Please select your home edition
McConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 LEADERBOARD

Laser sailor Sara Winther the raging radial

by Shauna McGee on 16 May 2011
Sara Winther - Semaine Olympique Française 2011 Guillaume Durand
New Zealand Laser Radial champion, Sara Winther is working her European Campaign with dexterity and solid training. She won the 43rd Sailing World Cup in Hyères – France. She’s in good company and traveling with top, international athletes and fellow New Zealanders - Miranda Powrie, Jo Aleh, Olvia Aleh, Rachel Basevi and 'The Famous Five' (New Zealand’s men’s laser sailors).

Sara started sailing at the age of eight with the Optimist and then the Sabot. Her passion was born out of her love of water sports and swimming. She was the first person in her family to start racing sailboats and at first, just for the love of sports.

Her first coaches, Jan Cameron and Guy Talbot inspired her. She enjoyed the physical and challenging nature of the Starling junior class. And that early experience at Whakatane Sailing Club moved her to move into the Laser Radial class.

In 1999, Sara went to Laser Radial Worlds in Kuopio, Finland. She was very close to a Girls gold finish, but took a close Silver. Spohie de Turckheim (FRA) took gold in 1999 and the two are again in competition together. Sophie and Sara had a close finish in race 3 with a tie for first. And, this go around, Sara is overall at the top.

Sara moved from Youth class to Olympic class and into a new single-handed boat – The Europe Class. She spent three seasons at the back of the fleet learning the new boat and sailing alongside the top Olympic athlete and New Zealand sailor Sarah Mackey.

The Women’s Olympic classes have been a bumpy ride. In 2003, Sara chased the Olympic class change and moved to the Yngling. She teamed up with Sharon Ferris and Joanna White. The team of three took a third at Yngling Open Worlds in Warnemunde - Germany that year.

Sara stopped racing the Yngling when the Olympic Committee again changed the women’s class to the Laser Radial. This meant that Sara gave away her Europe sailboat and bought a Laser Radial. A lot of other female sailors had given up chasing all the class changes, but Sara was determined to follow the opportunities. She noted that it was strange to be sailing among a lot of women who had come up through the youth Laser Radial programs and not sailed as many different classes as she had.

New Zealand selected Jo Aleh for the 2008 Olympics because she was an expert in light winds. Jo took seventh at the Beijing Olympics. Sara and Jo have a long friendship, even to the point that they are rooming together in Europe. The two bounce ideas off each other and Sara acknowledges she learned a lot from Jo. Jo has moved over to the 470, while Sara enjoys her Laser Radial experience 'coming together'.

Sara had outstanding success at the Princess Sofia Trophy competition in Palma – Spain held 2 to 9 April. She finished first overall and didn’t expect to be doing so well so early on in the season. She went into the regatta with some unknowns, including starting work with a new coach – Mark Orams. Despite being a little unsure, the results took care of themselves and she achieved a bit more than the 'solid regatta' she was expecting.

Sara’s new coach, Mark Orams was the 2005 and 2008 Laser Radial World Champion. Prior to that she was working with the New Zealand Radial squad coach – Mark Howard. Having Mark as the new coach has been a good experience. Sara’s and Mark’s training plans and attention to detail are similar. They’ve found an easy friendship and frequently work their successful strategy over a relaxed cup of coffee. Every now and then she gets on the water with the New Zealand men’s sailors coached by Mark Howard to get a challenge.

With two wins out of two regattas, the next goals for Sara are the Skandia Sail for Gold in Weymouth – England for the Yachting New Zealand designated Pre-Olympic qualifier and the 2011 Laser World Championships that are part of the Perth 2011 (3 to 18 December 2011) events.

Regardless of the results from individual events, in broad terms the biggest competition for the top Women’s Laser Radial is between Sara Winther (NZL), the past two-time World Champ - Sari Multala (FIN), Marit Bouwmeester (NED), Paige Railey (USA), Evi van Acker (BEL) and the 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist - Xu Lijia (CHN).

Keep a watch for Sara across the rest of this season’s events. She’s focused and working the angles and raging on the Radial.

Quotes from Sara:

'I consider myself a real jack of trades!'

'Lately through these two events, I guess I am becoming good at lighter winds - under 12 knots.'

'I also really enjoy the offshore shifty conditions, like we saw at Weymouth last year - this is what we have a lot of at home in Takapune where I do most of my training.'

'I’m just not the biggest person in the fleet so that is always a battle, but I am comfortable in Sara Winther Semaine Olympique Francaise website

X-Yachts AUS SAIL FOOTERHenri-Lloyd M-PRO FOOTER SWMcConaghy 2022 - MC63p & MC75 FOOTER

Related Articles

Memorial Day racing, Summit Stockholm, Vendée
This is a great time to be a sailor in North America This is a great time to be a sailor in North America. Days are still waxing light, Memorial Day races are in the front window, as are the Newport Bermuda Race and other classic distance races, and the regatta calendar is full of great events.
Posted on 24 May
The changing face of sailing
I had been sitting there reflecting on Beken of Cowes type images of old J's and a cast of thousands I had been sitting there reflecting on Beken of Cowes type images of old J's with a cast of thousands on board. All that canvas is always easy to go with.
Posted on 22 May
Brilliantly barmy
Andrew Bedwell's Big C set for an incredible and daunting challenge Sailing is a broad church, and news that caught my eye last week wasn't about the fastest, or most popular type of yacht. Far from it. Andrew Bedwell has built a yacht for a world record attempt in the smallest sailing vessel to cross the Atlantic.
Posted on 16 May
Ryan Schenck on the 2022 RS Aero North Americans
Being hosted by the Davis Island Yacht Club, in Tampa, Florida Sail-World checked in with Ryan Schenck, co-chair of the 2022 RS Aero North American Championship, via email, to learn more about this exciting One Design regatta.
Posted on 16 May
America's Cup news, Sail Canada report, TOR Update
Latest newsletter from Sail-World's David Schmidt in the USA The 2024 America's Cup might feel like a long way over the horizon as North America just begins to enter its 2022 sailing season, but the wheels are already turning for the 37th Defense.
Posted on 10 May
That other category.
There are plenty of sporting superstars. Thousands actually. Then there are those who are... There are plenty of sporting superstars. Thousands actually. Then there are those who are transcendent.
Posted on 8 May
I must go down to the sea again
A weekend which had far more than its fair share of tragedy at sea The intention of my editorial today was to celebrate all that is good about long weekend events, but after a weekend which had far more than its fair share of tragedy at sea, all that changed.
Posted on 3 May
SailGP, One Design, Congo Cup, and offshore news
SailGP, One Design, Congressional Cup, and offshore racing news The (foiling) wake may have barely settled on San Francisco Bay after Tom Slingsby and his Australian SailGP Team won the $1M+ prize purse at the SailGP's Season 2 Grand Final, but that certainly isn't stopping SailGP teams from making headlines.
Posted on 26 Apr
So just supposing...
A video of the new Beneteau First 36 was enough to pique the curiosity When this video of the new Beneteau First 36 surfaced this week, reportedly punching out to 17 knots, well it was certainly enough to pique the curiosity. I mean this side of say a Pogo 36, it was quite impressive.
Posted on 25 Apr
Easter Eggs
Sailing has its fair share of hidden features Without doubt, this weekend will have seen many consumed around the world, and also handed out as prizes at sailing events, but there are also the Easter Eggs found in video games and movies, which are hidden features or messages.
Posted on 19 Apr