Sailing: Rippey follows wake of greats to title

Tauranga Yacht Club member Trent Rippey won the under-19 Starling Nationals in Picton during the school holidays to continue an extraordinary run of domination in the unique event by Tauranga sailors.

The Year 12 Tauranga Boys' College student's victory is the fifth time a Tauranga sailor has won the Starling Nationals men's event since 2005 and the 12th podium position overall. Peter Burling won in 2005 and 2006, Jason Saunders in 2007 and Thomas Saunders in 2009. Previously Tauranga's Nathan Bax won in 1996. Laura Hemingway (2008) and Molly Meech (2009) have won the women's race.

The Starling Nationals is the largest single handed under-19 national youth class, and the boat is specific to New Zealand with fleets of over 100 boats competing.

The unusual-shaped trophy that Rippey won has a list of New Zealand sailing royalty names inscribed on it, including Russell Coutts, Craig Monk, Dan Slater and Simon Cooke.

"It is always good to win I guess and feels good to get my name on the trophy. It will be there forever," said Rippey.

"I just want to go as far as I can, to the Olympics and America's Cup, and carry on with it and try and go pro."

Rippey, 16, says he has been inspired growing up with the Boys' College old boys who have gone on to bigger and brighter things.

"It definitely has been good, like having Peter [Burling] making the Olympics for the second time, and others like Thomas [Saunders] and those guys nailing it as well."

Rippey set a pace too good for anyone else at the week-long regatta and won comfortably despite finishing outside the top places in his final three races.

"The races I got those positions I was beating the people I needed to beat, like the guys in second and third were behind me in all three races, so I knew it was all good."

Rippey has only recently moved into the single Starlings after strong performances in the 29er class. He and Aucklander Alex Munro finished eighth at the ISAF Youth Worlds in Ireland, before Rippey joined up with younger brother Cole.

The brothers sailed most of the season together and finished a creditable second at the 29er Nationals.

Cole at 13 is a highly promising sailor in his own right. He is a renowned P Class Tanner Cup sailor and won the regional secondary schools team racing and came second at the nationals.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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