Young sailor riding a wave of success

Dani Wooldridge’s love of the ocean is certainly causing a splash on the NZ sailing scene!

Dani, Westlake’s 2021 Yachtswoman of the Year, has been selected to represent New Zealand at the Youth Sailing World Championships in the Hague, Netherlands from 8 – 15 July 2022. Dani will compete in the Girl’s Two-Person Dinghy class with Nicola Hume from Epsom Girls.

Nicola is pictured on the left and Dani on the right in the photo above.

Dani comes from a sailing family, and had watched her older brother sail before deciding it was a sport she wanted to take up as well. Part of the Wakatere Boating Club based on the shores of Narrow Neck Beach in Devonport, she competes in the 420, which is a two-person trapeze and spinnaker racing dinghy, which holds status as a World Sailing International Class.

“In the 420 there are three sails. The helm and the crew work together with different roles to keep the boat moving fast,” says Dani. “In the 420 I am the crew, my jobs are keeping the boat flat with the trapeze, controlling the jib and the kite. Nicola is the helm, she steers the boat and controls the main sail. We do many different jobs working together to help control the boat and keep it going.”

Already friends, Dani and Nicola began sailing together at the end of June 2021,  “We started out aiming to do well in the youth trials/Ocean Bridge Regatta. We were selected for the youth championship after winning the top girl placing in the youth trials also known as the Ocean Bridge Regatta from 17-20 February,” she says.

“The first day wasn’t windy enough and there wasn’t any racing completed. But there was racing for the next 3 days. Nicola and I did really well on the first two days of racing and we got good results that set us up for the rest of the regatta, allowing us to win top girl placing and qualify for the youth champion spot.”

Dani says she was “happy and really proud” of their selection – the result of months of hard work and training. There will be 69 different countries represented, which will provide some fantastic international experience.

“From now until July we will be training loads and gaining experience before we travel to the youth championships,” says Dani.  “We will be training with the other 420 boy team qualifier.”

“What I love about sailing is the freedom and the speed you experience. And even when there is only a small amount of wind I love being out on the water.”

No doubt we will be seeing lots more of this talented young sailor.