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Hot on the heels of North Shore sailors playing a part in Emirates Team New Zealand regaining the America’s Cup, we have discovered some exciting new local yachting talent in local twins – and Westlake Girls pupils – Brianna and Courtney Reynolds-Smith, who sail out of the Murrays Bay Sailing Club. They are about to embark on their biggest challenge yet, the 470 Youth World Championships in Enoshima, Japan. Their ultimate goal is building up to get the nomination for the Olympic’s, also in Japan in 2020. Channel Mags Aidan Bennett put these questions to them during July.
AIDAN BENNETT: How did you both get into sailing?
BRIANNA REYNOLDS-SMITH: We both got into sailing when we were 10 years old following our older brother Aaron’s footsteps. We started out in the 15 and under Optimist class travelling all over the country doing different regattas. It really was an amazing way to see the country as youngsters. Our passion started from there.
AB: Who are your coaches and what does your training regime involve?
BRS: We are privileged to be coached by so many great Olympic sailors and coaches in NZ to teach us what we need to know. However our most consistent coach is Andrew Brown, who has worked with us for some time now. We have a fitness guru called Nicholas Gill who is getting us into great form, which we fit around our sailing regime. We sail as many times a week as we can and also manage some deserved rest days.
AB: Where do you get your funding and general financial support from?
COURTNEY REYNOLDS-SMITH: We have been lucky to get some support from Kingspan Insulated Panels, and also Gull Sport who have been generous to us. Then, also our parents are very supportive as well.
AB: Any particular sailors or sports people you take inspiration from?:
CRS: There are so many talented sailors to take inspiration from. Firstly, our brother Aaron has always been an inspiration, and then our Olympic idols Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie. We have always been impressed by not only their results but they way they handled their boat around the race course.
AB: Murrays Bay must be a pretty good club as well?:
BRS: Murrays Bay Sailing Club is a great club. Just awesome people, a great facility and a mint place to sail. We are very lucky to be part of such a fantastic organisation.
AB: You are both in year 13 at Westlake, are you good at school stuff as well?
CRS: Certainly. We love to get good grades at school and learn. We both got Excellence Endorsement in NCEA last year which we were pretty happy with. Brie is also a CEO of a start up business called ‘Juno’ as well.
AB: What made you change from the 420 to 470 class?
CRS: We reached the point where we felt our learning was limited in the 420 class. We had a good result at the AON Youth World Championships at Torbay in December last year, where we got eighth, not too far from medalling. So with the opportunity to move into the 470 class, it was a timely step up.
AB: We heard you guys are now sailing a pretty fast boat that used to be Olympic gold and silver medallists Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie’s?
BRS: It’s really special. The boats pedigree pushes us everyday to be better and train harder. We know it’s possible to be the best, Jo and Polly have shown us that. To sail their winning boat and also have had some coaching from them gives us confidence to tackle Olympic racing.
AB: Have you been to Japan before, what are you expecting and when do you leave?
BRS: No we haven’t been to Japan before so that will be an exciting new experience. Racing wise, we are preparing ourselves for racing in a stronger fleet, and learning quickly as we don’t have as much competition here in New Zealand. We leave on August 10th.
AB: You’ve done a bit of travel over the last year or so, tell us about the countries and regattas you have been to?
CRS: Yes, we are very fortunate to have travelled to Europe last year to race in the 420 youth class. We went to Northern France for their National Championship, and flew to San Remo Italy for the 420 World Championships, where we were second Australasian and fourth in the Silver Fleet. It was a brilliant trip.
AB: Were you please with how you went in the Aon World Sailing Champs held at Torbay late last year?
BRS: As Courtney said we got eighth in the end. We were looking promising the whole regatta to get a top 10 finish. In the last race, we were going in tight on points with the top nine boats, however our eighth place finish in the race meant we finished where we did. Even though we were so close to a top five finish, we still exceeded our expectations and are proud of that.
AB: You clearly have a pretty close relationship?
CRS: Haha. We do spend a lot of time together, it’s a miracle we get on so well and have the same passion and drive. You can say we take team building challenges to a new level. It does make us a strong and determined team so we feel grateful to have one another.
Channel Magazine: Issue 79 August 2017