Sailing: Family success drives Hamish Willcox

By Dale Budge

Daniel Willcox and Paul Snow-Hansen after being named to the Rio Olympics. Photo / Getty Images
Daniel Willcox and Paul Snow-Hansen after being named to the Rio Olympics. Photo / Getty Images

Hamish Willcox was a world champion sailor himself and now he is preparing gold medal favourites Peter Burling and Blair Tuke at this year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

But Willcox is part of another team - his own family - who would have to be one of the most successful sporting families in New Zealand sport. His son Daniel is a medal chance heading to this year's Olympics as well while daughter Anna represented New Zealand at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014 and is one of the country's leading freestyle skiers.

Being the father of two Olympians puts Willcox in a very select club and is a massive thrill for him.

"Well of course you are immensely proud as a parent whenever your kids follow a dream and it is fulfilled," Willcox tells "I don't think it matters what your kids do if they are happy in doing it then you are a very satisfied parent.

"I think what they have attempted to do in trying to get medals for their country is very unique and requires a huge amount of determination and effort.

"I am very proud of what they have done."

Willcox senior, who won three world championship gold medals in the 470 class in the early 1980s, says it was no guarantee that son Daniel would naturally follow in his footsteps.

"Quite often it works the other way. When you have got a father and a family that is all involved in one thing then there is definitely a tendency for the kid to go in another direction. Certainly that is what happened with Anna - she didn't want a bar of sailing and she wanted to do her own thing in her own way and she went off and proved she could.

"With Daniel he has always had an incredible amount of talent but you remember the old age saying that talent is only your entry ticket you then need the hard work and determination to follow through and turn that talent into something that is capable of winning on the world stage.

"I am just so proud of them both for following it through and rising to the very to in their sport."

Keeping the family unit together is a challenge for the Willcox's, who obviously have Hamish and Daniel moving around the world, chasing warm, summer weather with their sailing while Anna is constantly in cold, wintery conditions ideal for skiing.

But Willcox says it is much easier these days.

"Skype is an amazing thing - we certainly live in an age of connectivity. Both myself and my wife have a very good relationship with the kids and we tend to be connected with both of them on a daily basis.

"I have been very lucky and feel very privileged to have travelled with Daniel to these regattas and actually be a part of coaching him and bringing him along and that is a unique opportunity and is something I will cherish.

"With Anna it is a different game. I am not with her at her side but I am certainly there living the events she does emotionally."

- NZ Herald

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