by ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND — Waving hello to dolphins and orcas. Being out on the water for about half the day. Nothing could be cooler for a 14-year-old boy except taking part in an international regatta in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Sebastian Lardies, a Sacred Heart College form 3 student, represented New Zealand in the North American (NAM) Optimist regatta during the New Zealand winter school holidays. This is an
annual international regatta run in different parts of North America. The 2014 competition ran from July 11 to 16.
Before he left, Sebastian said this is an important regatta because sailors up to 15 years of age go to compete from all over the world.
“Sailors get invited to participate in international regattas depending on their rankings in their country,” said Sebastian.
“The New Zealand International Optimist Association manages the annual rankings and invites the top sailors to the Worlds, the Europeans and the North Americans. New Zealand will be represented by six sailors, including me. So I get to go with some of my sailing friends and
get to know a lot more sailors and make friends,” he said.
Sebastian’s mother, Claudia, said he prayed for this trip to happen because he wanted very much to take part. “It was a very big expense, so we decided to let him go by himself. There will be other parents there who promised to look after him,” she said. “This is his first trip
outside of the country that is not about visiting family in Argentina.”
Sebastian said he did not have any expectation of placing, as this would be the first time he would be competing internationally. “I have to see what level of sailing I have, compared with other countries. I can also learn from looking at the other sailors,” he said.
In the event, though, he had a pretty good showing.
He was the first New Zealander home on his first event, at eighth place, and was 34th on his second event — which had more than 100 competitors.
In the lead-up to the event, the young sailor trained with his team for two months. He also trained with his club, the Kohimarama Yacht Club, from September last year to April.
Mrs Lardies said Sebastian got hooked on sailing at the age of 11, which was a bit late by her reckoning. She said her other children also sailed.
She encouraged them to sail because it gave them something positive to do.
“He goes out with a nice group of kids. It keeps him occupied. He doesn’t have much time to muck around,” she said with a laugh.