Please select your home edition
Edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Kiwi Gold- Former America's Cup sailors on the Road to Rio Paralympics

by Alan Sefton on 1 May 2014
Rick Dodson, David Barnes and Andrew May - ISAF 2013 OCR Miami Regatta . ..
The Kiwi Gold Sailing team continues to receive great support – from without and within.

The team was formed last year to assist two of New Zealand’s outstanding sailing talents, David Barnes and Rick Dodson, to achieve their goal of winning a medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,

Between them, David and Rick represented New Zealand in nine America’s Cups (winning twice) and have won eight world championships (not to mention a long list of national titles).

But, 13 years ago they were both diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and it appeared that their competitive sailing days were over.

No so. True to their roots, they have tackled their new circumstances as a challenge, arguably the biggest of their lives, and have set their sights on more international success – racing together in the Paralympic class Sonar.


Kiwi Gold Sailing has two of the Bruce Kirby-designed 23ft keel boats and they are the back bone of the programme that is aimed at delivering a medal in Brazil.

NZL1 has been funded by New Zealand sailing great Neville Crichton, through his Great Wall Cars company (which also provides support funding and vehicles).

NZL2 has been provided by a syndicate comprising long-time New Zealand sailing supporter Peter Cornes, Auckland waterfront legend John Street and Kiwi Gold Sailing itself (although Kiwi Gold still has to raise $50,000 of its commitment).
The ultimate objective is to have the two yachts working up against one another, crewed mostly by sailors with a disability. To that end, the current priority is identifying the right sailors to join the Auckland-based programme.

The Sonar is a three-person, two-sail keel boat that is crewed by a helmsperson, a mainsheet hand and a for’ard hand.
There is no shortage of qualified volunteers but, it is not simply a matter of choosing the best and then developing them as a crew.

An appointed, qualified doctor has to assess and grade the degree of a sailor’s disability and mark it according to internationally-developed points scale. The crew and gradings are rechecked by an official doctor at the venues of all lead-up Sonar regattas. The maximum points total per crew is 14 so, getting the right three people in a boat is a bit of a juggling act.

The most leeway is probably in the for’ard hand position. The required skills – trimming the headsail and poling it out for downwind legs – can, if necessary, readily be taught.

The most important crew criteria, however, can’t.

Kiwi Gold Sailing manager Mike Clark explains: 'That’s attitude and, if you haven’t got the right kind, don’t even bother to apply'.

While the process is trialling of would-be crew proceeds, Rick (helm) and David (mainsheet), sailing NZL1, don’t lack for top rate opposition. An impressive list of their former team-mates (in the New Zealand Challenge and in Team New Zealand) make sure that the build-up work is world class.

That list includes Matthew Mason, Robbie Naismith, Tony Rae, Robbie Salthouse, Tony Rae, Richard Meacham and James Dagg.

Other well known yachties that have been giving valuable time are Harry Dodson (Rick’s cousin) and his son Stewart, Tim Snedden, Ross Guiniven, Dallas Bennett and Simon Dickey, through their companies Benefitz and Frontend Design not only assist with general design and printing needs, but also help out on the water, as does the RNZYS Youth Team.

After learning-curve outings in Sonar regattas in Melbourne (Australia), Kinsale (Ireland), Rochester (USA) last year, Kiwi Gold Sailing has now stepped up the anti as it seeks 'a top 7' finish in the Sonar world championships, in Nova Scotia (Canada) in August. That would qualify New Zealand for entry in the Sonar class in Rio.


There will be one more similar opportunity – in the Sail Melbourne regatta in December,

Andrew May, a disabled sailor from Diamond Bay (near Christchurch) is now full time with the team and will be part of the Kiwi Gold Sailing contingent going to Halifax for the Sonar Worlds.

The 36-year-old Andrew has been sailing since childhood and won the1995 national championships in the double-hander Phoenix. That was the year before a car accident left him a quadriplegic.

This was when sailing became more a lifeline than a sport to the then 18-year-old. He readily admits that he does not know where he would be now without having sailing to turn to. Sailing, he says, provides a release from the confines of his wheelchair, a freedom he would otherwise be denied.

Today, Andrew is a Paralympic sailing veteran having raced in the Atlanta (Georgia) games in 1996 and then the Sydney games in 2000. He easily qualified for the Beijing Paralympics but was unable to secure the funding required to take part in all of the required pre-Olympic events in Europe.

So, Kiwi Gold Sailing is giving not just David and Rick another shot, but Andrew too.

The boys, with help from Steve Cranch, the invaluable 'Curly' Salthouse and new sponsor Southern Spars, have been carrying out modifications to their Sonars. Can’t tell you too much just now (or we’d have to shoot you) but, the two-boat programme certainly helps in evaluating the changes and in ensuring that they are, in fact, improvements.


Major events coming up.-
2014: 16 – 24 August – Sonar World Championships, Halifax, Nova Scotia
23 – 25 November – Lake Wanaka training camp
2 – 9 December – Sonar series as part of the Sail Melbourne regatta
2015: 28 – 31 January - MOCR Regatta, Miami, Florida

Finally, we can always do with more help and if you know someone with a bit of spare time on their hands who can assist, on or off the water, please put them in touch with Celia Tel:021 320 310 email celia.snedden@xtra.co.nz



upffront 660x82Southern Spars - 100Naiad/Oracle Supplier

Related Articles

Dateline Rio - Sailing Olympics review - as good as it gets?
The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The weather was better than Weymouth and Qingdao, the courses more varied, but from a working media perspective, it was the people running the Rio regatta who really made the difference.
Posted today at 2:39 am
Rio 2016 - Plain speaking by triple-medalist on Olympic sailing moves
Triple Olympic medalist, Santiago Lange has been on the sharp end of changes made to Olympic classes and formats Santiago Lange, a six-time Olympian and Bronze medallist in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, won his third medal – Gold sailing in the Nacra 17 class. With that length of experience at an Olympic level, having sailed the Laser, Tornado and now Nacra 17 classes his comments on the future shape of the Olympic regatta was one of the highlights of the Medallists Media Conferences.
Posted on 25 Aug
Rio 2016 - Unless you're continuously improving, you're falling behind
The Olympics displayed the reality of elite sport - that unless you are continuously improving, you are falling behind. Mark Orams, World champion sailor and now a Professor of sport and recreation looks at some lessons from the 2016 Olympics, he says you need to be improving faster than the opposition to succeed at the Olympics. Britain did just that with a staggering haul of eleven medals in track cycling, six of them gold, bettering their performance at their home Olympics four years earlier.
Posted on 24 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images from the NZL Sailing Team return home
On Wednesday morning, the NZL Sailing Team returned to New Zealand from the Rio Olympics. On Wednesday morning, the NZL Sailing Team returned to New Zealand from the Rio Olympics. First up was a reception for the whole Olympic Team in The Cloud. A second function was held at the NZ Maritime Museum, under the hull of NZL-32, the 1995 America's Cup winner, with just the Sailing Team members and some of the coaches.
Posted on 24 Aug
Rio says goodbye to its Olympic Games 2016
The Olympic Games will leave Rio de Janeiro a much better place, International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach says. The Olympic Games will leave Rio de Janeiro a much better place, International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach says.
Posted on 23 Aug
Rio 2016 - Australia tops Olympic Sailing Medal Table again
Australia has again topped the table with their Gold Medal and three Silver Medals won in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regat Using the weighted points system for defining Olympic Medal Table placings, Australia has again topped the table with their Gold Medal and three Silver Medals won in the 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta in Rio de Janeiro. After the 2012 Olympic Regatta in Weymouth, Australia also topped the Medal table, but were tied with hosts, Great Britain on 11pts. Includes full results for all classes.
Posted on 22 Aug
Rio 2016 - 49erFX Gold Medal provides local fizz for Sailing Olympics
Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze sent their fellow Brazilians into a frenzy on Flamengo Beach on Thursday AP's Bernie Wilson was on the scene when Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze sent their fellow Brazilians into a frenzy on Flamengo Beach on Thursday after holding off the New Zealand crew by two seconds to win the gold medal in the women's 49erFX class, which was making its Olympic debut. There's a link to the rest of his excellent coverage of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Sailing Regatta.
Posted on 22 Aug
Rio 2016- Annalise Murphy gets Irish eyes smiling again
In Rio 2016, the Annalise Murphy of old was back, but lighter and sharper than Weymouth 2012. In Rio 2016, the Annalise Murphy of old was back, but lighter and sharper than Weymouth 2012. For a time in the Medal race she had the Gold medal in her grasp, but came away absolutely delighted with the Silver. Thefull story of how this amazing turnaround was achieved, is probably yet to be told, but long-time Irish sailing correspondent, WM Nixon, writing in Afloat.ie fills in the background
Posted on 21 Aug
Reading Australia’s Rio 2016 Sailing Report Card
Pre-event, Australian Sailing officials predicted there would be between three and five medals at Rio 2016. Pre-event, Australian Sailing officials predicted there would be between three and five medals at Rio 2016. So Tom Burton's Gold in the Laser, and then Silver for the 470 Men’s sailors, Matt Belcher and Will Ryan, London 49er Gold Medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, and then lastly Nacra 17 first time campaigners, Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin, was a good result.
Posted on 21 Aug
Park's pride as Brits leave Rio Olympic Sailing as top nation
With 17 countries claiming the 30 medals from 10 events between them, Park thinks Rio lived up to its reputation With 17 countries claiming the 30 medals from 10 events between them, Park thinks Rio lived up to its reputation as one of the most difficult places in the world to sail. At London 2012 the same numbers of medals was spread between 15 countries.
Posted on 19 Aug