Tauranga college students hoping to carve out international sailing careers have been given the perfect training tools - two brand new 420 racing dinghies named after their home-town heroes.
The Bay of Plenty Sailing Academy Trust yesterday christened two additions to their fleet of 420s, naming them after Tauranga Olympians Peter Burling and Andrew Murdoch.
"It's fantastic, we could not have done it without the support of the sponsors," Trust chairman Stuart Pedersen said at the naming ceremony carried out on the front lawn of the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club.
TECT and the Lion Foundation contributed $28,000 of the $36,000 needed to buy the two racing dinghies from world-leading Auckland 420 builder, Mackay Boats.
It boosts the trust's fleet of new or near-new 420s to six dinghies plus three older boats. Four more of the older dinghies have gone to Rotorua and the Port of Ohope Yacht Club.
The two-crew dinghies take part in match racing that was yachting's version of sevens rugby, with the students competing in back-to-back 10-minute races over a short course.
Mr Pedersen proudly showed the fleet's other yachts already bearing the names of Tauranga Olympians: Sam Meech, Molly Meech, Tom Saunders and Jason Saunders.
"We need good reliable boats and keeping the fleet fresh and up to date is pretty important," he said.
Mr Murdoch said it was a huge honour to get a 420 named after him. "It's pretty special to come down here for an event like this with our family."
Twin two and a half-year-old girls Esme and Nina and son Troy, 5, enjoyed the occasion with their parents.
Mr Murdoch was finished an engineering degree with the Auckland University of Technology which he said had huge cross-overs with yachting.
Peter Burling's parents Heather and Peter Burling were at the naming, with Mrs Burling saying it was an honour for her son who was currently preparing for the start of the Volvo Ocean Race in Spain. He will be crewing on Brunel.
She said yesterday's ceremony was more about Tauranga being such an amazing place to learn to sail.
"That was Peter's playground growing up. We got Peter into sailing because it was fun and a good skill set to have, not because we wanted him to become an Olympic champion.''
The part of the trust's sailing programme that "got her every time'' was encouraging Merivale Primary School kids into sailing.
Peter Burling's Olympic achievements
- Gold in 49er class 2016
- Silver in 40er class 2012
Andrew Murdoch's Olympic achievements
- Fifth in Laser class 2012
- Fifth in Laser class 2008