Sailing: Hansen continuing on path to Rio 2016

By Cameron Leslie

Blair Tuke will be watching his skiff as Whangarei's Marcus Hansen aims to be the next Northland Olympic medallist.

The 20-year-old Hansen, who races against Tuke in the 49er class, is currently ranked second in New Zealand alongside his sailing partner Josh Porebski.

Hansen said a keen interest from his father has turned into an Olympic dream.

"He'd [Hansen's father] done a bit of sailing and he took me to the local sailing club, [which was] the Parua Bay Cruising Club," explained Hansen.

"It all just went from there. I learnt to sail and all of a sudden was going to Taipa, and then was going to Auckland every weekend."

Hansen is another product of the School of Emerging Talent (SET) in Whangarei which saw him balance study around training, without losing the importance of education.

Thanks to SET, Hansen was able to complete his final year of schooling by correspondence and was spending three to four days each week in Auckland training.

"I found it perfect for what I was trying to achieve. Obviously I didn't have time in the day to attend classes but [SET] made schoolwork flexible around my sailing."

Hansen's most credible finish on the international scene was a sixth placing at the 49er World Championships last year just before the Olympics, in an event where a number of London Olympians competed.

While some may think this could have warranted Olympic selection, Hansen is quick to put the placing into perspective.

"We weren't actually that close to qualifying. There were three selection events to get to the games [Sail for Gold 2011, Perth 2011, and World Champs] and two of them I didn't do because I didn't have a committed crew.

"I'd had about three guys in my boat since sailing the 49er from end of 2009 and didn't have quite the right fit."

Hansen said his partners did not have the same goals and aspirations as him until he teamed up with Porebski in August 2011.

Hansen's sister, Jenna, is also a sailing ace, having represented New Zealand at the London Olympics alongside Tuke.

"I've always looked up to my sister and watched her, and watched her journey," said Hansen, who travelled to London to support Jenna. "[But] there's a big gap between me and my sister."

Hansen is currently living in Auckland studying for a bachelor of science and has three trips to Europe on the cards this year, totaling over eight weeks.

All of the trips will be building towards World Championships in 2014 which will determine how many sailing spots are available to New Zealand for the Rio Olympics.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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