Luck of the Irish sends Two RNZYS teams to Youth Match Racing World Championships

 In International Events, Match Racing, News

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will be well represented this year’s Youth Match Racing World Championships, with the crew of Maeve White, George Angus, Henry Angus, Max McLachlan and Jack Manning joining New Zealand qualifier Robbie McCutcheon in Pornichet, France this July. White is the top ranked youth skipper that sails for Ireland due to her dual citizenship, so the 5 New Zealander’s will be sailing under an Irish flag and RNZYS burgee. 

“I have only represented New Zealand up until starting match racing” said White, “but as the highest ranked Irish youth match racer, we received an invitation to compete. Although my whole team are all kiwis and members of RNZYS we are all excited to represent Ireland. I was born and mainly raised in New Zealand, I lived in Ireland for a decent portion of my childhood as my mum is Irish”.  

White (right) and her team at the New Zealand Match Racing Championship – William Woodworth/RNZYS

Despite separate nations being represented, all members of White and McCutcheon’s teams have graduated from RNZYS Youth Training Programme. Both crews are looking to train in France before the regatta and with them being good friends, but the friendships will go out the window in pursuit of a World Championship title.

“It’s definitely a big opportunity that we would not have been lucky enough to come by without the Youth Training Program and RNZYS, the mechanisms and resources in place to support youth sailing and the opportunities that come with it are impressive”, says White. 

“There’s no firm plans yet, but I am sure we will cross paths and end up doing a bit of training against each other at some point – it will be good to see some familiar faces up there”. 

“We are looking forward to spending a few days in Paris getting acclimatized prior to the event, we are still working on lining up some training on the boats as none of us have sailed J80s before”. 

White and her Harken Youth International team chasing down Jack Littlechild’s CYCA team – William Woodworth/RNZYS

With Maeve’s 2nd place finish in the New Zealand Women’s Match Racing Championship and consistent performances throughout the 2021-22 season at the Auckland Match Racing Championship and Harken Youth International Match Racing Championship, she’s been at the head the next generation of women’s youth sailors. 

“Personally, I still consider myself pretty new to helming with not a lot of team consistency over the last few years which has made it difficult to settle into process and really capitalize on the resources on offer – but I’m lucky to have such a good team travelling for the event”. 

“I think it’s exciting that as a female I am one of the two entries out of the RNZYS, it’s a credit to the opportunities that are available for female sailing at the RNZYS. It’s definitely a big event to be competing in all things considered but I back the team and am looking forward to big developments that will come through this experience helming”. 

The team was only notified recently that they would be part of the event, so have had to scramble to organize their travel and training. “In all honesty it’s been reasonably frantic getting organized, we haven’t competed as a team before so we are trying to squeeze in as much training as we can before we leave in early July”. 

Understandably though, it isn’t cheap for the team to take part with plenty of travel and regatta costs adding up.  

“Due to the limited time frame we have been working hard to fund this trip in the most economical manner as we are all students or new to the workforce – we’ve been working with some potential sponsors in gaining assistance, however we are very open to any support at any level”. 

White leading Megan Thomson in the pre-start of their New Zealand Women’s Match Racing Championship final – William Woodworth/RNZYS

 So far this season, Maeve, George, Henry, Max and Jack have been doing a lot of sailing while developing their skills in boat positions. 

 “Jack, Max and myself recently competed at the CenterPort Regatta representing the Youth Training Programme while switching up positions, which was a good learning experience. We’ve all been competing in all the match racing regattas held at the Squadron as well” said White. 

Maeve, George and Henry also competed in the New Zealand Open Teams Racing Championship, where Maeve’s Kiwi Team Racing squad beat out George and Henry’s RNZYS team to win their 5th title in a row. However, the move back to match racing in unfamiliar boats on unfamiliar water will be a challenge for the team – but it’s nothing new for White and her crew.

“We, of course, aim to be competitive and place as well as we can. It’s a great opportunity to get back into some international racing after Covid and to sail a new class of boat, and I think that learning as much about the boats as fast as we can is going to be one of our biggest challenges”. 

Maeve has faith in her team’s competitive nature and sailing skill. “The team’s experience as individuals in competing will be a big strength, and we have all had a lot of experience working in a team environment successfully which will prove to be an asset”. 

Despite the team having a quick turnaround to get organized, they’re ready to join the New Zealand team on the start line and can’t wait to be out on the water against fellow world-class youth sailors.

If you are interested in helping the next generation of Kiwi high-performance sailors take on the best the world has to offer this year, contact Maeve at mhealywhite@gmail.com.    

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