Sailing: Sellers has wind in his sails again for shot at World Masters

Rex Sellers won gold with Chris Timms at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Photo / Supplied
Rex Sellers won gold with Chris Timms at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Photo / Supplied

Rex Sellers admits he's got the sailing bug again.

It was an affliction he had for a number of years, collecting a couple of Olympic medals along the way as he established himself as one of the world's best Tornado sailors, but he didn't do much competitive sailing after the 1996 Atlanta Games.

The fact Auckland will soon host the World Masters Games changed all that, and Sellers admits he couldn't pass up the opportunity to compete.

He will line up in the great grand masters category (65-74 years) Weta class, a trimaran that Sellers describes as a cross between a skiff and a catamaran but with "training wheels" with small hulls on each side of the main hull.

"It's going to be a bit of fun," the 66-year-old says, before adding he "won't be going out to make up the numbers".

"I go out there to win."

Sellers did a fair bit of that in his career as an Olympic sailor.

He won gold with Chris Timms at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and followed that up with silver in Seoul four years later.

Sellers narrowly missed out on a medal in Barcelona, with Brian Jones as his crew, and the pair finished 15th at Atlanta in 1996 when Sellers was 46.

That was his last serious regatta before he was "dragged" back in the boat by his son Brett to race at the 2008 Tornado world championships off Takapuna, won by Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby and Darren Bundock. The Sellers finished 30th out of 51 starters, just behind Bruce Kendall and a young Blair Tuke.

Sellers is not the only well-known individual competing in the sailing at the World Masters Games, with a handful of former Olympians, America's Cup sailors and veterans of the Volvo Ocean Race including Peter Lester, Tony Rae, Dan Slater, Chris Sharp and Andrew May all lining up at Torbay across the three classes - weta, laser and laser radial.

Well-known businessman Stephen Tindall will also compete against Sellers.

Sellers started training in the Weta about four months ago and admits it's taken time to get used to having to do everything on the boat.

"I've got a bit more going on than usual - lots to hold - and it's taken a bit of practice to get it all right," he says. "But I'm going pretty well at the moment. When it comes down to it, it's just another boat."

Boats have been Sellers' life. When he wasn't sailing, he was a commercial fisherman and it's his understanding of the ocean which helped his sailing career.

A rival was once asked why he couldn't beat Sellers and he replied, "it's hard to beat a man when the wind and the waves are his friend".

Sellers once thought about becoming a professional sailor and after the 1984 Olympics approached former All Black-turned agent Andy Haden, who quickly replied, 'listen Rex, there will never be any money in yacht racing'.

Fellow 1984 gold medallist Sir Russell Coutts, who is worth more than $55 million, might disagree.

- NZ Herald

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