By Te Ahua Maitland
Wintec Journalism student
It was only natural for Tom Haycock to get into yachting when his older brother Hamish left for boarding school.
Instead of asking for his room or his clothes like most younger siblings, Tom only wanted one thing: his boat.
“He went away so couldn’t really do it anymore,” he said, adding that it seemed only natural to pick up the sailing bug: “since we had all the gear and I’d been following him around for ages and knew a lot about it.”
Making things a little trickier is where Haycock lives. The 11-year-old – who turns 12 tomorrow – lives a long way from the sea in Marotiri, a small rural town in the central North Island.
He does all his sailing 20mins away on Lake Taupo, where he trains three times a week with the Taupo Yachting Club.
This is the first year sailing has been included at the NZCT AIMS Games, which has attracted more than 8000 intermediate-aged athletes to Tauranga for a week-long tournament involving 19 codes.
The Year 8 student is the sole participant from Marotiri School, competing against 63 other participants from around New Zealand.
And Haycock hopes to celebrate his twelfth birthday with a win on the water.
“That would be cool!”
Event organiser and Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club Commodore and Nigel Rippey said they had been talking about the idea of including sailing for a number of years, and were happy to see it get off the ground.
“It’s really good for the club and it’s really good for showcasing yachting to Year 7 and 8 students,” he said.
He said the club had a good base of younger sailors and hoped to increase those numbers.
“We’re always driving to get younger people into sailing,” he said.
The Tauranga club is the home of Olympic sailor Peter Burling, who will present the yachting medals tomorrow.
Rippey said although it wasn’t the perfect time of the year for yachting, it was still exciting to launch the sport at the games.
“It’s a heck of a lot easier in the summer. The weather now is a bit more unpredictable and cold, so we’re just crossing our fingers that we get some nice weather.”