When Carl Marshall climbs into his "bathtub" he tends to raise and lower the sprit of his single sail on not just honesty but, more importantly, a healthy dose of integrity.

That's because Marshall refreshingly belongs to a clan of sports people who adhere to the edict of doing what is right when no one is looking.

It's lending credence to that sort of dictum that has secured the 12-year-old Napier Sailing Club member a flight to represent his country in China during the nine-day Qingdao International Optimist Sailing Camp and Regatta which started today.

"It's a great experience to be representing my country again," said the optimist sailor from Lindisfarne College before he caught his flight with six other Kiwi peers on Tuesday.

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It came on the heels of competing in Noumea, New Caledonia, in October last year.

Marshall was competing at the Opti Nationals at Murrays Bay in Auckland during the Easter weekend in April when the guest speaker, before the regatta, had highlighted the need to do the right thing even if no one was watching on the water. Apparently America's Cup sailor Peter Burling had surrendered himself under protest for not doing his turns after he had clipped a mark at another event one day.

That message had struck a chord with Marshall, where doing the right thing had become the theme of the nationals that weekend.

Ironically the year 8 pupil was "ooching" that weekend when officials in the marshalling boat had blown the whistle and pointed the flag to pull him up for a foul. For the uninitiated, ooching is when the sailor throws their body weight forward deliberately to propel a boat. It is prohibited except when done in sync with the waves and does not result in sail movement other than in response to wind shifts, gusts or waves.

Marshall wasn't sure at the time why the officials had pinged him so he had approached the committee boat for clarification.

On learning of the reasons for why they had penalised him, the youngster had thanked the officials because he had learned something new to his budding portfolio.

"It's a very fine line as to what constitutes ooching and what doesn't but they had deemed Carl had moved his body too quickly in the boat," explained his father, Lindsey Marshall, after his son had smartly done a "720" (two turns) to eventually finish the nationals in the middle of the 200-plus field of sailors.

Consequently it was that attitude which had unanimously found traction with the panel of six adjudicators that had earned him the Dawson Sportsmanship Trophy from among six nominees as well as the invitation-only cultural exchange trip between the Kiwi and Chinese optimists.

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Carl Marshall has thanked officials for a punitive lesson that
Carl Marshall has thanked officials for a punitive lesson that "ooching" isn't acceptable behaviour on the water for optimist sailors. Photo/supplied

No doubt, those are the values Lindsey and wife Meredith Marshall, a paramedic, raise their eight boys.

"Overall, I'd like to improve my performance and have more international racing," Carl Marshall said of the camp and regatta that finishes at Qingdao Olympic Sailing Centre on Thursday next week. New Zealand has previously sent a team to China in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

The Chinese Yachting Association and Qingdao Municipal Government are the organising authorities of the camp and regatta with the backing of the Qingdao Olympic Sailing City Development Association. The organising committee has offered free accommodation, meals, transport and activities during the duration.

The former Port Ahuriri School pupil started sailing since he was 8. Born in Sydney because his mother is an Aussie, he took a shine to the club's Learn to Swim Programme when the family has settled here. Lindsey, a training consultant in transport from Auckland, had sailed as a youngster.

Marshall said sailing as a Kiwi was an "easy" choice because New Zealand had more nous in the sport than Australia.

Philipp Otto and Adrian Mannering are his mentors at the Napier club.
However, the schoolboy said in the two last summers he had gone from strength to strength under the tutelage of international coach Orestes Reyes, of Peru, who also is at the helm of the Singapore Olympic campaign.

Marshall is indebted to his sponsors, Thirsty Whale, Scenic Hotels, Ocean Spa and Rip Curl.

Thirsty Whale owner Chris Sullivan has paid for Marshall's return airfares to China as his principal sponsor, after a financial fillip to Noumea last year.

"Carl's the second boy Chris has done that for and he's been going the extra mile to support the kids at the club, which is fantastic," said Lindsey, after Josh Gilmore was the first recipient, someone Sullivan has been sponsoring for five years.

He saluted the club's learning programme which, at a cost of $90 a season, continues to offer children warm apparel and sailing equipment for free.

The father laughed when asked if the remaining seven boys had taken up sailing, agreeing he and Meredith, who is in Qingdao with Marshall, would need commercial sponsors to keep them all afloat, as it were.

Son No 5 Marshall's sailing is certainly rubbing off on his younger brothers — Evans, 10, of Hereworth School, as well as Theo, 8, and Zane, 6, of Westshore Primary School.

The Marshall boys Zane (left), Theo, Evan, Carl, Beau, Joel, Leon and Andre. Photo/supplied
The Marshall boys Zane (left), Theo, Evan, Carl, Beau, Joel, Leon and Andre. Photo/supplied