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Top RS:X sailors working out of Takapuna under Kiwi coaches

by Richard Gladwell, on 31 Mar 2016
Natalia Kosinska training with Peina Chen, Takapuna, March 31 2016 Richard Gladwell
Former NZL Sailing Team member, Natalia Kosinska, has put together her own program working with some of the world's top windsurfers and coaches in a bid to gain NZ Olympic nomination in the class she earned Olympic qualification back in September 2014.

The current world RS:X Women's Champion, Peina Chen and her training partner Zhichao Zhang have arrived in Auckland and will be sailing out of the Takapuna Boating Club for the next five weeks. It is not the first visit for Chen to Takapuna - she sailed in the 2008 RS:X Worlds off Takapuna Beach.

They will be coached by 2008 Olympic Gold medallist Tom Ashby (NZL), who also coaches Aichen Wang, Silver medallist in the 2015 RS:X World Championships in Oman. Chen’s training partner is no slouch either - Zhicao Zhang finished in fourth place at the 2015 World RS:X Men's Championships in Oman last November

Recently departed Yachting NZ board sailing coach, David Robertson is working with the Chinese for the five weeks they are in New Zealand.

Next week the Brazilian RS:X Women's representative for the 2016 Olympics, Patricia Freitas will also be based at Takapuna working with her new coach, JP Tobin, the 2012 NZ Olympic representative.

Tobin also qualified New Zealand for the 2016 Olympics in the first round of qualification in September 2014, but didn’t compete in the 2015 World Championships and was dropped from the 2016 NZL Sailing team.

The events post September 2014 drove JP Tobin to give away his 2016 Olympic campaign. He has now turned to the fulltime coaching ranks, joining Ashley and 2000 Olympic Bronze medallist Aaron McIntosh, who coached the 2012 Olympic Gold medallist Dorian van Rijsselberge (NED), all of whom are working with other nation’s teams.

Ironically JP Tobin finished ahead of Aichen Wang in the 2014 World Championships in Santander. One got the backing, the other did not.

Kosinska’s last chance for Olympic selection is the Sailing World Cup regatta in Hyeres, France, which runs from April 25 to May 1. To prepare for that event, she could not do better than to be able to work with the elite group of RS:X sailors and coaches who have assembled at Takapuna.

The Chinese are here to test gear in the one design class. At the Olympics, competitors are allowed to take their own fins and masts. Sails are supplied.

Robertson says they have bought about 15 fins with them to test at Takapuna and six masts.

“The gear is supposed to be one design, but these sailors can feel the differences, and we want to pick a fast set for the Olympics.”

Asked about the pedigree of his two charges for the next few weeks, and the fact that the Chinese side of the entry lists at major events is peppered with different names while the other countries tend to stick with just one or two competitors only.

“New Zealand doesn’t have a single professional windsurfer,” explains Robertson. “China has 50”.

A typical gear testing session in the RS:X will last about 90 minutes or three races.

“They are working at about 80% of race pace,” says Robertson.

Asked to translate that into heartbeats per minute, Kosinska says she works at 185-200bpm in a race. “But I’ve got a small heart, so it has to work harder,” she laughs.

Her role through to Hyeres will be as a training partner for Patricia Freitas. It’s an arrangement that many competitors slip into for the final build up to the Olympics.

For Kosinska, she gets the benefit of working with a full-time coach. “She’s capable of medaling at the Olympics,” Tobin told Sail-World, earlier this month.

The former ISAF World Youth Champion finished seven places behind Freitas at Santander in 2014, so they are reasonably evenly matched, and both with have the benefit of working with the current World Champion.

Asked why the top sailors come to Takapuna, instead of training at home. Kosinska says it is the coaches and conditions.

“It’s easier for them to come to New Zealand, the top coaches are all here, and we have great conditions for training. I’m very lucky.”

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