2018 has been a memorable year for Zealous Sailing (ZS) for all the right reasons. Becoming incorporated in Finland, earning a place as a Waszp ambassador, achieving top international results and attending international championships all serve as invaluable experiences as we continue to grow and have a positive impact on the sport of sailing and athlete development. Our coaches continue to lead by example, posting fantastic international results. Andrew, William and Scott's talent across multiple classes continues to add tremendous value to our coaching methodology and practices.
Zealous Sailing began 2018 with three training events across Australia, Spain and Italy. The Australian Optimist Nationals (7) , Palamos Trophy + Training Clinic (15) and the Lake Garda Easter Meeting + Training Clinic (19) served as key training events for the sailors who participated. With athletes participating from Australia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia and New Zealand the ZS Winter Programme was the most successful from both a participation, diversity and training perspective. ZS coaches Scott McKenzie, Tom Brewer and Elias Odrischinsky joined the international coaching team to provide world-class coaching support throughout the events.
“I have been very motivated to see our coaching services develop further. We continue to work hard to create a strong platform built on a passion for sailing and coaching. Scott, Tom and Elias added tremendous value to our winter events, season programmes and to achieving our long-term goals. I’m really happy they have become a part of the Zealous Sailing Team.” Said Sam McKenzie
April sparked the continuation of ZS’s Optimist and 29ers programmes with Helsinki club Brändö Seglare r.f (BS). The intensive Finnish regatta season yielded the most successful results to date with the BS Optimist team earning the title of Team Racing National Champions and Top Club Team in the domestic ranking series. In addition, 3 sailors qualified for the IODA World Championship and 1 for the IODA European Championship.
A strong domestic programme combined with regular international regattas was put in place to prepare youth athletes for the 29er European Championships held on ZS’s home waters in Helsinki. The programme paid off. With gold, silver and bronze medals across 29er EuroCup events in Gdynia, Kiel and Riva del Garda and a top 5 finish in the European Championship, the Finnish 29er sailors have earned themselves a well-respected position on the international 29er circuit.
In June Zealous Sailing Oy became incorporated in Finland in an effort to provide a more seamless and efficient service across the domestic and European market. Zealous Sailing Ltd's Performance Coaching Services, Strategic Season Programme and new Waszp Ambassadorship now have opportunity to grow and develop further across a broader market as a part of Zealous Sailing Oy. With clients currently in Finland and Ireland, 2019 presents an opportunity to provide and outstanding service and produce even better results.
In correspondence with ZS 29er programme, both female and male BS 29er teams qualified to represent Finland at the WS Youth World Championships in Texas over July. ZS Head Coach Sam McKenzie was fortunate to attend and lead the two 29er teams through the championship as a member of Sailing Team Finland. “Both teams had some excellent individual races. The conditions were challenging and the racing relentless! Unfortunately the guys nor girls walked away with a medal, but on their day they would’ve been there. A lot of lessons were learnt, I have no doubt that the sailors have walked away wiser and will carry their experiences forward.” said Sam.
But it was, ZS coach, Scott McKenzie, representing New Zealand, who walked away with a silver medal in the 29er class at the WS Youth World Championships, missing out to gold on count back. “It was a bit disappointing [to not win gold] but we came to Texas looking for a medal, and to take silver is amazing. We had our chances to win and almost got it. The Norwegians deserved to win.” Said Scott. After a successful 3 seasons in the 29er with skipper Seb Lardies, Scott has begun the transition from 29er to the Olympic 49er class.
In August, ZS coaches Andrew and William McKenzie participated in the Aarhus World Sailing Championships. A key performance event for both Andrew and William as they campaign towards the 2020 Olympic Games, both athletes had their eyes set on top performances. Andrew finished 28th  in the Men’s Laser and William [with skipper Isaac] finished 17th  in the 49er. “The world championship was important for me.” Said Andrew. “I needed a top result to prove my contention for the 2020 [Olympic] Games. I had some great moments, but just couldn’t string the top results together that I needed. After the championship, I did some long hard reflecting and decided that it was time to move on to new challenges.” Said Andrew. As a result, Andrew has put his Olympic sailing ambitions on hold, while pursuing an internship with ANZ Bank before moving to London in February 2019 to complete his Bachelor’s degree. Andrew will have greater involvement in Zealous Sailing’s European operations in the coming year.
Carrying on from their respectable result in the World Championship, William and skipper Isaac won the Red Bull Foiling Generation World Championship in Miami. An incredible result which is a testament to both William and Isaac’s hard work, talent and professionalism as aspiring Olympic athletes. “We’re super lucky to have had the opportunity to race against the best youth sailors in the world on some pretty awesome boats,” said William, “Stoked to take home the title.”
Outside of the Olympic sailing circuit, head coach, Sam McKenzie has had the opportunity to reconnect with his own sailing through the foiling Waszp. After travelling to Italy in June, Sam met with designer Andrew McDougall to learn the ins and outs of one design foiling. “I’ve really been enjoying my sailing.” Said Sam. “The foiling experience has been incredible.” Zealous Sailing Oy has also earned the title of Waszp Ambassadors for Finland. With the domestic fleet growing from 2 to 5 boats over the European summer it will be exciting to see how the fleet grows moving forward into 2019. “Now with over 700 boats worldwide, the Waszp is truly the most popular one design foiling class. Sailing alone is exhilarating. Sailing with friends is simply fantastic. The line-ups, the racing – it is a lot of fun.” Said McKenzie. “I hope we can really build the class in Finland!”
As the winter settles across Finland, the sailing season in Ireland just seems to be beginning. With over 14 full training days from October through to December, every weekend counts for the three young Irish sailors as they look forward to the 2019 World Championships. With the three sailors picking up a handful of national titles across the season in the UK & Ireland, accompanied with a top 20 overall finish at this year’s World Championships these young sailors are setting their standards high. “The lads love there sailing” said Sam. “October through December is pretty cold up in Ireland, but the lads are out there each and every weekend looking to take the next step forward. It’s an exciting project and we’re [Zealous Sailing] really looking forward to helping these lads achieve their goals.”
The last event for the year will take ZS coach, Sam, to Malta for the EuroMed regatta 19-22 December. After this, the ZS team of Scott, William, Andrew and Sam will find themselves together Christmas day on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula. “It will be great to see everyone after a busy year around the world. It has been great to see the lad’s throughout the year whether it be in Barcelona, Kiel or Texas, but there’s nothing like catching up by the beach over Christmas and sharing a few stories.” said Sam.
It has been a memorable year for Zealous Sailing Oy/Ltd for all the right reasons. “Our programmes and clinics have yielded the best results to date.” Said Sam. “Our coaches are delivering a great services to our youth athletes while continuing to prove themselves as world class sailors. We will carry this forward into 2019. We’re committed to delivering high performance coaching services and strategic programmes. As a coaching company we’ll continue to innovate and develop in an effort to provide our youth athletes with the best opportunity to achieve their goals.”