Queen Charlotte Yacht Club sailor Louie Poletti may be just 12-years-of-age, but he is no stranger to hard work, which is beginning to pay off as he rises up the national rankings.
Louie is one of four sailors selected into the New Zealand Optimist Dinghy team which will travel to the Nassau Yacht Club in The Bahamas to compete in the North American Championships from September 27 to October 4. He is the only South Islander in the team, with two of the other sailors living in Auckland and the other based in Singapore.
The team will depart Auckland on September 18, arriving early to acclimatise to the tropical heat and recover from jetlag prior to the event.
This will give them time to claim their charter boats, set them up to their own specifications and practice in Montagu Bay prior to the regatta. Montagu Bay, Nassau is a protected bay renowned for its reliable and steady winds.
The predicted conditions are expected to be windy so the seven-day regatta will be a test of endurance with the Kiwi contingent up against 150 sailors from 15 nations in North, South and Central America.
Prior to his departure, Louie is expected to attend several training camps in Auckland to prepare for the regatta as the New Zealand sailors are attending at the beginning of the New Zealand season and the North Americans are peaking at the end of their sailing season.
He will also be committed to training alone over the winter months from his home base in Picton, a regime that is not new to the self-motivated youngster.
Louie started sailing at the Queen Charlotte Yacht Club in 2015 and his progress has been rapid.
For the last two years he has been part of the New Zealand Optimist Development Sailing Team, a selection of the top five eleven and twelve-year-olds, that travelled to Noumea and competed in the New Caledonian National Championships.
This year Louie set his sights on improving his New Zealand ranking. To this end he spent countless hours training alone on the open waters of the Marlborough Sounds to optimise his fitness and master sailing in all conditions in preparation for the three ranking regattas in Napier, Picton, Maraetai (Auckland) and the New Zealand nationals in Murray’s Bay, Auckland.
His hard work has paid dividends, with Louie now ranked No 2 among 13-year-olds and 13th overall in New Zealand.
His latest selection comes with a large financial commitment. His trip will cost over $8000, plus the expense of attending numerous trainings in Auckland. To help raise money Louie is selling raffle tickets and boxes of kindling and plans to stage a Quiz Night Fundraiser at the Waikawa Boating Club.
A fellow Queen Charlotte Yacht Club sailor, 14-year-old Eden Amos, has also gained national recognition after being selected for the Girls’ Development Team that is travelling to the Noumean Nationals.