Harry sets course for India

Harry Strang with his Optimist. Photo: John Borren.

Tauranga 12-year-old Harry Strang is setting sail for international waters, having earned a coveted spot on the NZ sailing team destined for the 2024 Optimist Asian & Oceanian Championship in India this November.

Despite his relatively brief two-year stint in the sport, Harry’s meteoric rise to the national stage culminated in an impressive showing at the NZ national competition in Picton at Easter.

Harry hails from the Tauranga Yacht & Power Boat Club, renowned for its illustrious sailing legacy and boasting such names as Peter Burling and numerous Olympic medallists.

His father Glen Strang, who has a rugby background, says Harry doesn’t come from a sailing family, and was completely new to the watersport.

“Sailing is a new environment for us,” says Glen.

“But in a couple of years, Harry has developed into a good Optimist sailor.”

As a result of competing at this year’s NZ International Optimist Dinghy Association nationals in Picton at Easter, Harry qualified as one of three Kiwi sailors for the NZ team.

“The other two are from Napier and Auckland, also aged 12,” Glen says.

“I was pretty proud because these young kids are racing against sailors up to 15 years old and Harry was 11 at the time.”

The national event has only been held in Picton twice before; the first time in 2003 when it was won by a young Peter Burling, now a double America’s Cup champion, Olympic medallist and skipper of Team New Zealand’s 2021 America’s Cup-winning crew.

Harry Strang sailing at the New Zealand International Optimist Dinghy Association Optimist Nationals regatta in Picton at Easter, 2024. Photo: Suellen Hurling / Live Sail Die.

The Peter Burling connection has become a strong link for the Strang family, with Glen having purchased the world champion’s former P class yacht, 942 X-Rated for Harry to sail.

Peter and Harry hung out together at the 100th anniversary of the P Class yacht, celebrated in Tauranga in January, with Peter enjoying a sail in his old P942 Ben Bax-built rocket.

“Harry is on the water two to three times a week after school and sometimes on Saturdays and Sundays,” says Glen.

Harry, an ACG Tauranga student, will travel with his father to Mumbai in late October to practise ahead of the November regatta.

“They will race individually and as a team,” says Glen. “There is a team component that takes the individual scores.”

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