Schoolmates, crewmates set sail for China

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 07/08/2014
sailing regatta
CHARLOTTE CURD/ Fairfax NZ

GONE LIKE THE WIND: Eli Goodkind, left and George Clarke, both 12, are off to China for a sailing regatta.

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Two Oakura 12-year-olds are off to China for a week's sailing.

Eli Goodkind and George Clarke sail Optimists with the New Plymouth Yacht Club and on Sunday head to Qingdao for a regatta.

Two other Kiwi youngsters - one from Christchurch and the other from Oamaru - are also going, as are Eli's mum Hilary, and Dave, George's father.

Selection was based on sailors who were interested and available to travel to the regatta. It's more cultural than a competitive event, George said.

When his parents told him about the opportunity he thought "whooa, China. I'm not really sure. The first thing I did was ring up my mate Eli and told him about it. We talked about it at school and then we decided, yeah why not?"

All they needed was the airfare. The regatta organisers are paying for their hotel and food and providing the boats. The boys just have to take a sail, George said.

Optimists are small single-handed sailing dinghies.

They are not bothered about sailing in different conditions, because the winds might not be as strong in China, but Eli said the currents were quite different, so they had been practising.

In China they will have one practiCe day and then four days sailing against other kids.

Eli likes sailing because it's fun.

"And you have to control your own boat and think for yourself."

George enjoys the "thrill" of being out on the water and while he wouldn't mind taking the gold, he's not that bothered if he ends up in the middle of the field, he said.

Qingdao International Optimist Sailing Camp and Regatta 2014 will be held from August 14 to 21.

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