Back to top anchor
Close main menu
Open main menu Close main menu

From Cup heartbreak to foiling double for Jake Pye

Issue date

Jake Pye's breakthrough season was almost immediately followed by one of his biggest disappointments, yet he is determined that won't keep him down. 

Pye, a rising star of New Zealand sailing, admits he was "gutted" after being overlooked for the Youth America's Cup team in December, despite dominating the domestic and international Moth scene during 2023. 

The 18-year-old missed out on a spot for the event in Barcelona in October with Josh Armit, Oscar Gunn, Veerle ten Have, Seb Menzies and Leo Takahashi selected to represent Team New Zealand against 11 other countries. 

Jo Aleh, Erica Dawson, Gemma Jones, Liv Mackay and Molly Meech were picked for Team New Zealand's Women's America's Cup team. 

"It was a big year for me, and I intend to carry on that momentum," Pye said. "I was pretty gutted to not be selected but that's life and now I'm fully focused on the Moth worlds event at Manly Sailing Club at the end of this year." 

His name is likely to feature near the top of the leaderboard for the class world championships in December, the same event he was leading after two races at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy last June before light winds saw the regatta abandoned with no official result. 

Pye won the International Moth UK Open championships at the same venue only days earlier and claimed 13 of 18 races at the 2023 NZ national Moth championships at Wakatipu almost exactly a year ago. 


Jake Pye won the 2024 Moth nationals, with Mattias Coutts (right) second and Sam Street (left) third. Photo / Manly Sailing Club

He started 2024 off on the same note, defending his national title at Manly Sailing Club in January - albeit by a much smaller margin... 

Pye beat club teammate and good friend Mattias Coutts by one point after winning six races. Multiple Waszp world champion Sam Street was third. 

"The regatta was very intense, and I was still putting my new boat together just before it started," Pye said of the 2024 nationals. 

"Over the four days, we had a wide range of conditions so choosing the right gear was extremely important before leaving the beach, and I didn't always get that right. On the last day, the breeze built to around 20 knots and the sea state became very short and steep causing everybody to have some spectacular high-speed wipeouts." 

Just over a week after lifting the trophy, Pye was helming the Shaw 750F Animal Biscuits in the Bay of Islands Sailing Week - his first taste of big-boat racing. 

Pye filled in for owner and regular skipper Craig Partridge, and along with Craig Gurnel and Matt Randall sailed Animal Biscuits to victory in the 13-strong sports boats division, winning all but one of the races. 

"Bay Week was my first foray into competitive bigger boat racing, and it was an absolutely awesome experience," he said. 

"It was thrilling being able to navigate a larger vessel which is also on foils and has added a new dimension to my sailing. Obviously, things happened pretty fast, but our teamwork was really good which made for smooth sailing and ultimately helped us to claim the win. 

"There were definitely a few big differences, like having crew and more and bigger sails, but fortunately I was able to transfer a lot of my Moth foiling knowledge to Animal Biscuits as it is also a foiling boat." 


Jake Pye helmed Animal Biscuits to a division win at the Bay of Islands Sailing Week. Photo / Jacob Fewtrell Media

Achieving the rare double has taken some of the sting out of his America's Cup snub and has whet the appetite for more competitive big-boat action, Pye said. 

And he's certainly not given up on his Cup dream. 

"Racing different types of fast boats excites me and I look forward to honing my skills and embracing new challenges in this area." 

And you wouldn't bet against him. After all, if it has foils there's a good chance Jake Pye can sail it fast.