Sailing: Oscar ready to take on world

By Martin Lang

Raw talent saw him dominate national P class racing and as he prepares for two world-class regattas, Oscar Rorvik is showing all the commitment of a potential future star.

Heading to Europe this month for the 420 world championships and junior European titles, the Tauranga teen has spent the past 10 weeks in Picton, practising intensively with sailing partner Taylor Burn.

Teaming up only days before February's Sail Auckland regatta, the duo finished third and backed that result up with fourth at the 420 nationals at Lyttelton a few weeks later.

The combined showing earned them qualification for the European 420 juniors, to be held at Lake Garda, Italy from August 9-17. With entry to the 420 worlds, to be staged at Austria's Lake Neusiedl from July 27 to August 5, open to allcomers, the pair will head to Austria a week earlier for final preparation.

Former rivals in the single-handed divisions, Rorvik and 16-year-old Burn are forging a close partnership, the Burn family hosting Rorvik in Picton and Burn's dad Rob serving both as team manager and driver on regular trips to Auckland for further coaching.

Though well on course, the boys' partnership hardly came about through extensive planning.

"It was a last-minute thing," Rorvik says. "Before Sail Auckland I was thinking about who I wanted to sail with. He'd won the Splash world title [in Czech Republic] last year. I asked him if he wanted to sail with me and he was keen.

"We'd sailed against each other a lot in P class, and he'd won the Optimist nationals in 2009."

One of Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club's rising stars, Rorvik achieved a rare P class double in winning the Tauranga Cup and Tanner Cup in 2009 and represented New Zealand at the European Optimist championships in Slovenia. He has finished top-three in the Starling nationals the past three years, placing second this year due to a starting penalty.

"We've clicked pretty well," he says of the combination with Burn. "Our personalities are similar, we're both aggressive in our sailing and have a bit of attitude. In saying that, we still work really well together.

"We have moments and situations where things don't go right and we get a bit annoyed but we have ways through that and always get back on our feet."

The pair are out on the Marlborough Sounds waters four afternoons a week, Rorvik finishing work at a Picton boatbuilding firm at 2pm to rig up the yacht so that when Burn gets out of school they can make the most of the remaining daylight. Burn has represented New Zealand overseas in Optimist, Laser and national secondary schools teams events.

The duo also make regular weekend forays to Auckland, where they train under Yachting New Zealand coach Jim Maloney.

"He says it was crazy how much progress we made from the nationals to even two weeks afterwards, and that since then we've got so much better. He says we've really got the potential to do well."

Moving up to two-handed sailing in the 420 class last year, Rorvik entered this year's 470 world titles at Takapuna with former world Optimist and Splash champ Chris Steele of Auckland to boost his experience. "I learnt a lot, especially about communication. Chris was constantly talking in the boat. I also saw how important it is to keep your head out of the boat so you can see everything that's going on."

Former Austrian Olympic triallist Tobias Koeb, who coached at Picton's Queen Charlotte Yacht Club in 2007/08, knows the Lake Neusiedl venue intimately and the pair will tap into his expertise on arriving in Austria.

Rorvik expects Lake Neusiedl's flat-water conditions to be similar to what the duo have been training in but with more consistent breeze, while Italy's Lake Garda is known for shifty wind conditions, similar to the Sounds.

The former Otumoetai College student has been fitting in gym work, swimming and even boxing to maximise his stamina.

Seeing the ultimate in single-handed sailing was what spurred Rorvik to learn the ropes.

"The Around Alone race had a stop in Tauranga in 2003, I went down to see all the boats coming into the marina. That got me interested and I learnt to sail the next year."

With Burn's father Rob accompanying the pair to Europe, the cost of the trip is about $32,000 so fundraising is to the fore.

Boosting the campaign coffers has been a dinner and auction night in Picton with three-time Olympic rep sailor and 1992 New Zealand Olympic Chef de Mission Ralph Roberts as guest speaker. A movie night, sausage sizzles and other enterprises will also help the cause.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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