Meet Henry Start, the youthful WASZP
At 21, Henry Start of the Royal St. George Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire is soon to be one of the youngest class captains ever. After moving from the 29er class to the WASZP last year, he quickly took on the responsibility of organising training to ensure enough preparation in the lead up to the European Championships in Lake Garda. As a result, his fellow WASZP sailors recognised his leadership and organisational abilities and nominated him as class captain. He will be officially elected at the upcoming AGM before the WASZP nationals on the 2nd to the 3rd of October.
While talking to Henry about the WASZP, he was keen to highlight the unique nature of both the boat and those who sail it. In particular, he pointed out that a great advantage of the WASZP is that it is not as weight dominated as other boats. Once the wind speed is above approximately 12 knots and the boat is foiling, which refers to the hull of the boat lifting out of the water, sailors who are 60kg can compete with those who are 80kg. This means that not only are people of all ages, from 15 up to 60 years old, racing the WASZP, but it is also largely neutral in terms of gender. Henry pointed out that in Dun Laoghaire, there are roughly eight female-owned and nine male-owned WASPZs and on many occasions, it is just him and a group of female WASZP sailors out training in the harbour. He says this makes for very interesting racing as sailors of different genders and ages use varying tactics to sail upwind as fast and efficiently as they possibly can.
This exciting new form of ‘flying’ above the water is growing increasingly popular and WASZP International have set up a point ranking system for each national or higher-level event a competitor attends. This means that, unlike many other classes, WASZP sailors are encouraged to move around more for competitions in order to increase their international ranking and compete for a prize at the end of the season. For example, at the Irish WASZP Nationals in October, there is also likely to be several international boats travelling to Dublin for the competition. As Henry points out, it makes for much more exciting events and racing and allows competitors to meet many more sailors from around the globe.
Wet and tough and worth it
As class captain for the next year, Henry’s main aim is to get more people racing WASZPs, especially outside of Dun Laoghaire. In the space of a year, the amount of boats racing has already increased dramatically, and he hopes to see even more sailors representing Ireland by the time the WASZP Worlds take place in July 2022. “It’s a bit wet and tough getting started, but it’s worth it”.
Read more about the WASZP class and upcoming events at www.waszp.com.