Sharon Ferris: High achiever giving back to youth

The Northern Advocate People's Choice Award category in the Konica Minolta Northland Sports Awards is focusing on past Olympians. We have been profiling the 13 Olympians you will be asked to vote on, starting from tomorrow when all 13 Olympians will feature again, with voting information.

The winner will be announced at the awards on November 30. Today ... Sharon Ferris.

Sharon Ferris is another product of the Bay of Islands/Kerikeri sailing culture that has proved so successful in New Zealand and internationally.

Ferris was a trail blazer in women's yachting circles, not only competing at two Olympic Games but also featuring in several open water events, including crewing on an all women's team in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Most of her open water feats were achieved offshore and didn't always get the publicity they deserved in New Zealand.

In particular, she broke a swag of world speed records and also sailed around the world in the 110 foot-Maxi Cat Maiden II, non-stop in just 64 days.

She qualified for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games in the one-person dinghy and recovered from a poor start to finish achingly close to the medals in fifth.

After missing out on Sydney 2000, she formed a crew for the new Yngling class and despite having no history of the class in New Zealand, led the team to seventh at Athens 2004.

Ferris then took the crew to an ISAF number-one Yngling ranking in 2007, including a silver medal at the world championships, but narrowly missed out on selection for Beijing after having an inconsistent 2008.

She remains involved in the sport and continues to coach - including helping to coach the next generation of Kerikeri High School sailors - while raising a family and running a kids' clothing business.

- Northern Advocate

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