New Zealand's Chris Steele has quickly worked his way up the Open Match Race Rankings throughout 2012 after he started the year at World #570 to swiftly move to World #60.
November was a busy month for the 19-year-old after he took gold at the New Caledonia Match Race and the Musto International Youth Match Racing Championships. Sandwiched in between both of the ISAF Grade 3 victories was a sixth place at the New Zealand Match Racing Championships. "I have wanted to do as many events as I could this year to improve my ranking so that I can start getting invites to Grade 2 events and eventually Grade 1s,"
said Steele. "I have been match racing for just one year now so I was really happy with my jump from over 600th this time last year and that's full credit to the youth programme and also my team 36 Below Racing."
Steele has brought a winning mentality to his match racing career after he picked up gold at the 2007 Optimist World Championships in Sardinia, Italy and then the 2010 Splash Worlds in Auckland, New Zealand.
Runner-up to Steele at the 2007 Optimist Worlds Benjamin Grez (CHI) went on the Olympic pathway through to London 2012 where he represented Chile in the Men's 470. However unlike many of his foes at the 2007 Opti Worlds, Steele focused on match racing. "I have always loved action packed racing and preferred the idea of match racing to fleet racing,"
said Steele. "After I came out of the Optimist I didn't get much direction at all and never settled into an Olympic class. In some ways I wish I had but my goal from a young age has always been to become a professional sailor and be able to sail for a living.
"Match racing has always taken people towards the America's Cup and to me that made the choice easy."
With New Zealand producing some of the world's finest match racing talent Steele has got off to a flying start to his career in just one single year and his eyes firmly set on his next step, "My goals for the future are to have another good year match racing,"
added the Kiwi. "I hope to start getting selected for Grade 1 and 2 events as I feel like my crew and I are good enough to compete at that level now and just need a chance to prove it. We are getting better and better every regatta so it's all coming together."
New Zealand match racers currently occupy three of the top ten ISAF Open Match Racing spots and it won't be long before a new young pretender puts his name amongst them.