Next Generation of RNZYS Performance Programme Foiler’s Ready and Prepared to Fly.

 In International Events, Major Regattas, News, Performance Programme

With the recent announcement of the 37th Youth and Women’s America’s Cup in the new AC40 foiling classes the RNZYS’s best and brightest young sailors are targeting more international competitions, with the latest being Niall Malone, Serena Woodall, Ollie Gilmore, and Oliver Lloyd.

Their new focus shifts to the Youth Foiling Gold Cup (YFGC), an international youth circuit dedicated to mixed/ female teams of 3 or 4 sailors between 18-25 from across the world. The YFGC uses the latest generation fast foiling monohull boats in the Persico 69F, an innovative race format to create a globally leading arena for the world’s best youth foiling sailors to test themselves.

The YFGC will take place across Europe and the United States in 4 Acts and a finals series, with Act 1 in Miami from the 4th to the 10th of February 2022. For each event, crews from all over the world take part in warm-up, qualification, and knock-out series before finals. Niall and his team plan to take part in the whole 4-event circuit to earn an invite to the YFGC Finals later in 2022. With so many sailing events being cancelled, including the 36th Youth America’s Cup, the YFGC offers a unique event where youth sailors from all over the world come together, to share and learn from each other and develop long lasting friendships. 

The YFGC regattas are “very important competitions to be a part of; not only is the 69F one of the newest class of one design foiling mono hulls which will help build a background for the AC40, but it is also this kind of high performance event that professional teams will look at for up and coming talent,” says Niall Malone, the skipper of the 69F crew.

“I think our expectations are high in terms of what we gain to learn from these boats but we aren’t putting pressure on ourselves, many of the other teams will have had a lot of time in the boats and have done the 2021 season. Our goal will be to focus on learning and then as we improve, the results will come.”

Niall Malone skippering a Elliott 7 in breezy conditions at the New Zealand Match Racing Championship. Source – RNZYS

This crew are looking forward to dedicated time in the 69F, having far more experience off the foils. “I started sailing just playing around in dinghies, but it wasn’t until I was in high school and gave racing on keel boats a go that I began taking it more seriously,” says Niall. “From there I joined the Mastercard Youth Training Programme (YTP) which lead on to the RNZYS Performance Programme (PP), I have mostly focused on racing TP52’s & Match Racing so the 69F will be an awesome new challenge.”

Niall is a well-decorated youth sailor, having won the Musto International Youth Match Racing Championships in Sydney 2020, and placed 3rd at the Match Racing Youth World Championships in 2020. Niall, Serena, Oliver, and Ollie are also part of the incredibly promising generation of sailors that have emerged recently through the Mastercard YTP and RNZYS PP. A massive congratulations to their fellow friends and PP crewmates; Alistair Gifford, Frankie Dair and Max South, after they won the US Grand Slam and received an invitation to the ‘grandfather of match racing’ Congressional Cup. 

Each of the team has competed in several events with them, and everyone is “obviously super stoked for the boys – they are all very highly skilled and it’s great to see them being able to showcase this on the Grand Slam.” Niall, Serena, Oliver, and Ollie hope to follow in their footsteps and continue the winning trend that RNZYS sailors have continued to show. 

Serena Woodall was selected to represent New Zealand in the 2021 Youth America’s Cup, which was cancelled, but “did give me some experience sailing on foiling boats in the lead up – I do hope however to continue training and improve with foiling as this is the sailing platform of the future”. Competitions like the YFGC are crucial to the development of future sailors in international sailing competitions. “These competitions give a taste of the commitment, experience and teamwork one might need to be on a professional team,” says Serena.

“I’ve grown up on Waiheke Island and have always been drawn to the ocean. I started playing around in dinghies around home although was never super competitive so decided to join the Mastercard YTP. Here I was part of forming a women’s match race team and currently I am part of the RNZYS PP with the girls!”

Serena Woodall as the bowman for Megan Thomson’s 2.0 Racing at the 2020 Barfoot & Thompson Women’s Keelboat National Championships. Source – RNZYS

“For me I think a big lesson has been dedication and commitment,” says Serena. “If you want to achieve something you need to be willing to put in the time and effort which is really emphasised throughout both programmes.” Niall shares Serena’s sentiment around commitment, saying “the biggest lesson has been perseverance … You have to go out and make opportunities for yourself.”

Joining the YFGC fleet while learning to sail and foil on a new class is “going to be tough over there with a lot of the teams having already done the 2021 season.” However, Niall, Serena, Oliver and Ollie “have a pretty intense training block planned as soon as we get out of lockdown and are all determined to get in our best form, learn as much as possible and give it everything.”

As experienced as Niall and Serena are, Niall thinks “a lot of people don’t understand how different foiling is to normal sailing but also very much still the same game; it’s an amazing feeling to be sailing at such high speeds but at the same time it’s still just racing with the same wind shifts and uncontrolled factors that all sailors deal with.”

Through the support of the Foiling Family, Musto, East Imperial and Emirates, the RNZYS was able to purchase 2 foiling Nacra 20’s from Emirates Team New Zealand in 2016, with 2 Phantom 18’s subsequently being added to the foiling fleet. These yachts provide a critical introduction to foiling and a foiling training platform for RNZYS members. The Foiling Family is a group of dedicated RNZYS members that supported and developed the concept of the successful RNZYS Performance Programme, and continues to support the RNZYS in the development of New Zealand’s best young sailors.

The YFGC crew has also taken up the mantle of Environmental Ambassadors for the non-profit charitable trust Sea Cleaners, that focuses on the preservation of New Zealand’s coastlines for the benefit of the marine life and for the enjoyment of all users. “Through our sailing we have seen the dire state of the water both in our backyard and overseas,” says the team. 

“As sailors we spend so much time on the water and see first-hand the issues it faces, with a huge one being pollution. The work Sea Cleaners do in this space is amazing both for the health of our marine environment, and they have an amazing education role in schools across New Zealand. Being environmental ambassadors allows us to promote, educate and role model their work overseas, and it is an honour to be an ambassador for them.”

“The 69F programme will match perfectly with these values and create opportunities to speak with regatta organisers, competitors and yacht clubs on how we can improve the way we approach sustainability in sailing.”

Niall sailing a Nacra 20 off the coast of Kawau Island. Source – RNZYS

However, Niall, Serena, Oliver, and Ollie need your support to compete against the world’s best youth sailors in this premier competition. They are currently and will continue to work as hard as they can to train and pay for flights, accommodation, and entry fees. Their total event fundraising goal is $32,000 NZD and are currently seeking sponsorship/ donations to support the cost of entering the 4 events. You can support by getting in touch with the team directly – Niall Malone: +64210409772 or niallmalone@xtra.co.nz

“This will be a great opportunity to put all our training on the Phantoms and Nacra 20s at the club on show, and we’ll hopefully engage some of the RNZYS club members to support us.”

For any media, please contact:

William Woodworth – Communications Coordinator
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron 

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