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Tower AIMES Award winner off to European regattas

Tower AIMES Award winner heads into European regattas

North Shore's Olympic sailor and coach Dan Slater spent time coaching a squad of Canadian Olympic Laser and Radial sailers and a 49er crew in freezing weather before heading off for his own competition schedule in Europe.

The Canadian experience was a contrast to the hot Auckland summer days when the 29-year-old coached the Murrays Bay Optimist toward their assault on the New Zealand nationals. The results were pretty hot too, with four of the North Shore sailors finishing in the top 10 out of a field of 240.

The 29-year-old former North Harbour Club Tower AIMES Award winner has found things have changed since he last coached at junior level in this country.

"At a regatta with 200-plus sailors there are 55 coach boats on the water. It's the sort of thing you expect to see at the Olympic regattas in Europe and not under-14 years old Opti sailing in New Zealand."

Dan, who still lives part of the year at his Bayswater home, teamed up with former 2000 Olympics 49er team-mate Nathan Handley for the first time in almost five years when they competed in the International 14 Class World Championship off Takapuna Beach. The pair finished fourth in a field of 82.

"Since the worlds, I have been getting back into what seems like a past life of sailing Olympic classes and coaching Optimists and youth sailors," he says.

Slater's talent and commitment to his sport is something that was recognised early on. He was awarded a $5000 AIMES scholarship from the North Harbour Club in 1996 when he was 20 years old and on his way towards Olympic selection.

He coached the New Zealand Men's 470 team and the women sailors at the 2004 Athens Olympics and continues to demonstrate outstanding qualities as an athlete and coach.

"Dan continues to represent the AIMES awards superbly - especially by spending so much time in a coaching role," says North Harbour Club chairman Ross Finlayson.
"Some of the talented young sailors he coaches could well be eligible for a North Harbour Club AIMES Award themselves."

Dan recently switched from the Laser to the Finn class and is working towards the Finn Gold Cup world championships in Moscow in September.

"I'm not expecting to be setting the world on fire straight away but will be doing my best to learn as much as I can to climb the ladder."

While climbing that ladder, however, he is also trying to gain weight. The ideal weight for a Finn sailer is 96kg, and at 85kg at the end of summer, Dan was finding it hard to optimise control of his craft.

No doubt with nutritional advice from his dad, Rod Slater, the chief executive of the New Zealand Beef and Lamb Marketing Bureau, Dan has added another five kilograms.

"But I have found it hard to keep up the food intake and try and exercise at the same time in order to maintain my strength and fitness."

regattas at Hyere in France in late April, Lake Garda in Italy in early May, and finally Spa in the Netherlands.

"As a lightweight Finn sailor I have managed to pick maybe the three windiest regattas on the calendar," he says.

The Tower AIMES Awards 2005

Entries for this year's Tower AIMES Awards open in June and close on Friday August 12. The winners will be announced at a black tie gala dinner in October.

The Tower AIMES Awards are organised by the North Harbour Club and are open to anyone living in the North Harbour region who is 25 or younger and who has shown excellence in either the arts; innovation, science and technology; education; sport or music.

Companies and organisations continue to provide generous sponsorship of the Awards, including principal sponsor Tower. Other major sponsors are ASB Bank (arts), Massey University (innovation, science and technology), the Lion Foundation (education), Millennium Institute of Sport & Health (sport) and Corelli School (music).


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