Four years on top for Napier Girls' sailors

The teams racing sailing group from Napier Girls' High School with co-coach Nigel Mannering.
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The teams racing sailing group from Napier Girls' High School with co-coach Nigel Mannering.

A team of Napier girls have sailed through blisters, bruises and the odd capsized vessel to retain a top national title.

The Napier Girls' High School team racing sailing group won the women's division at the sport's high school championship for the fourth year in a row; this was also the seventh time the school has won the title since it was created 14 years ago. 

At the end of April the team of seven travelled to Sandspit Yacht Club in Algies Bay north of Auckland for the annual competition.

They sail in teams of six, with pairs split between three 4-20 boats, a vessel slightly larger than an optimist yacht.

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The goal is for each team to score the highest overall points by beating the other team's three boats to the finish.

For the team of Hazel Mannering, 17, Zarah Otto, 15, Lauren Haswell, 16, Ana Murphy, 16, Anneke Mayhead, 17, Brianna Otto, 17, and Nina Mannering, 13, found the sport through a family interest in sailing.

They described it as both physically and mentally challenging, with a need to make quick tactical decisions.

 Coaches Philipp Otto and Nigel Mannering agreed the sport was about 70 per cent strategy and about 30 per cent physicality.

"It's also very intuitive," Mannering said. "There's a feel to the boat and some people just can't get that."

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This season the girls have also had some accidents on the route to their win, like capsizing a boat at the national event in front of a barge of other teams or one pair sailing over a marker then dragging it behind them..

The team trains every Wednesday during the summer season, with many also involved with the  Napier Sailing Club.

For the girls being part of the team and the social aspects were just as enjoyable as racing.

"Because it's a pretty niche sport all the same people go to every regatta," Briana said. "We know all the competition, but we also get on really well with them."

With the new title under the team's belt they have also packed away the boats for winter but will return to the water when the season resumes in September.

 - Stuff

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