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

Herbert out to create history at Starling nationals

Issue date

Sean Herbert is looking to write himself into the record books when the Starling national championships get under way at the Taipa Sailing Club on Sunday.

The 17-year-old joined an elite group last year as a two-time winner of the John Peet Trophy - Rohan Cooke (1992-93), Tim Christiansen (1999-2000) and Peter Burling (2005-06) have also won two titles since the first national championships in 1972 - but no one has ever won it three times.

Herbert will go into this year's event as one of the favourites, having won the North Island title in January as well as finishing first in the Starling at last month's Auckland secondary schools fleet racing regatta.

"It's really exciting," Herbert said of the prospect of creating history. "There's a little bit of pressure from the rest of the fleet knowing who I am and knowing they will be the people who will hustle a bit. 

"I've performed pretty well recently so I know where I stand in the group. I'm confident but not overly confident."

Some of that has to do with the fact Herbert has barely sailed in the Starling since winning last year's national title, counting the number of sailing days in the class on two hands over those 12 months.

"I've just been really busy with school I haven't really had a chance to go sailing much," the Wentworth College student explained. "It's my final year of school so I need to knuckle down."

Another reason is the strength and depth within the Starling fleet right now, and there are expected to be a number of contenders at Taipa including Quinn Kusanic (Bay of Islands Yacht Club), Kaan Yazici (Wakatere Boating Club), Lachlan Dillon (Tauranga Yacht & Power Boat Club), Jack Manning (Glendowie Boating Club) and Mattias Coutts (Manly Sailing Club).

There were also three females in the top 10 of the Traveller Series, a collection of 15 regattas around the country - Cleo Boyd (BOIYC), Emily Overend (Queen Charlotte Yacht Club) and Antonia Hill (Charteris Bay Yacht Club).

At last count, 96 competitors had entered the national championships, including eight in the development fleet, which is slightly down on previous years. The Optimist national championships and teams racing nationals are also on during the school holidays, among other sailing events, which have had an influence on numbers.

Despite this, Starling association chairman Richard Brown said the class is in good health.

"We have tried very hard as a class to make it attractive," he said. "The fleet is mostly made up of fibreglass boats which don't need as much maintenance as the old wooden ones.

"We've also been very good with class rules and not letting people get away with super-boats. It feels like a good class to be involved with."

Racing at the national championships gets under way at the Taipa Sailing Club on Sunday and concludes on Wednesday.