New Zealand Youth Yachting Team: 1985, 1986
New Zealand Boardsailing Team: 1986–92
New Zealand Pre-Olympic Yachting Team: 1987, 1991
New Zealand National Boardsailing Champion: 1988 (COVER PHOTO), 1991
New Zealand Raceboard Champion: 2015-17
World Grand-Masters Raceboard Champion 2016 (ABOVE)
I was generally a good student until I finished my Fifth Form year. That said, around the same time I began to show a talent for yachting, and windsurfing in particular. During my Sixth Form year I was selected in the ‘New Zealand Youth Yachting Team’ and I went to the Youth World Championships in Switzerland. During this time I put all of my energy into windsurfing and I was no longer interested in school. I didn’t do my best at school and I thought that because I was doing well at sailing that this was okay. The truth is I didn’t do my all-round best and I have regretted this ever since.
I went on to windsurf at the highest level. I represented New Zealand from 1986 until 1992. In 1987 I was selected in the ‘New Zealand Pre-Olympic Yachting Team’ for the Pre-Olympics at Busan, Korea. In 1988 I won the New Zealand National Boardsailing Championships. I was selected in the ‘1988 Olympic Team’ in a non-competing role but I withdrew from the team to return to my studies.
Academically speaking I had a lot to prove to myself and this motivation helped me gain entrance to Auckland Law School in 1990. I completed an Honors Degree in Law in 1993.
My last Olympic Campaign ended in 1992 and I never seriously competed again (although I did coach the New Zealand Boardsailing Team at the World Championships in New Caledonia in 1999). I began my career as a lawyer at Russell McVeagh McKenzie Bartleet & Co in Auckland, and eventually I moved overseas mainly living and working in the United Kingdom.
At first glance it might appear that I was able to successfully combine my studies and sailing but in reality it was usually one or the other. I always found it difficult to achieve a balance. This was also the case at school. I was in the last year of the old ‘University Entrance’ (U.E.) exam system, and because of this I was able to spend an unreasonable amount of time during my Sixth Form year at the beach instead of in the classroom. Even now this might seem okay because I was successful with my sailing (and eventually my studies) but I know that I let myself down.
It took some time to make the most of my academic potential, but it took even longer to be proud of my sailing achievements. ‘Second is last’ was the prevailing sporting mantra when I was competing.
Of course now that I am a parent I can more clearly see that just participating is the most important thing; that being part of something and doing your best is something to be very proud of. This is what I would hope of my own children. Unfortunately I didn’t fully participate during my time at Mahurangi College. I trained and competed in an individual sport and then I used my sport as a shield so that I didn’t have to risk joining in many things at school. I was at school but not part of it. I struggled with this feeling when I attended the 2012 School Reunion. I spent a long time looking at the photos on the wall in the Library of some of the College’s most successful sportspersons, especially my favourite All Black’s Robin and Zinzan Brooke. Since then I have wanted to be proud of my school, and in turn I have wanted my school to be proud of me.