Unitec student sails steady course for maritime career
16 October 2012
Edwin Delaat has been a nautical prodigy in the making from a very young age, with career goals aligned to his success in sailing.
The Unitec student is set to compete his fifth 2012 Coastal Classic Yacht Race this weekend alongside Laura Dekker, the world’s youngest person ever to sail solo around the world.
Edwin, 16, and Laura, 17, will team-up on skipper Edwin’s own Farr 727 yacht ‘Crac-A-Jac’ to race the 119-nautical miles from Auckland to Russell in this year’s fleet of nearly 200.
“Laura is someone I really admire, so when I heard she was coming to NZ after her round-the-world journey I went up to Marsden Cove to meet her,” says Edwin.
“I sailed with Laura from Marsden Cove to Whangarei marina, a two-hour trip. We talked about yachting, had a meal together, and next thing you know we agreed to race the Coastal Classic together. It’s pretty cool how things can turn out!”
Edwin’s ‘go-getter’ outlook on life has helped him succeed in his sport, and saw him take ownership of his beloved Crac-A-Jac at the tender age of 12.
“I used to sail in my opti past this neglected yacht every day for two years, and I remember thinking ‘I want that yacht’. I saved up every cent that came my way, tracked down Crac-A-Jac’s owner in Australia, and made an offer. Finally my wish came true!
“After a summer of hard labour I completely restored Crac-a-Jac to race-standard, and I’ve skippered her ever since at many regattas up and down the coast and the Hauraki Gulf.”
Edwin holds several Coastal Classic event records. In 2008 he became the youngest crew member in the race. The following year he became the youngest skipper ever in the competing fleet.
“The Coastal Classic is quite special to me. This weekend will be my fifth time competing here,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed a lot of success at this event and each year I push myself to go even faster.
“Last year I finished third in the two-handed division in just over 20 hours. With Laura on my team I’m hoping we’ll beat last year’s time.”
Edwin is also navigating toward his career goal with similar focus. With his parents’ full support he left high school to pursue tertiary study at Unitec – part of his pathway to become a qualified Officer/Captain on large passenger ocean vessels.
“The Foundation Studies programme at Unitec has assisted me to reach my goal, with the Maths, English, and Physics skills I need to gain entry to Maritime School.
“The support I’ve received from my family, Unitec tutors Bill Wong and Paul Woodward, and many others along the way, has been pretty amazing.”
For others like him who dare to dream, Edwin had these final words of advice.
“Live your dream by backing yourself; follow your passion, take calculated risks, and you’ll be sure to reap the rewards.”