Setting sail with inspirational sports leaders

20 Mar 2023

An Olympic sailing gold medallist, a superstar rugby player, and a leading New Zealand cricketer have shared their experiences and sports lessons with students during the SailGP inspirational sporting programme at Lincoln University. Now, Christ’s College student Hayden Douglass shares his own experience of the day.

When myself, along with about 10 other College Year 11 boys, arrived at Lincoln University for the SailGP inspirational sporting programme day, we were all very excited. It was an opportunity to learn more about the international sailing event and leadership in sport.

However, the first challenge of the day was actually finding the hall where the event was being held. We were soon welcomed inside and urged to have a chat with the leading sports people there for the day.

When we entered the hall, I looked around and saw several famous faces, such as New Zealand cricketer Todd Astle, Olympic medallist and SailGP adviser Nathan Outteridge, and Black Ferns star Kendra Cocksedge. A few boys, including myself, went up to have a chat with Kendra about the SailGP event and her career. She was a really friendly person and even showed us her Rugby World Cup gold medal and let us hold it. Something I never thought I would do that day.

We took our seats as Todd Astle welcomed us. He introduced everyone and then we listened as the speakers talked about who they were and what they did. First up, Nathan Outteridge came to the stage and talked about the SailGP competition, which really captured everyone’s attention, including mine.

Nathan explained how the boats worked, why they were designed that way and what the race was all about and how certain boats in the past approached the challenge. He also spoke about how he had approached certain races, which was all interesting.

We were then split into groups, with usually two schools in each group. We were instructed to go from station to station, looking at – and asking questions about – certain equipment or just ways of doing things. Some stations had damaged equipment from past SailGP boats. One steering wheel – with its many buttons and complicated appearance – fascinated me.

However, the thing that really stood out was the materials used on the boats. There was a range of materials, with some looking like honeycombs on the inside and feeling as light as a feather while others were stone-hard metals that kept the boat together.

Overall, the whole day and learning experience was really enjoyable for everyone. We had an excellent time and would do it all again.

SailGP is an international sailing competition using high-performance F50 foiling catamarans. Grand prix events are held around the world, including Lyttelton Harbour.