Nelson sailor Noah Malpot recently won his first national championship, just.
The 14-year-old took out the optimist class at the eighth annual Sir Peter Blake Regatta in Auckland last week. Noah says conditions were ideal at Torbay for the two-day regatta.
“It was about 15 knots with a small chop, textbook conditions – very similar to what we get here in the harbour in Nelson, so I was well prepared.”
Sitting in the top spot after five of seven races, Noah suffered a major setback in the penultimate event.
“My hull straps broke so I had to retire.” This saw Noah drop to second as it all came down to the last race. “I got away to a good start and was able to hold position between the other sailors and finish line. It was very high pressure.”
Noah pipped his rivals by just one point, winning by less than a metre.
“I was very happy because it was very close.”
The result will fill the young sailor with confidence as he now prepares for the Auckland Championships at the start of January with the goal of qualifying for the World Championships.
“They will be at Lake Garda Italy. I have been there before, it’s a very nice place to sail.”
Before getting on the water, Noah takes about 30 minutes to rig up his boat. He says, though it’s quite a long time to get ready, he would do it every day if he could.
“It’s always worth it.”
His love of sailing saw him forgo Christmas and birthday presents for three years to buy his first boat.
“I was asking for nothing but money to save up, I was pretty committed.”
Noah’s career began up north when he was living in the Bay of Islands next door to New Zealand Olympic gold medalist Blair Tuke.
“He is a pretty famous sailor and so he inspired me to get started and I haven’t looked back since.”
He says his dream is to one day sail for Team New Zealand or in the Volvo Ocean Race. The Nelson Yacht Club member says he thrives on the challenge of being at sea.
“You’re just by yourself, there’s not much between you and the ocean, you’re completely in control – but also not.”
Noah manages to get on the water at least five times a week, or just whenever the wind will allow. The result shows the progress the young sailor has made in just under 12 months, after finishing second at the Auckland Championships in February.
Noah will graduate from the Optimist class next year to the 420’s fleet racing.
“I wasn’t sure, it’s hard to keep track of yours and the oppositions totals but I knew I had done well.”