From the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race and downwards in the informal hierarchy of the professional sailing world, the brilliant sailors from New Zealand are almost always a major part of the most successful teams. Though Kiwis are quite often overrepresented in professional sailing, the women’s match racing in general, and the WIM Series in particular, may be the exception that confirms the rule of the New Zealand superiority in sailing.
On the 2014 WIM Series the Europeans clearly dominate, with two Scandinavian teams at the very top of the scoreboard after four events out of five. The best placed New Zealand skipper is not found until almost half ways down the ladder, at 8th position. She’s in her early twenties, her name is Claudia Pierce and she’s very determined to advance on the WIM Series standings. For that reason she’s even taken the step to abandon her life at home and move to Europe. Now she’s living in the British capital London:
“The only WIM Series event close to New Zealand is in Korea, and that’s not really close either. And there aren’t enough girls at home committed to match racing. So it simply made more sense to get over here” Claudia explains.
Claudia Pierce is now building a new team, with crew members from Great Britain and Ireland. At the moment they are five girls, with the ambition to expand the team further to at least seven people. In nearby Southampton they get a lot of high quality practise in Elliott 6-boats, and in Dublin they do J/80.s:
“We’re trying to get hold of bigger boats as well, but it’s not that easy” Pierce admits.
At their age of just above 20, the girls struggle with studying and work, trying to get funding and time enough to invest in their match racing careers:
“Bella is in her final year of design at university, Diana has just finished law school, Ellen is doing a PHD in engineering and Suzy is a qualified engineer who works in the marine industry close to Isle of Wight” Claudia exemplifies.
Claudia Pierce herself moved to Auckland some years ago for a sailing programme at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, and has then worked for a charter boat company and within the coast guard, as well as for a company specialized in marine electronics. Straight after the Swedish WIM Series event Lysekil Women’s Match, she moved to London and got an appointment as nanny for an eight-year-old boy:
“Now I live with his family, and that job works quite well with my sailing, since I’ve got most of the school holidays off” says Claudia.
She had a few small sponsors for the first and second year, and also earned a little prize money, but most of the sailing expenses had to be paid out of her own pocket. Now Claudia Pierce is looking for sponsors for the 2015 WIM Series season:
“We’ll absolutely have a few lined up for the next season. We’re so excited being a new team, looking forward to the Busan Cup and to our next year on the WIM Series” the hopeful and ambitious Kiwi concludes.
21 years old
Lives in London, Great Britain
Grew up in Tauranga, New Zealand
Working as nanny for an eight-year-old boy
Sailing for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Building a new team of British and Irish sailors
Motto: If your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough!
Favourite boats: Elliott 7s and Farr MRX