Sailor flies to victory

Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson competing in the Flying Phantom Series. Photo – Lloyd Images.

Cambridge sailor Micah Wilkinson and his Napier team mate Olivia Mackay have finished up the 2018 Flying Phantom Series as overall winners after dominating the grand finale in Cardiff, Wales.

The Kiwi team, which finished second in the 2017 series, proved to be tough competition amongst this year’s eight competing teams from five nations. Held in conjunction the Extreme Sailing Series, the Flying Phantom Series included stops in Oman, Spain, Portugal, and Wales, racing exhilarating 18ft flying catamarans.

At the final round during the last week of August, the Kiwi pair raced under the Red Bull Sailing banner with Olivia at the helm. “It was awesome,” said Micah. “To win the final race, with a couple thousand people watching, it was pretty exciting.”

“We’ve been quite busy with Olympic sailing, so to be able to come into the Phantom series without a lot of training, and be competitive, is quite exciting for us. It’s a great style of really short course racing that really gets the lungs burning and the brain thinking quickly.”

The Kiwi team maintained a comfortable lead throughout the competition, staying at least 20 points ahead of their nearest rivals.

Racing over four days at a “super windy” venue, their main competition, the French team, snapped their mast in the high winds of day one, and had another break down on day three. “We managed to survive the windy conditions and consistently win races,” Micah explained. “Luckily the heat was off a little bit with the main guys sustaining damage.”

Earlier in August Micah and Olivia also competed in their pinnacle event of the year, the 2018 Sailing World Championships, which they finished second in last year. Held in Denmark, the pair finished up 11th out of 68 boats. “Given all we’ve had to manage this year it was quite good,” said Micah, explaining that Olivia had been dealing with a hip injury for most of the year, waiting until last week – after the European sailing season – to get surgery as it required a three-month rest period.

“We know we’ve got potential to really – once we can take it to 100 percent – we can push hard next year and make the podium,” said Micah, looking forward to the start of the New Zealand sailing season in December. “The world champs are in New Zealand next year which is quite exciting.”

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