Westlake wins school regatta

Westlake Boys High School benefited from the expert advice of America’s Cup legends to take out their third Harken National Secondary Schools Keelboat Championships in four years.

11 April 2022


Dean Barker, Russell Coutts, Joey Allen and Matt Mason have all been a part of memorable sailing moments during the America’s Cup. Now, the four world-class sailors have passed their knowledge down to the next generation at the Harken National Secondary Schools Keelboat Championships in New Zealand.

Barker lent a helping hand to Diocesan School’s sailing program, where his daughter was representing the school. Mason coached the Takapuna Grammar crew with his son aboard. Coutts and Allen then teamed up to help the Kristin School team find their way on the water.

The four America’s Cup winners were out on the water last Friday as the first round of qualification racing took place on Waitemata Harbour. Other crews included Westlake Boys High School, Whangarei Boys High School, Sacred Heart College, Kings College and Michael Park School.


“There are no real expectations, we’re just trying to increase the depth of the sailing team at Dio,” said Barker on Friday.

“They have 50 girls from year seven to 13 which is fantastic. Their first time in a keelboat was on Wednesday, and they’ve all had to make the transition from single or double handed boats into the Elliott 7.”

The Harken National Secondary Schools Keelboat Championships was the first taste for many high school sailors moving into larger boats. A record number of 20 crews competed for this year’s title, which the senior sailors couldn’t have been happier with.

“The girls are having to be adaptable as sailors, so entering this competition with a new kind of sailing for them improves their overall sailing across all classes,” said Barker.

After the Auckland Team Sailing Championships, high school sailors have had a busy few weeks on the water. The teams have been training for both the double-handed 420 class that Team Sailing regattas and for the National Secondary Schools Team Sailing Championships sailed in later in April.

On top of this, the junior sailors dedicated a lot time to learning how to sail a five person Elliott 7 keelboat for the Harken National Secondary Schools Keelboat Championships.

Ten new teams took to the water for a jam-packed Finals Day on Sunday. The weekend was an incredibly important stepping stone for young sailors to make their first step into larger yachts.

“It’s also just cool to come out and watch our kids compete like we did, and by being out here we hope we can have a hand in continuing to develop New Zealand sailing,” said Barker.

Taking the top spot on Sunday was Westlake Boys High School Red, crewed by skipper Lucas Day and his crew of Robbie Woolridge, Levi Jenkins, Josh Hilder and Sam Clark.

“We had some challenging conditions all weekend, so we just kept things simple and consistent for Finals and performed when it counted,” said Day.

In the Gold Fleet, Westlake Red and runners up Saint Kentigern College stayed within touching distance going into the final race, with both teams tied on ten points.

The Nelson Combined team sat with a two-point lead. However, the team were disqualified from the final race alongside the Kerikeri Blue team for both being over the line at the start.

This meant that Westlake Red and Saint Kentigern College were put into a one race sprint that decided the champion, with Saint Kentigern taking second place.

A top team from the qualification racing, Coutts and Allen’s Kristin School had a tough start to the day with seventh place, but were able to find their consistency again, claiming third overall.

The Silver Fleet title was won by King’s College, helmed by Sam Scott.

“We weren’t happy with our performances on Friday in the light winds, and we had a few incidents where we were stuck on the pin,” said Scott.

“However, we put that behind us and came out with more energy and found our consistency, which carried us through the day.”

All crews developed as sailors during the Harken National Secondary Schools Keelboat Championships; being exposed to larger keelboat sailing meant some incredible sailing lessons were learnt, which will be taken to further competitions and next year’s Harken Championships.

“We’ll definitely be back to defend our title next year,” said Day.

“And we’ll try to bring home a threepeat to Westlake.”

It will take some serious sailing to wrest the title away from them in 2023.



  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement

  • Advertisement