Top young sailor Gautrey turns triathlete

The sailor has become a triathlete.

Henry Gautrey is now spending more time in the swimming pool than on the harbour.

The 15-year-old Hutt International student has represented New Zealand in yachting, in the optimist class, but triathlon is now his main sport and sailing has “gone out the door.”

He decided he needed to make a choice, as there was insufficient time to compete in both sports at a high level. “I like to do things well, though I never thought anything would come in the way of my sailing.”

However, there is still a serious sailor in the family with older brother George, a year 13 pupil at HIBS, winning the national radial laser title in January.

That set the bar high but Henry has hopes of winning a national title of his own on Friday.

He will be a leading contender in a competitive field in the under-16 division at the national secondary schools triathlon championships in Taupo.

“I’m aiming for the win. I would have to put together a good race but it’s doable,” he said. “If I don’t win, I hope to at least get on the podium but winning is the goal.”

Gautrey, a young year 12 – he does not turn 16 till June – finished second in the under-14 division two years ago and was fifth in the under-16 last year.

He had a change of coach this year and is doing a lot more work on his swimming. He is working with the SwimZone club and training six days a week.

“The 5.20 starts in the morning can be pretty tough but I like working hard to achieve something. Swimming now takes up more than half my training and I think I have improved a lot.”

Gautrey has always been a capable cyclist and runner and won the intermediate 3000m at the regional secondary schools athletics championships a week ago. “But biking is probably my strength.”

He has been in solid form leading up to triathlon nationals, finishing fifth in the 16-17 division at a Sovereign series triathlon in Kinloch and fourth at Takapuna 12 days later, despite a “shocking run.”

However, he will face stiff competition this week from Trent Dodds (Mcleans College), who has the same coach as Gautrey, Bradley Cullen (Hamilton Boys) and Janus Staufenberg (Mt Aspiring College).

“They are all pretty good,” Gautrey said.

Novice Wellington triathlete Bayley Van de Coolwijk is expected to be competitive in the under-16 girls division at Taupo.

The St Mary’s College pupil has made rapid progress after taking up the sport late last year. She had had little experience on a bike but had a good record as a swimmer and runner.

“I wasn’t really enjoying swimming at the time and had started to get back into running, so decided to give triathlon a go,” she said.

She entered the Kinloch triathlon for experience but finished third in the 16-17 division, one place ahead of proven Wellington triathlete Emelie Clarke (Tawa), and despite problems with the bike transition.

She performed well again at Takapuna, finishing sixth in the 15-17 division.

Van de Coolwijk was also prominent on the athletics track last week, finishing third, behind Izzy Hegan and Tessa Hunt, in both the intermediate 800m and 1500m at the regional championships.

Van de Coolwikj is coached by former world champion triathlete Jenny Rose.

“Bayley is very promising,” Rose said.

“She can go a minute flat for the 100m freestyle and has run a 1500m in around 4:55 and those are good times for her age.

“We are looking for kids who are good at swimming and running as triathletes. They know about training hard and can usually pick up biking relatively quickly.

“I had to teach Bayley how to change gear [on a bike] but when we got to the hills she just took off. She has the cardiovascular fitness and the power to weight ratio.

“She’s learning with every race [as a triathlete] and we will be able to work on her weaknesses over the winter. She picks things up really quickly but she’s so much of a novice.

“She will be going for a podium finish this week and it would be awesome if she could manage that. But she will be up against athletes with a bit more experience and would have to put her best foot forward.”

Christchurch’s Ari Graham, the national secondary schools junior 1500m champion last year, and also a quality swimmer, will be the one to beat in the under-16 girls.

Rose expects Gautrey to go well this weekend. “He’s a gutsy athlete, full stop. He’s very strong on the bike, his running is getting better and better and his swimming has really improved.”