Paris Olympics: Windfoilers Josh Armit, Veerle ten Have named for Games debuts among sailing selections

Josh Armit, Veerle ten Have, Erica Dawson, Tom Saunders and Micah Wilkinson are announced in the NZ Olympic team.
Josh Armit, Veerle ten Have, Erica Dawson, Tom Saunders and Micah Wilkinson are announced in the NZ Olympic team. Photo credit: Getty Images

Windfoilers Josh Armit, Veerle ten Have have been named for their Olympics debuts for New Zealand at Paris later this year.

Five sailors have been confirmed, with more to follow, after trial events over coming months.

Tom Saunders ILCA 7 (formerly Laser), and Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson (Nacra 17) have joined the windfoilers in initial NZ team selections, after qualifying their boats last year.

Windfoiling is the evolution of sailboarding, where New Zealand has enjoyed considerable Olympic success previously, including gold medals to Bruce Kendall (Seoul 1988), Barbara Kendall (Barcelona 1992) and Tom Ashley (Beijing 2008). Boards sail above the water at speeds of about 50kph.

"It's a really cool event," said Armit, 22, who finished seventh at last year's combined world sailing championships at The Hague. "We're flying above the water now with these foils, and I just love the speed and freedom of it.

"It's a really exciting sport."

Ten Have, 23, only took up the event two years ago, winning a World Cup bronze medal and finishing sixth in the Olympic test event at Marseille.

"Being a part of the New Zealand team and seeing the level of support around the athletes is awesome," she said.

"We won't be in the Olympic village in Paris with many of the other New Zealand athletes, but I can already feel the sense of togetherness among the group and that is something we will all be relying on to lift our performances."

Wilkinson, 28, and Dawson, 29, will return to the Olympics, after contesting their mixed multihull class at Tokyo, despite Dawson breaking her leg in training just a month before.

Saunders, 31, has reigned as one of the world's leading Laser exponents for almost a decade, winning the 2021 world title, but missing selection for two previous Olympics. Brother Jason contested 470s at London 2012 and Nacra at Rio 2016.

"There's a definite sense of pride and relief to be selected after three Olympic cycles - 12 full years of campaigning," he said.

"To be part of a bigger team and to represent our country along with top athletes from other sports is very special, and something that I will be embracing. Winning a medal is what we've been working toward for a long time and I know I have the potential to get on that podium in France."

The sailors join speed climbers Julian David and Sarah Tetzlaff, who were the first athletes selected for New Zealand last month.