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8 April 2002, 10:38 am
Laser Radial Youth and Open World Champion 2001
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Michael at the 2001 ISAF Youth Worlds

Interview With Michael Bullot

An Interview with 18 year old Michael Bullot (NZL) Laser Radial Youth and Open World Champion in 2001, and recently announced as the New Zealand representative in the boys single handed class at the Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship.
Michael had an outstanding year in 2001. Along with his Laser Radial world title, he finished 4th at the 2001 Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championships in France.

Michael has won the 2001 and 2002 Yachting New Zealand Junior Sailor of the Year, and he was a finalist for Yachting New Zealand's Sailor of the Year Award in 2001 and 2002.

1. When did you start sailing?
I was pretty much brought up around the water with most holidays and weekends spent on the family Keelboat. But I guess I first got my real taste of Centreboard sailing when dad built my first optimist when I was about 7. It did many miles behind the boat and as soon and the anchor was down I was off.

2. Who introduced you to sailing?
I guess dad was the main influence with his back ground in keeler racing in New Zealand. I was the one to introduce me to the competitive side of the sport through joining me up to the local yacht club, Murrays Bay where the likes of Dean Barker and Chris Dickson came from.

3. Where do you sail mostly?
Where I live there is a coast with the best sailing waters I believe in the world. I grew up sailing in the waters where the Americas cup is sailed but now base most of my yachting in Auckland Harbour where we are fortunate enough to have all of New Zealands top Laser sailors based there. We all train together 4 to days a week with the National Laser coach.

4. Are you at school or college, and where?
I am in my first year at University in Auckland where I am studying Business. I'm happy with the way its going as I have all my lectures based around the sailing I want to do. I can go to the gym in the morning, then to Uni for a few hours then on the water for the rest of the afternoon. Close to full time yachting but also giving a bit of a balance.

5. What are your goals for 2002?
I've pretty much made the youth worlds my primary focus this year. Coming 4th last year, just missing the medals was pretty disappointing but I knew I always had this year to do it.

6. What is your ultimate goal?
Like anyone's I guess It'd have to be getting a medal at the Olympics. My feelings at that once you get an Olympic medal you can truly say you've reached the top in your sport.

7. Who is your most respected sailor?
Without a doubt it would have to be Ben Ainslie, one of the greatest Laser sailors ever. Its hard not to respect a guy who's won practically everything possible in the Laser class and is still only mid 20's. Most of my long term goals seem to fit into following in his foot steps.

8. Who has inspired you the most in your sailing career?
Since I began sailing lasers about two years ago Ben Ainslie has been a really inspiring, Its pretty motivating when you realise what Ben has done and that it is possible. I was lucky enough to spend the day with him at the end of last year when the One World Americas Cup challenge invited me out for the day. I was pretty happy there picking his brains about everything and it gave me a new perspective of international laser sailing. Up until then I had only read about guys like Ben and Rob Schiet, and believed most of the story's about them 'not being human' and being unbeatable but it changed a lot of that when talking to him face to face. Quite inspiring.

9. What do you think are the most important qualities to make a good sailor?
Like all sports I think the best quality needed to reach the top is dedication. You must be prepared to put everything into what you are aiming for. The worst quality would have to be quitting at a setback because the fact is that it happens to everyone. Natural talent can only remain competitive for so long then the work has got to be put in.

10. Do you have any sponsors?
I was very fortunate last year when I returned after the two Laser Radial world championships that the New Zealand International Yachting Trust gave me a performance grant and the Regency Duty Free Stores Sports Foundation supported me with a scholarship. A local Sports and Cultural Trust gave me a grant which enabled me to travel over to France and Spain last year. Donaghys Ropes, Holt, RFD and Kaenon have all been generous with their products as I need them, and Performance Sail Craft Australia gave me a good deal with a new boat.

11. Are you looking forward to the ISAF Youth Worlds in Canada this year?
It sounds like a great venue and the organisation sounds great, I've watched a 15 minute clip of the location and it looks great. Really looking forward to it.

12. What is your aim there?
Last years 4th was disappointing and I was a bit unlucky my having a bit of a fever for the last few days. This year I'm planning to be peaking and have a solid performance. This year from what I've seen will be a very tough year with some great sailors from Australia, America and the Canadian rep looking especially good. Looks to have some good racing and we'll see what happens.

13. Do you think New Zealand can win the Team title at the ISAF Youth Worlds this year?
Last year I think we missed it by a mere 4 points to the French who were in their home country. This year I think we've got one of the strongest teams New Zealand has had for a while. I think everyone in the team has the potential to win a medal which is promising but then again other countries many have the same views on their team. Everyone in the team will be concentrating on their own individual result and it'll be great it the team prize came with that.

14. What is the best thing about sailing?
Every day is different with varying weather patterns etc. No two days races are ever the same, it's a sport that is never repetitive, being both physically and mentally demanding. In Auckland we have centreboard clubs with over sailors so there is always plenty of competition and a lot of regattas to compete in throughout the season.

Michael Bullot/News Editor
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