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12 May 2005, 02:00 pm
Rod DAVIS Appointed As Olympic Director
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Yachting New Zealand News
Auckland, New Zeland

Yachting New Zealand has announced that Olympic and America's Cup sailing veteran, Rod DAVIS (NZL) will be their new Olympic Director. Yachting New Zealand have also announced the appointment of Australian, Martin WATSON as High Performance and Youth Director and Richard BROWN as National Programmes Director.
Recent reforms at Yachting New Zealand are aimed at creating a structure which will ensure future Olympic success and the growth of participation within the sport of sailing. All three are due to start at Yachting New Zealand this month. Des BRENNAN, Yachting New Zealand's Chief Executive describes the thrust behind the changes.

'The new positions and the calibre of the team, bring greater intensity, broader experience and more accountability to Yachting New Zealand. It is particularly pleasing to announce these appointments to renew yachting's greatness as we approach the commemoration of Team New Zealand's winning of the Americas Cup in 1995.'

DAVIS will head a three year programme leading up to the 2008 Games with a primary goal of achieving medals for New Zealand in Beijing. He has extensive experience in the Olympic sailing arena.

'My Olympic experience spans more than 20 years, sailing for the USA [once] and New Zealand [three times] and most recently, as Head Coach for Denmark. In each case, the top performance was the key moment - the Olympic Games. My Olympic campaigns and results are defined by the philosophy behind them: focused, disciplined and results orientated,' said DAVIS.

DAVIS won the Olympic gold medal for the USA in Los Angeles in 1984; silver for New Zealand in Barcelona in 1992, and finished fifth in both Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney in 2000. In 2002 he was hired as the 'coach's coach' for the Danish Olympic Sailing coaches, and then promoted to Head Coach of the Danish Team in 2004. The Danish campaign produced medals in two classes in Athens.

'The overall goal is simple to state: 'create Olympic sailing champions for New Zealand.' The programme and its implementation are much more complex. It needs to be well thought out, crisp and motivating and above all it will need to get the very best out of the individual sailors and coaches alike,' said DAVIS.

'There is no one formula that works for all sailors, in all situations. To know how to make programmes that succeed takes a combination of experience, managerial skills, leadership and passion.'

In 1998 DAVIS was asked to take a talented group of Italians and bring them to world class sailing level. Two years later, after tackling numerous challenges DAVIS, as Head Coach, brought the Prada America's Cup team to the final of the Louis Vuitton Challenger Series and on to challenge for the America's Cup.

The Prada development programme was so successful that DAVIS was asked to do a similar thing for Emirates Team New Zealand. DAVIS will take up the new Olympic Director role this month while continuing his involvement with Emirates Team New Zealand, in an agreement between Yachting New Zealand and the America's Cup syndicate headed by Grant DALTON (NZL). DAVIS is set to work full-time with the Yachting New Zealand Olympic Squad in the year leading up to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

WATSON comes to Yachting New Zealand having spent the last year as a self-employed sailing coach of elite and advanced level athletes, national teams and state based development squads in Australia.

'I have been self-employed as a freelance coach working predominantly with the state based youth programmes around Australia as well as private clients who are specialising in Olympic and International or ISAF nominated Youth classes,' said WATSON. 'The High Performance and Youth Director position is certainly an excellent opportunity.'

Between 2002 and 2004 WATSON worked as an AIS Scholarship Coach with Yachting Australia assisting the Australian National Head Coach in all areas. In 2003 he headed the organisation of the highly successful Australian team in their assault on the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship in Madeira, Portugal. The team went on to be credited as the most successful team in the history of the event by accumulating more gold medals than any previous team.

Australian National Head Coach, Victor KOVALENKO rates WATSON highly after working closely with him. 'He's been very successful; he's coached a national champion. I would rate him has having very good potential,' says KOVALENKO. 'He's keen, determined and persistent. A good coach.'

As well as an excellent coaching record, WATSON has over 25 years of sailing experience in cruising, racing and deliveries. From dinghy sailing to ocean racing, WATSON has racked up a number of personal sailing achievements himself, while combining this with a career of coaching activity.

The new role at Yachting New Zealand will see WATSON directing the Yachting New Zealand Academy to select, foster and extend New Zealand's most outstanding sailors to be international winners. His work will prepare the most committed and accomplished of these for transition into the New Zealand Olympic Sailing Squad.

Current Yachting New Zealand team member, BROWN moves up into the National Programmes Director role created to lead national initiatives to grow participation in sailing. BROWN will be supporting the work of clubs and their volunteer networks to promote sailing and improve club membership levels.

BROWN joined Yachting New Zealand three years ago as Programme Support Services Coordinator from a background of significant experience in administration in the sport of yachting from a voluntary point of view, as well as a part-time role as secretary of the Auckland Yacht and Boating Association.

'My motivation to join Yachting New Zealand was that I saw an opportunity to make a difference. I am proud to have been part of a process by which the national body has achieved an improved profile with stakeholders,' says BROWN. 'I am keen to find innovative ways of encouraging more people to take up the sport. I consider myself as an ideas person.'

BROWN has been working with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority to establish sailing as an National Certificate of Educational Achievement (New Zealand's main national qualification for secondary school students) subject and working with sailing schools to deliver the programme. This initiative, and others planned by Yachting New Zealand to advance our members interests and grow the value of our services to our members will be lead by Richard Brown.

Jodie Perkins
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