Tauranga's Veerle ten Have is a big believer in it never being too late to try a new sport.

If she wasn't, the 17-year-old she would probably never have tried boardsailing at the end of 2014 after focusing on hockey, horse riding and other sports.

But, just months after trying her hand at the new sport she was representing New Zealand at the Techno 293 world championships in Italy as a 14-year-old Mount Maunganui College student - and that would be the first of many impressive achievements in her boardsailing career.

Her latest is being named the Aon Emerging Talent Award winner at the annual Volvo Yachting Excellence Awards, held at Auckland's Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on Friday night. She also picked up a performance award, as did fellow Tauranga sailor
Sam Meech.

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Friday was her first time attending the awards, describing it as a "really cool experience".

"I'm pretty stoked, it's pretty unexpected really," ten Have says about her wins, especially considering "there's so many amazing" athletes in her sport.

She's feeling pretty excited that she has been able to continuously showcase her talents as a board sailor and believes her progress in the sport is the reason she has been recognised.

This year has been a big one for ten Have.

"I think this year I just really got a lot more time to fully focus on the sport," she says.

As New Zealand's top female board sailor, she represented New Zealand at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, scored a silver medal at July's Youth Sailing World Championships in the United States, finishing only two points behind Great Britain's Islay Watson, and won her division at the Oceania Championships in Brisbane in January.

She loved being able to experience the Youth Olympic Games but found it really tough because she had to compete with a techno board, which is better suited to smaller athletes in the beginning stages of the sport.

She said, as a teenager who measured 173cm, she was about 20kg heavier than some of her opponents, which meant she was unable to build as much speed.

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The games are just on of the many highlights ten Have has experienced in the sport she has only been doing for four years and encourages anyone considering trying a new sport to do so.

"I think if you want to do something just go out and give it a go."

"My brother did it, he kind of got me in to into it, and it was social and just for fun."

"There was an opportunity for me to go to my first world champs back on the techno in my first year."

Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie said the success at youth level, including ten Have's, makes him "really optimistic for the future".

At the moment ten Have, who studies through correspondence, is in her off-season, and will sit her final examination today.

"I work from home and overseas when I'm travelling."

Next season however, the Year 12 student plans to head overseas to do more racing and training with the aim of working towards the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

"At the moment I've got exams and I'm studying. During the season I train and balance it all out."

2018 Volvo Yachting Excellence Award winners:
Orbit World Travel Sailor of the Year: David McDiarmid, Matthew Steven, Bradley Collins (Honda Marine); Dary Wislang and Stu Bannatyne (Dongfeng Race Team)
Volvo Young Sailor of the Year: Josh Armit
Aon Emerging Talent: Veerle ten Have
Nespresso Coach of the Year: NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team coaches (Matt Thomas, Geoff Woolley and Kate Ellingham)
Zhik Official of the Year: Gerald Flynn
Lawson's Dry Hills President's Award: Graham Catley

Performance Awards:
David McDiarmid, Matthew Steven, Bradley Collins – Royal Akarana Yacht Club
Anthony Leighs – Naval Point Club Lyttleton
Daryl Wislang – Worser Bay Boating Club
Stu Bannatyne – Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club
Sam Meech – Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club
Phil Robertson, William Tiller, Stewart Dodson – Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Josh Porebski, Jack Simpson and David Hazard - Royal Akarana Yacht Club
Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn – Wakatere Boating Club & Murrays Bay Sailing Club
Youth Performance Awards
Francesco Kayrouz and Jackson Keon – Wakatere Boating Club & Murrays Bay Sailing Club
Seb Menzies and Blake McGlashan – Murrays Bay Sailing Club
Josh Armit – Murrays Bay Sailing Club
Veerle ten Have – Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club
Greta Stewart and Tom Fyfe – Murrays Bay Sailing Club
Seb Lardies and Scott McKenzie – Kohimarama Yacht Club
Crystal Sun and Olivia Hobbs – Kohimarama Yacht Club