Kiwi SKUD 18’s crew member Gemma Fletcher says her first impressions of Halifax have been the pretty surroundings, the stunning lakes, light-houses and nice beer.
With day one of the North American Championships, and her first day of an international sailing regatta under her belt, her sights are now firmly set on qualifying New Zealand for the paralympic games.
Sailing with skipper Tim Dempsey, the pair cracked into their Canadian campaign yesterday with a bang – managing top five finishes in each of the four races sailed.
Shifty conditions didn’t dampen Gemma’s confidence as she took to the first competition day with a cool, calm approach.
“It’s really good to be sailing against different people and see how we match up. It was pretty shifty out there but I loved it, and am gaining confidence with my first regatta,” she says.
She says tactics are the talking point at the moment, and that will be their focus over the next few day of competition.
The team spent most of the day with the fleet leaders, even managing to “roll the brits” who were the 2012 bronze medalists, off one of the starts.
Coach Robbs Hielkema says the team has made a great start to the regatta.
“We had a really fun day on the water. It was good to touch base with the international skud fleet – it’s been the first time we’ve sailed against them since the Paralympic games in London,” he says.
He says the team has come a long way, with two years of training in Auckland in the four-skud fleet now being put to the test.
“It looks like we have made up some good ground on the fleet, which is nice to see. We’re looking forward to another shifty day on the water tomorrow,” he says.
The team is grateful for all the support they’ve received to get to this point.
“It’s amazing. Thank you heaps. I hope we do an awesome job – the plan still most definitely being to qualify New Zealand for the” she says.
Results from four races sailed were 5, 5, 3,
By Hana Morris