Interview with Colette Kraus

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Before she hosts our first Rules, Speed and Tactics Night with a discussion on the rules of competitive sailing, we had a few questions for International Umpire and National Judge – Colette Kraus. Her evening on the 15th of June will be insightful for sailors of all skill levels, and from dinghy sailors to 50 foot crew members. RSVP to the event at https://www.rnzys.org.nz/rnzys-events/rules-tactics-speed-speaker-series/

When/how did your love of sailing start?

I moved to NZ (Wellington) from Canada in 1989 (supposedly for 6 months), and “learn to sail” was one of the things I wanted to do while in NZ.  I got onto a boat at RPNYC and it all started there.

How did you progress from sailing into umpiring?

When I moved to Auckland in about 2003, I was helping lay marks for the 88 Nationals, and saw the umpires out on the boats, and thought “I could do that”; someone told JR, and he then asked me to join the umpire team for the Womens Matchracing Nationals, which were a few weeks later. 

Do you still get much of an opportunity to sail while busy with umpiring?

Yes, if I wanted to, but the umpiring and judging takes most of my free time now, and I prefer being on that water in that way instead.

What are some of the most high-profile regattas have you umpired at?

Two of the biggest would be the 49er/49FX/Nacra Worlds here in Auckland in Nov 2019 -This was the last regatta for countries to qualify for the 2020 Olympics (held in 2021).All the countries were here, and many, many protests as sailors were fighting to qualify their country, and then within the country, fighting for their one spot on the team, and the Foiling Moth Worlds in Perth, 2019 – Many of the “names” of sailing were there, with Tom Slingsby showing them all how it is done.

Any favourite memories/regattas from your umpiring career?

The Women’s Worlds in Gothenburg 2012 and then two Tour events – the Swedish match race in Marstraand and Chicago Matchrace – 3 events in a row. They were my first events as an “official” IU.  Lots of learnings, and made many new friends.

You were the first New Zealand-based woman to get your ISAF International Umpiring qualification back in 2012 – how do you think sailing have evolved and changed since then?

– All the foiling events we have now didn’t even exist way back then 

– Matchracing was the classic style with spinnakers, gennakers, and lots of really close racing, highlighting the skills of the crew rather than the boat design

– many more females on teams – in the Youth International MR regatta just held, almost all the teams had at least one female on board; when I started it was nearly always all males

What do you think the biggest lesson will be for those that come along to your evening?

Hopefully a better understanding of the basic rules, and how to keep it simple

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