Nelson sailor Georgia Schokking aboard the starling that capsized in her first regatta. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Georgia dreams of conquering the sea

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With winds exceeding 40 knots per hour, wild four-metre waves and a whirlpool tide, Georgia Schokking was having a rough introduction to her first Starling sailing regatta.

After capsizing, Georgia had to abandon her boat and was picked up by the rescue crew.

Her yacht disappeared in the swell.

As the waves battered her boat, it seemed the vessel was lost to the sea. But, miraculously, it survived unscathed.

“We couldn’t see it,” she says. “It had drifted a lot, but we eventually found it and it was fine. Many people that day lost their sails and their masts snapped that day, I was lucky.”

However, the experience didn’t dent her confidence and it has been much smoother sailing ever since. “It was terrifying but exhilarating,” the 16-year-old says.

It is this sort of attitude that may well see her become the youngest Kiwi in history to sail around the world.

The prodigy says she was inspired to make the trip by her idol, Dutch sailor Laura Decker, who is the youngest to ever sail around the world solo at just 14.

The two-year journey is one Georgia hopes to undertake in the next few years.

While changing tides and marine life aren’t of much concern, it is pirates that will be the biggest worry for Georgia.

“I watched Captain Phillips the other day, so I am a bit worried about pirates.”

The Nelson College for Girls student only began her esteemed sailing career five years ago and has already cemented herself as one of the best young guns in the country.

The Nelson College for Girls student recently won a scholarship to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s popular Nespresso National Youth Training Week at Kawau Island this month.

Nespresso will pay the entire fee for Georgia to attend the week after she was selected from a large group of talented young applicants.

“Living in Nelson means it is always expensive to travel for sailing and this is going to make a world of difference.”

This will be Georgia’s second NYT week having also attended last summer and she is more than ready to take her sailing knowledge and skills to another level.

Usually a skipper, Georgia hopes to expand her skillset.

“At this year’s training week, I am wanting to gain a larger understanding of the different roles, specifically bow and trim, I also want to really improve my boat handling on a larger boat.”

All the competitive sailing during the week will be completed in seven-metre Elliott’s which suits Georgia who has racked up plenty of experience sailing Elliot’s as well as Optimists, Starling’s and 420’s.

In 2017, she was judged as the best female centreboard sailor at the Nelson Yacht Club and was selected to be the Nelson regional representative at the Starling National Match Racing Competition.

Georgia says as well as sailing the world, she also hopes to sail for her country one day.