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Nelson teenagers win youth scholarship

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The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Mastercard national youth training weeks are currently underway on Kawau Island, and one lucky team from Waimea College in Nelson are there courtesy of winning a scholarship from event sponsors Mastercard.

Budding young Nelson sailors Sarah Charles, Luis Schneider, Ruby Campbell and Macgregor Jones wo the first ever Mastercard scholarship and are spending a week at Kawau Island with an RNZYS coaching team sailing in Elliott 7 keelboats.

The scholarship is designed to give a team who may not have usually been able to the chance to attend and this, as well as their dedication to the sport, is one of the reasons why the team from Waimea were selected as scholarship winners.

The Mastercard national youth training week is an intensive sailing experience and gives young sailors the opportunity to receive theoretical and practical instruction in the various aspects of competitive keelboat racing in a disciplined environment. The weeks are also a great feeder for future Mastercard RNZYS youth training programme members, with many training week graduates moving on to become YTP sailors.

Sarah Charles, 16, is on trim this week and has been sailing with the Waimea College Team Racing Team for four years. 

“I am really looking forward to my week in Auckland sailing the Elliott 7s and developing my keelboat skills," she said. "Sailing has become a sport I really love and I can’t thank Mastercard and the RNZYS enough for giving me and my teammates this amazing opportunity.”

Bowman Macgregor Jones, 16, started sailing in 2013 when he took up a learn to sail course at the Nelson Yacht Club and he hasn’t looked back since. Starting with the P Class and Optimist, Jones has moved onto Laser Radials and now 420s and 29ers.

He has also recently completed a learn to sail coaching qualification and is now set on further enhancing his keelboat skills.

“I’ve recently done a bit of keelboat racing and we had success at the 2019 Interclub South Island champs sailing the Elliott 6s, so I’m really looking forward to this week in the 7s and getting a chance to learn from RNZYS youth training programme coach Reuben Corbett. I am very grateful to Mastercard and the RNZYS for this opportunity.”

Luis Schneider, 16, who is on helm this week, has followed a very similar sailing journey to Jones, and the pair are not only Waimea College Sailing teammates but also 420 and 29er sailing partners. Schneider is also very keen to take his keelboat sailing to the next level and has a distinct love for the sport.

“I grew up playing football but got hooked on sailing after doing a summer holiday course in 2013," he said. "I learned how to windsurf in 2016 and love going out when the breeze is on. I can’t wait to head up to Kawau for the Mastercard national youth training week and learn as much as I can.”

The youngest member of the team is 15-year-old Ruby Campbell, who is on main this week. Campbell has sailing in her blood, and her family are all passionate sailors, and has been sailing since she was just four years old.

She has experience sailing in all types of boats, including paper tigers, windsurfers, Hobie 16s, 420s and many more.

“In my early teens I had a couple of seasons learning to sail on a Topaz, which led me to join Waimea College Sailing team in 2018," she said. "This season I have also managed a few nights out in the Nelson harbour fleet racing on a large keeler and it has further peaked my interest in keelboat racing.

"I am over the moon at getting this opportunity and am very thankful to Mastercard and the RNZYS for this chance to further my sailing skills and knowledge.”

See here for more on the Mastercard national youth training week and here for more on the Mastercard RNZYS youth training programme.