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A rejuvenated Timberwolf stalks the Coastal Classic fleet again

by Suzanne McFadden/Newsroom 20 Oct 14:20 PDT 21 October 2020
Liz Alonzi with her bright green trimaran, Timberwolf on her mooring at Northcote © Photo supplied

She brought back a once-mighty trimaran from the dead, and now 'still green' sailor Liz Alonzi is about to race Timberwolf in one of the world's iconic coastal yacht races.

Liz Alonzi lovingly calls her “Wolfy… with a Y” – the unmistakable bright green trimaran with a snarling wolf on her bow, sitting placidly on the Waitemata Harbour.

Together they'll hunt down the leaders in the iconic Coastal Classic yacht race from Auckland to Russell on Friday.

It’s still a fresh relationship. Just six years after she started learning to sail, 31-year-old Alonzi now owns this 10.6 m speed machine - once among the quickest in New Zealand.

In the past six months, she’s brought Timberwolf “back from near dead” – spending hundreds of hours working on the multihull, on top of her job as a software engineer. It’s been a true labour of love.

And at the same time, her determination and enthusiasm has rejuvenated an entire class of multihulls.

“I’ve been in love with her ever since I bought her. Even with all the weed on her bottom, she was the coolest boat,” Alonzi says.

The commodore of the NZ Multihull Yacht Club, Greer Houston, has been amazed by Alonzi’s passion and was “stoked” when she asked him to sail Timberwolf with her in the PIC Coastal Classic - a race the trimaran once won.

“It’s very impressive what she’s done,” Houston says. “It’s quite a prestigious boat that hadn’t had a lot of love, and she’s been giving it quite a lot in the last few months.

“It’s a huge undertaking for someone who hasn’t had a lot of sailing experience, but she’s so willing to learn. And that’s definitely got other people enthused in the larger multihulls – so there’s quite a good turnout in the race this time for the 10-metre boats. It’s really regenerated that division of the race.”

Alonzi’s sailing addiction goes further than Wolfy. She’s on the committee of the NZ Multihull Yacht Club, who organise the Coastal Classic, now in its 38th year.

And she’s training to become a course marshall in this summer’s America’s Cup on the Hauraki Gulf; learning to lay course markers for racing.

The American-born Alonzi has been enthralled with multihulls ever since she moved to New Zealand in 2016. It was a brave step she took simply because she wanted to go sailing.

Growing up, she didn’t play a lot of sport but was always active. While at the University of Iowa – “in the cornfields of America” - she took up cycling, riding long distances on gravel roads.

“Then I was living in Chicago and I started to go stir crazy in the concrete jungle. There’s not a lot of nature there – you have to hunt it out,” she says. So in 2014, she started sailing lessons.

For the rest of this story click here to go to The Lockerroom on Newsroom.co.nz

Suzanne McFadden is the editor of LockerRoom, dedicated to women's sport.

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