Big boat, small boat

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ELITE CREW

Thirty-four year old Sydney sailor Anthony 'Nocka' Nossiter is among the international sailing elite. He's twice represented Australia at the Olympics.

Australian Yachting: How old were you when you first went sailing?
Anthony Nossiter: I started helming my own boat at Hunters Hill Sailing Club when I was seven - a wooden Manly Junior call

When did you first decide on an OlymIn 1996 I was working as an accountant in Perth and was listening to sailing news on the radio. By 1998 I had moved back to Sydney to sail Finns and do an accounting Masters ? basically it was just an excuse to be sailing a Finn.

Why did you choose the Finn?
Fletch [coach Mike Fletcher] said: 'You must choose a boat to sail that you are naturally the correct weight for to maintain a nice quality of life,' so I chose the Finn, which happened to also be an Olympican

Are you going to try for Beijing 2008?
Yes. I'm very excited to be back in the Finn again. I did my first ISAF Grade 1 regatta in Medemblik, Holland in May [he finished 15th], and my second at Finn Europeans in June on Lake Balaton in Hungary [he finished 24th].
We have two Finn Worlds (Finn Gold Cups) coming up rather close together; July in Cascais and January 2008 at Sail Melbourne, so its a great time to be Finn sailing with such big regatta's on.

How many Hobart?s you?ve done and on what boats?  
My first one was 1999 aboard Ausmaid, then 2000 on Nicorette [won], 2001 djuice Dragons [Volvo Ocean Race Leg], 2002 Nicorette, 2003 Nicorette, 2005 AAPT and 2006 Skandia. I love doing the Hobart.

What's it like sailing in the Volvo Ocean Race?
I did the 2001/2002 VOR aboard djuice Dragons. After six months Volvo training in Miami and Norway, I sailed the 2001 Finn Worlds during Leg 1 of the VOR. Then I returned to the team in Cape Town to sail all the other legs.

How did you get to compete in the VOR?
In 2000, djuice skipper Knut Frostad had a trial on Nicorette during the 2000 Hobart Race, which we won. After the race I was given the opportunity to sail with Alinghi at the America?s Cup, or djuice Dragons in the VOR. I chose the Dragons. The America's Cup would have interfered with the 2004 Olympics.

What did you learn from the VOR?
I got my sea legs and learnt how to sail big boats well. It was nice going directly from one end of the spectrum of sailing - Olympics.

How did you get involved with the Italian +39 syndicate?Luca Devoti, the skipper of +39 and Finn silver medallist from Sydney Olympics.

What position did you fill with +39?I trimmed the runner and worked with our strategist upwind. Downwind I would go forward and assist in the 'pit' and yes, GRIND! Upwind I would be head out of boat and focus on boat speed. Downwind I would focus on the mechanics and bottom mark manoeuvre at the leeward gate. Virtually everyone is grinding at some time on the Cup boats; they are very physical and you can?t race them without 'power on the handles'.

Tell me about your first America's Cup experience.
It was a fantastic. A very good learning experience and a good bonding process with a great bunch of lads. I'm sure we'll do much more yachting together in the future.

What stood out for you most during your time with +39? Going overboard during the Malmo Act was exciting. Our bowman was losing the spinnaker in 25 knots as we approached the top mark, so I ran to help him, but we lost the chute. I got tangled in the brace and did a 360 degree spin, landing in the drink, and was recovered by the race jury!
 
Did sailing at the AC go beyond your expectations?
The good thing about a small team like ours is that you can get involved in any area of the program you like and you learn lots! What I didn't expect was to have 'heaps on' in 18 plus knots. I find the AC boats fantastic. They are so powerful and perfect for match racing.

Did you think you'd go further than you did with +39? We realised after the first few months that it wasn't going to be quite what we were told. But we had some great people involved and a really fun sailing team. We did what we could with the resources available to us - and enjoyed it.
We could have performed much better with just a little more planning and preparation. We probably still have new sails in customs... 

Will your AC participation give you opportunities you might not otherwise get?
For sure. But at the moment I'm happy sailing a Finn and I?m looking forward to some time in Australia.

What has it been like living away for so long?
I love being able to pay off my house by yacht racing. I would go sailing anywhere in the world, but after a campaign you look forward to the six months at home between projects.

What's next for you sailing wise? 
Only Finn plans for now. I'm a little late, but I'm trying to qualify for the Beijing Games in China. I'm also looking forward to some time in Australia, the Finn Worlds at Sail Melbourne and, of course, the Sydney Hobart.

Do you prefer sailing on your own or with a team?
I like to mix it up. A team is more complicated and takes a lot of training to refine trim and get the mechanics right on a big boat. Whereas once you learn to sail a Finn - a single-handed class - you can just jump back into the boat and go for a solo sail. Of course you need to train, but its nice being in control and running your own program. 
I love mixing up my sailing, it keeps me much more enthusiastic and keeps my skills sharp. Big boat, small boat, big boat, small boat... I'm always looking forward to the Sydney Hobart race each year, no matter what I've been sailing during the season!

Do you think you are a better sailor on your own, or with a team?
I think I'm better in a team. I get along with team mates well, like the training lifestyle, enjoy a bit of boat work and am happy being in front of the traveller running manoeuvres and doing physical jobs. Steering big boats well is great too, but it?s also important to know the manoeuvres and 'put in'. 
When Finn sailing, I'm often too nice to my competitors, but I like it this way, as you?re often sailing against your mates.

Will you ever work as an accountant again or has sailing taken over?
I'd love a little coffee shop on the beach at Dee Why where I could do the accounts!

Do you have any unfulfilled sailing ambitions?
I would love to sail around the world on a big catamaran and chase a speed record.

POSTSCRIPT

Anthony Nossiter finished in 10th place in the recent ISAF World Sailing Championships in Portugal, thereby securing Australia a place in the Finn Class for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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