Please select your home edition
Edition
Wildwind 2016 728x90

Australia's Wangi WonderKid's inspirational example

by Peter McIntosh on 14 Mar 2011
Nathan surrounded by Sabot sailors who lined up for signed posters at Wangi. - Wangi wonderkid welcomed home Peter McIntosh
World 49er and Moth World Champion Nathan Outteridge’s battle back from the brink of permanent disability to experience the pinnacle of sailing achievement with world titles is a gutsy and remarkable journey on many levels.

If anything its retelling to a group of Sabot sailors at his old home club of Wangi on the western shores of Lake Macquarie in NSW Australia served as a lesson in never giving up, a characteristic that newcomers to the sport of sailing could find inspirational when they face their own lesser daunting challenges.

Asked by one of the kids what made him sail faster than others Nathan had quite a bit to say, such as the fact he never liked losing and always listened closely to his teachers and experimented to make the boat go faster .

But the most important thing, he thought, was concentration. ``It’s always about trying to think of ways to do things a bit better.’’

As special surprise guest at a Sabot the skills development camp at Wangi, Nathan managed to get the kids to concentrate as he described first his meteoric rise through the ranks as a teenager. His shocking car accident in 2005 and his courageous recovery ordeal. And his awesome achievements since then, including his most recent Moth worlds title at Belmont, on the same lake and just up the road from Wangi. Not surprisingly today the high-flying Moths remain his favourite class.

It all started back in Wangi when he was about five years old, learning to sail in a Sabot, a class he spent eight years in.

At the same time he started learning the ropes of F11s, in which he also sailed for five years. His competitive streak led him to race at State or National titles in all states except Northern Territory and in 2000 aged 13 he became the senior national Sabot champion in Yepoon, Queensland.

``Three days later I started racing in and won the F11 title and I realised I was pretty good,’’ he said, musing that while school was important his heart was set on becoming a fulltime sailor.

``After the F11 I went to a 29er, the smaller version of the 49er. It’s an awesome boat, goes double the speed of the F11. You have really good racing and really good crashes.’’

This class put him on the pathway to World Youth title events and he went on to win titles in 29ers and 420s. He told the kids he loved the travel opportunities high level sailing presented such as his campaign in Canada, Portugal and Poland.

``I’m someone who likes travelling and as a professional sailor you get to do a lot, you always go to nice places on the water near the beach.’’

Nathan started to sail in 470s which are used for Olympic training and were the class in which Australia won gold in at Beijing. ``I realised I was getting a bit big so started steering a 49er and after racing for some years in Europe was selected for the Olympics where I ended up fifth overall. ``In the final I went from being in a gold medal position to fifth due to a capsize in 20knots,’’ he said.

Recalling the car accident on the way to Sail Melbourne in 2005, Nathan said he was sharing driving duties in the team car towing boats when as sole occupant he fell asleep at the wheel and ran into a tree.

Spinal damage included shattered vertebrae and by the time he was cut out of the wreckage and underwent a nine-hour operation he had lost six litres of blood. ``At one point I was completely dead and had to be resuscitated,’’ he said. The operation involved getting rid of bone fragments and inserting metal joins to make the spine work again.

He had a few kids squirming when describing it as like being opened up and having someone move some of his guts out of the way while they worked on the spine and then put it all back inside before stitching him back up again.

When he awoke visiting relatives found it amusing when he suffered hiccups after the operation but each hiccup was a little bit of torture.

He spent 10 days with no food, surviving on a drip and went from 75 kilos to 57 kilos. To allow bone healing he was placed in a brace from shoulder to hips. While initial fears were that he may never walk again, it took him a week to learn to walk again after the operation but he would wear the brace for a further three months, then spend another three months rebuilding lost muscle tissue with physio.

Eventually he recovered fully but says his spine will constantly have to be monitored to ensure there are no problems arising.



Fielding questions from the young Sabot sailors Nathan was asked what were his best experiences in sailing. He said his first world title in 49ers was right up there but he also cherished the memory of his first time sailing in a Moth.

`It’s a cross between windsurfing sailing and flying you go fast enough get the hull out of the water, you suddenly go from 6knots to 15knots in three seconds and then you have silence.’’

An exciting video of the Moth racing had plenty of kids clamouring to get mum and dad to rush out and rush out and buy one but at $25,000 that was unlikely.

Nathan’s advice was to sail all the rest of the classes first, ``by then you should be old enough to buy one yourself.’’

Nathan is now campaigning for the Olympics in London in the 49er class and that involves months of training and competition on Europe.

Lancer Not EqualFestival of Sails 2017 660x82Zhik Isotak Ocean 660x82

Related Articles

The Great Dane dies at 88 + Video
One of the heroes of sailing, Paul Elvstrøm (DEN) has died at the age of 88 years. One of the heroes of sailing, Paul Elvstrøm (DEN) has died at the age of 88 years. Known as the Great Dane, and winner of four Olympic Gold Medals, and many world championships in multiple classes from dinghies to keelboats, Elvstrøm put a footprint on the sport like no other.
Posted on 7 Dec
America's Cup - Kiwi lodges Appeal against Jury in San Francisco Cup
Former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell (NZL) has lodged an Appeal against a Decision to dismiss his case Former Oracle Team USA crew member, Matthew Mitchell (NZL) has lodged an Appeal against a Decision to dismiss his case taken against the International Jury for the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco. On October 28, 2016, US District Judge Vince Chhabria dismissed Mitchell's claim against the five-person International Jury on the basis that it was lodged too late.
Posted on 2 Dec
A Q&A with Nick Bice about the recent changes for the 2017/2018 VOR
I caught up with Nick Bice, the VOR’s director of boats and maintenance, to learn more about the VOR’s new directions. I recently had the pleasure of hearing Nick Bice, the Volvo Ocean Race’s director of boats and maintenance, deliver a keynote speech to an audience of marine-industry professionals and official Volvo Ocean Race suppliers at the 2016 METS trade show in Amsterdam. I caught up with Bice after his presentation to learn more about the new directions that the race is taking for its thirteenth edition.
Posted on 28 Nov
A Q&A with Sharon Green about the prep work that ensures great images
I talked with ace photographer Sharon Green to learn more about the prep work that goes into each image that she snaps. I caught up with ace photographer Sharon Green at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn more about the behind-the-scenes preparation work that goes into each image that she snaps. While some of Green’s tips are specific to professional shooters (e.g., helicopter time or juggling multiple camera bodies), plenty of amateur lensmen will be well served to consider Green’s racecourse-proven tips.
Posted on 23 Nov
Dockside with CQS - radical, revamped supermaxi up close
The revamped supermaxi CQS is currently in Auckland's Silo Marina, ahead of her first race on Friday The revamped supermaxi CQS is currently in Auckland's Silo Marina, ahead of her first race on Friday - the White Island Race which will double as Rolex Sydney Hobart Qualifier. Originally the 90ft Nicorette designed by South African Alex Simonis, the new project to upgrade to a 100ft supermaxi has been led by Brett Bakewell-White (NZ) and Bakewell-White Yacht Design.
Posted on 22 Nov
Cabbage Tree Island Race 2016 Video
A warm evening saw the start of this year’s CYCA Cabbage Tree Island Race in a yellow haze with the fleet initially mix A warm evening saw the start of this year’s CYCA Cabbage Tree Island Race in a yellow haze with the fleet initially mixing it with the various twilighters. A 15 knot NNE saw the fleet reach their way through the Heads before heading into the breeze and up the coast. Bow Caddy caught the full fleet out of the harbour.
Posted on 20 Nov
Gladwell's Line - President Croce caught at helm in Perfect Storm
No real surprise that incumbent President Carlo Croce (ITA) was unseated mid-way an eight-year term After a year or more punctuated with issues that should not have happened, it is no real surprise that incumbent President Carlo Croce (ITA) was unseated mid-way through what should have been an eight-year term. Also gone is one of his lieutenants, Chris Atkins (GBR) as Vice President, who remarkably polled 13th out of the 15 candidates.
Posted on 15 Nov
Farr 40s One Design Trophy – Kokomo leads after Day 1 + Video
The first round of the Farr 40s One Design Trophy was contested with less wind than predicted but enough to encourage The first round of the Farr 40s One Design Trophy was contested with less wind than predicted but enough to encourage close racing between the seven competitors. Kokomo won the second and fourth races with Estate Master taking the first and the third leaving Kokomo in first place at the end of Day 1. Bow Caddy was on the harbour and caught some of the action.
Posted on 23 Oct
Gladwell's Line -The America's Cup settlement deal
The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the Arbitration Panel is not news The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the America's Cup Arbitration Panel is not new - Sail-World reported the same story in the first and second weeks of September. The Hearing on the amount of compensation to be paid is yet to be held. So far we have been unable to discover a date if indeed one has been set. Maybe next year?
Posted on 11 Oct
CYCA Lion Island Race 2016 - Race Finish Video
A constant 22 knot southerly wind made for a very quick trip up to Lion Island and back to Sydney Harbour for the CYCA A constant 22 knot southerly wind made for a very quick trip up to Lion Island and back to Sydney Harbour for the CYCA fleet in the latest of the Ocean Pointscore races. Bow Caddy caught the first six boats at they came around North Head on the return leg. Look out for the whales when the whale watching boat is in shot.
Posted on 8 Oct