Karori's Sarah Dunckley last night won the Hansa Liberty Class world competition in Medemblik, Holland. Hansa class boats are built to a universal design and are used worldwide by sailors with disabilities.
From a fleet of 31 competitors from about 12 countries, the 39-year-old managed an unexpected result to come in nine points ahead of her nearest rival, Azmi Ani of Malaysia. Dunckleys final result included six first and two second placings.
Dunkley originally had no plans to enter the competition, despite having won the New Zealand title earlier in the year, but she spotted a cheap airfare and that swung the decision.
The Hansa World regatta is held annually and competition is sailed in four different designs of Hansa yachts, including the SKUD 18, which is the Paralympics two-person yacht. Dunkley sails in the Liberty class, which is a four-metre-long, one-person craft.
Dunkley sails for both Sailability Wellington, and the Evans Bay Yacht and Motor Boat Club. She is competitive in the Hartley 16 class as well as the Hansa Class boats, where she often competes with disabled sailors and provides volunteer support for many who are learning the ropes.
Sailability Wellington chairman Warren Rankin said, "This is an amazing achievement. Although Sarah won the New Zealand title, none of us expected that she would win the world title and beat the favourites so resoundingly.
"What makes it all the more amazing is that she decided to enter at the last minute and had expectations of winning. We are delighted for her."