Please select your home edition
Edition
Flagstaff 2021AUG - Oceanis Yacht 54 - 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

Sail Racing 2021 FOOTERRS Sailing 2021 - FOOTERZhik 2021 Dec Choice of Champions FOOTER

Related Articles

A perfect day of winter racing
Sail-World's US Editor tells of a magical day enabled by great teamwork The roads were icy, but far less treacherous than I feared as I eased onto I-5, my car aimed at Seattle's Shilshole Bay Marina. Amazingly, this motif of the day exceeding expectations continued throughout our team's 2022 Duwamish Head Race.
Posted on 18 Jan
At the front of the fleet.
Handy position to be in. no matter whether it is icy pole sticks in a drain, or ocean racers at sea. Handy position to be in, no matter whether it is icy pole sticks in a drain, or Grand Prix boats out in the big blue. Since my last ditty, I noticed that three podiums in the one race were all powered by North Sails...
Posted on 16 Jan
America's Cup U-turn, 16ft Skiffs shine
Mark Jardine looks at what's been making the news so far in 2022 America's Cup land never fails to deliver on drama, and the past week saw plenty of it as American Magic confirmed their intention to compete in the 37th America's Cup (AC37), representing the New York Yacht Club (NYYC).
Posted on 10 Jan
The Twelve Days of FiveO Christmas
It is time to vote for your favourite 505 photo The 5o5 class grabbed the media spotlight with the '12 days of 5o5 Christmas'. The premise was simple, for instead of calling birds, pipers a piping and French hens, there were twelve superb Christophe Favreau photographs.
Posted on 7 Jan
Sydney Hobart, Magnus Olsson Prize, #TeamSeas
Read David Schmidt's first Sail-World.com North American editorial of 2022! The Pacific Northwest might have been buried under snow and unseasonably cold temperatures over the holidays, but things were decidedly warmer in Australia with the annual Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.
Posted on 4 Jan
Sterling effort.
50 crews made it through the first night in the washing machine to reach ye olde Hobart Town. Singling out the Two-Handers in the Hobart is in no way belittling any of the 50 crews who made it through the first night in the washing machine.
Posted on 2 Jan
Life through a lens
Could augmented reality help avoid serious collisions? We spend much of our time on our smartphones, snapping away photos at this, that, and everything, and increasingly our phone cameras are giving us tips about suggested focus points and camera modes.
Posted on 26 Dec 2021
Arrested development
Has the restricted development genre had its day? Let's start with a little Christmas Quiz and play spot the odd one out. Numerically, the Merlin Rockets are our most successful development class, but in this classic shot from a crowded Salcombe, can you recognise the one boat that ISN'T a Winder?
Posted on 23 Dec 2021
The Top 10 Sailing Stories of 2021 - The Top Five
The second and final part of Mark Jardine and Andy Rice's annual round-up It's the second and final part of Mark Jardine and Andy Rice's annual round-up of the 10 most read stories from 2021 on Mark's websites, YachtsandYachting.com and Sail-World.com.
Posted on 22 Dec 2021
Winter Solstice, SailGP, Cup news, Youth Worlds
Winter Solstice, SailGP news, Cup news, Youth Sailing World Championships Daylight is in short supply in the Northern Hemisphere, but we've already started waxing daylight. In time, this will mean a return to weeknight racing, distance racing, and that great feeling of knowing that the entire sailing season lays ahead.
Posted on 21 Dec 2021