Wakatere 2021 Starling Nationals report -
Driving home from the finish day of the Starling Nationals held at Kohi this week, we were pondering what actually are all the ingredients that go into creating such an outstanding list of results from one club?
It's never one thing that creates a winning team but instead a raft of small things combined over a long period of time to form a sort of tidal wave effect in one direction (or if we're not careful - in the other direction).
If we step back a few years and look at what the Wakatere ingredients have been in order to produce a happy and satisfied group of quality young sailors in the Wakatere Starling 'Gang', where do we begin...
Images: Josh McCormack - 2021 Starling Nationals
Perhaps we start with being fortunate in the past to have had a few young sailors come through that have set an especially high benchmark of ability and commitment at the club. In particular, Luke Cashmore not only produced an outstanding set of results himself during his time in the Starling but was then committed to sharing those skills by coaching the class for the 2019/20 season. Perhaps coinciding with Luke's relaxed yet personal approach to coaching came a shift in group culture where the importance of learning the technicalities of sailing were balanced with an emphasis on creating a relaxed and social atmosphere, not only between sailors but parents also. A lot of sailors having come through the Opti class where coaching is intensive and ranking a priority, suddenly find a new enjoyment for sailing where pressure is removed, individual progress rewarded and team involvement feels like an important new measure.
We've been lucky to have great coaches again this season with Tom Saunders & Liv Mackay who have continued the quality coaching with a low-key approach. While we all knew the Nationals date, in training there was minimal focus on that as a single target or goal and more emphasis placed just on the continued development of sailors - after all, it's just another regatta with plenty more to follow.
Images: Josh McCormack - 2021 Starling Nats
We are also fortunate to have an experienced group of parents who have a wealth of knowledge to pass on to the group. Wonderfully though, they also understand that sometimes less is more, and rather than providing an intense information overload, this is the age and class where stepping back and letting our young sailors find their own feet is often more important than hand-holding them to the finish line.
At Wakatere there is an increasing mindset that winning is more than just standing on the podium - it's about recognizing each sailor's individual successes and improvements from tip to toe within the class. It's about a group culture where sailors enjoy each other's company on and off the water and a fun social dynamic is just as enjoyable as the sailing itself, where parents begin to take a back seat to their sailors' decisions and support the success of others as well as their own.
On Day 2 of the Nationals, this team spirit was clearly evident with 4 races held in 25-30knots and a punishing sea state producing an exhausted fleet - Wakatere sailors and parents were full of tales of survival and endurance and I saw so many rushing back down the beach to help others, back-slapping and congratulating each other simply for surviving the day as much as their line honours of the day.
One thing is for sure - the Wakatere Starling Gang is a fantastic group & they have done us all proud not only in their podium results at Nationals this year but in representing Wakatere as a whole.
Full results - http://kyc.org.nz/2020-2021/
Greg & Delayne Salthouse
Wakatere Starling Class Reps