Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Tauranga teens to compete at windsurfing world champs

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Veerle ten Have, left, and Max van der Zalm will compete at next month's Techno 293 World Championships in Italy. Photo/John Borren
Veerle ten Have, left, and Max van der Zalm will compete at next month's Techno 293 World Championships in Italy. Photo/John Borren

Tauranga teens Veerle ten Have and Max van der Zalm will take on the best young windsurfers in the world at the Techno 293 World Championships in Trentino, Italy next month.

The two Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club members were the reigning national under-17 champions and Kendall Cup holders, placing them at the top of New Zealand's youth talent pool.

Coached in Tauranga by Alex Hart, they competed in the under-17 division at last year's world championships also held in Italy.

They believed that experience would help them achieve higher placings next month.

Max, 16, finished sixth in the silver class last year but was disappointed to miss out on making the top 50 gold class category.

That was the clear goal for the Year 12 Aquinas College student this time around.

"I missed the gold fleet last year by two points which was disappointing but this year I really hope to get into the gold fleet and do my best," he said.

"It was a really good learning experience because seeing how competitive it is and what we needed to work on, what our strengths were, and what was needed to work on for next time.

"Hopefully this time we can learn from the mistakes and do better."

Winning the nationals off Murrays Bay in April was pleasing for Max but he was realistic about the small pool of top windsurfers in New Zealand.

"It is just good to improve and was good for building up before the worlds. Overseas youth fleets are very big so the skill level is much higher than New Zealand."

The Youth Olympics in Argentina in 2018 was his main motivating force, and he hoped a good performance in Italy would help him achieve that."That is what I am aiming for. I am training hard for that and there is only one boy and one girl selected from New Zealand."

Veerle, 15, who was in Year 10 at Mount Maunganui College, finished 48th at last year's worlds.

She said the biggest skill she learned was how to race under pressure she was not used to in New Zealand.

"I think racing-wise it was tactics and starts," she said.

"In New Zealand it is like a really small community in windsurfing and when you go over there suddenly there is like 60 or 70 people on the start line.

"So it is a lot more tactical and you have to be a lot more aggressive in bigger fleets.

"Now you know what it's like and what you are going to face there, then you have a better idea of what you have to practise and train."

Veerle had not set any specific goals as to where she would like to finish.

"I haven't thought about it too much but definitely want to do better than last year and would like to finish in the top half or top quarter even."

■ For more information about upcoming Learn to Windsurf courses at Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club email windsurfingattypbc@gmail.com

- Bay of Plenty Times

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