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Elliott 7

Stars come out for Elliott 7 racing

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Rod Davis was a bit nervous going into the afternoon's racing.

Here was a guy who is a two-time Olympic medallist and been involved in at least 10 America's Cup campaigns lining up for a spot of 'friendly' Elliott 7 racing in the Waitemata Harbour.

His nerves probably stemmed from the fact he was heading a little bit into the unknown. Also littered among the 10-boat fleet were sailors ranging Olympic medallists and an America's Cup and Sail GP helmsman to some of this country's top emerging talent. There were even a couple of kitefoilers thrown in there as well.

"I must admit, I was pretty nervous going into it," Davis said. "I felt that if we could finish in the top half of the fleet, that would be a good result. I thought we would get creamed in the Elliott 7s because I haven't done a lot of sailing in them recently."

Davis needn't have worried. He was joined by professionals Cameron Dunn and Grant Loretz as well as Olivia Christie, this country's top Laser Radial sailor, and the quartet finished among the top three after five races.

"It was nice to have a good regatta. We started off a bit slow but worked our way up."

Davis was only one among a gaggle of well-known sailors who raced recently that also included Nathan Outteridge, John Cutler, Dan Slater, Chris Steele and a host of NZL Sailing Team members. 

This was the fifth in a series of racing held monthly by Yachting New Zealand on the Elliott 7s. It was started earlier this year as a way to keep this country's top Olympic campaigners race sharp given their inability to race and train overseas.

A previous session pitted members of Emirates Team New Zealand, including Peter Burling and Blair Tuke who are also NZL Sailing Team members, Glenn Ashby and Ray Davies with and against Olympic campaigners.

"We value the connectivity through our programmes from Olympic through to junior level," Yachting New Zealand high performance director Ian Stewart said. "There's such a rich history of talented sailors in this country and it's fantastic to make that wider connection.

"These people are approachable and our young sailors know it but don't always make the most of it. Campaign sharing is a key value of our whole programme."

Davis, who famously won gold for the United States in the Soling class at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and then silver for New Zealand in the Star at the 1992 Barcelona Games, wholeheartedly agrees.

"There's a great mix of sailors around, and [these Elliott 7 sessions are] a way for people to share ideas. It's not really the results that matter but the opening of avenues and sharing of ideas.

"Maybe some would have seen the other day that we are just normal people who make normal mistakes. The more we can break that down and make it comfortable for youngsters to approach some of the older guys, the more they are likely to learn."

See here for a gallery from the day's racing.