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Dutch Olympic sailor PJ Postma winds back the clock at NZ Finn and OK regattas

by Michael Brown / Yachting NZ 8 Mar 09:54 GMT 8 March 2022
PJ Postma (NED) crosses ahead of Ben Ainslie (GBR) in the Medal Race for the Finn class - London 2012 Olympic Regatta - Weymouth © Richard Gladwell - Sail-World.com/nz

PJ Postma admits his body isn't as used to the demands of sailing as it once was but it didn't mean the competitive instinct of the three-time Olympian was any more diminished in a couple of events he sailed in recently.

The 40-year-old Dutchman, who five times finished on the podium at the Finn world championships throughout an illustrious sailing career, calls New Zealand one of his two homes these days and competed recently at both the Finn and OK Dinghy national championships.

Postma won every race at the Finn nationals sailed out of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club to finish on top and then backed it up by finishing fourth at the OK Dinghy nationals in the Bay of Islands. For both events he borrowed boats from others in the fleet, which he was grateful for.

"The guys invited me to the Finn and OK nationals and it was marvellous," he said. "It was a big honour to be jumping back in dinghies again. These classes, it really touches me that it’s a group of friends. They are racing hard but at the same time are great friends.

"It was a big shock to the body, though. Day one and two, it was hard for me to walk but by the end it was good again. There were some great battles out there."

Some of the best for Postma were against 2021 Finn national champion Karl Purdie, but on each occasion Postma was able to get his nose in front. Mark Perrow was third.

Andy Phillips sailed impressively at the OK Dinghy nationals, winning five of the seven races, to finish ahead of Steve McDowell and Luke O'Connell. Postma was second in four races but left himself too much work to do with a couple of bigger scores on his tally.

These days his focus is on coaching, and he oversees Team DutchSail who dominated competition in the 69F foiling monohulls last year at both youth and senior level. He also helped coach Hungary's Zsombor Berecz in his preparations for last year's Tokyo Olympics, where he claimed silver in the Finn, as well as coaching and crewing on Team Childhood I in last year's Ocean Race Europe.

"The biggest thing for me when I coach people is I like to coach them strategy, tactics and a little boat speed but also mental [strategy]," he said. "That’s maybe my biggest passion, for people to get everything out of themselves.

"If someone needs a hand, it’s a passion to help."

For now, though, he's working on installing a new garage at the property he bought a couple of years ago with partner Jo Aleh so they can, presumably, fit in more sailing equipment. There's always room for another boat, right?

Finn Nationals results - Royal Akarana YC

OK Nationals results - Bay of Islands

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