Coutts coaches colts

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About 30 young sailors, mentored by five-times America’s Cup winner Sir Russell Coutts, will compete in new-style O’pen Bic dinghies on Lake Wakatipu over the next three days.

The Freshwater O’pen Cup is the final leg of a summer circuit which started in Wanaka early this month and continued with the national O’pen Bic championships in Dunedin last weekend.

Wakatipu Yacht Club rear commodore John Stalker, who’s on the New Zealand O’pen Bic Association committee, says the boats, with distinctive white and red sails, are easy to sail, very fast and very competitive.

Competitors on the circuit include two 12-year-olds from Bermuda – the venue for this year’s America’s Cup.

Four Wakatipu Yacht Club sailors, Jamie Shaw, Jack Wilson, Jasper Cusiel and Marlo Molgat, are also competing in this weekend’s Rilean Construction-sponsored event.

The club has four O’pen Bic boats and is bringing in others from Dunedin, Wanaka and Te Anau for the regatta.

The competitors, aged nine to 19, will be mentored tomorrow morning by six coaches including Coutts and former top Kiwi sailors Barry McKay, Barry Thom and Hayden Whitburn.

Races, mostly on Frankton Arm, will be held tomorrow afternoon and on Saturday, followed by some fun racing on Sunday.

“We’re trying to bring the fun back into sailing, so we don’t quite play by all the rules,” Stalker says.

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