techniques on and off the water.

Coutts says the boats are good to learn in.

"You can capsize them without swamping, and they're fast and exciting to sail. They're also relatively easy for clubs to maintain," he said.

Lake Wanaka was fantastic for sailing, he said.

"It has a strong thermal breeze in summer that makes sailing particularly good, plus there's a great variety of conditions and it's a safe environment to learn how to sail."

Coutts is preparing for the 2017 America's Cup in Bermuda as the CEO of the America's Cup Event Authority.

Wanaka Yacht Club's youth sailing coordinator Craig Fahey said it was an honour to have Coutts share his expertise with the club.

"The Wanaka Yacht Club is committed to becoming a centre of excellence for youth sailing in the South Island and having Russell come to help us this weekend is a significant step in the right direction," Fahey said.

Queenstown hosts the 2016-17 Freshwater O'Pen Cup from January 27-29. 

The O'Pen Bic boat is a single handed sailboat developed by Vitali Design and launched in 2006.

It is a recognised international class boat.

 - Stuff

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