Alumni sports stars inspire at Sail GP event

15 March 2023 | News

World Champion rugby players, Kendra Cocksedge and Andy Ellis, were sharing insights from their sporting careers with school pupils from around Canterbury on-campus yesterday.

Inspire offered an opportunity for year 9-11 Canterbury students to learn about the life-changing power of sport.

They were there as part of a SailGP Inspire event in the Whare Hākinakina LU Gym, which opened with a welcome from Lincoln University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Grant Edwards.

Both of the sports stars are Lincoln University alumni, and they participated in a discussion panel which also included head of the New Zealand SailGP event, Karl Budge, and Swiss co-driver Nathan Outteridge, who is also an America's Cup sailor and Olympic gold medallist.

The New Zealand Sail Grand Prix will be held in Lyttelton Harbour this weekend, and Inspire is Sail GP’s community, education and outreach initiative, promoting that sailing "can be a force for good".

Held through a partnership between Lincoln University, Christchurch NZ and SailGP, the event showcased sport as a vehicle for change, promoting healthy living, and connecting with others by providing an opportunity for Christchurch high school pupils to meet high performance sporting men and women, hear their stories and be inspired.

Andy talked about how incredible it was to play alongside his heroes, such as Dan Carter and Richie McCaw, when he began his career. He said the 2011 World Cup final win was a highlight for him, as the men's side had not held the title for 24 years and the pressure was on.

However, now he constantly sought to push himself outside of his comfort zone and welcomed the feelings of anxiety and nerves this provoked. 

Kendra recounted the tense last few moments of the Women's World Cup final in November when her side had to fight off an England attack to win, and said a "little bit of magic went our way" in the final when they claimed the ball against the throw in the last lineout, and in the semi-final against France when "the world's best goalkicker missed".

"That's what pressure can do to you."

The former Sports Scholar, who originally came to Lincoln to play cricket, thanked the university for the support she received through the scholarship and in completing her Bachelor of Sport and Recreation Management degree.

Throughout her 16-year career, she said it had only been in the last year that she was able to train full-time as a professional.

She encouraged the pupils to "have fun and embrace pressure" during sport.

Karl said the Sail GP event was the Twenty20 of sailing and appealed to a younger audience, while Nathan talked about how the catamarans could reach 50 knots, or 160kmh, and were a challenge to sail, requiring a huge team effort.

Recently retired Black Cap Todd Astle, another Lincoln alumnus, emceed the event, offering the pupils tips on how to cope with stress through controlled breathing.

Sail GP's logistics partner Kuehne + Nagel, a global company that has a close relationship with Lincoln and offers graduates a chance to intern in New York, were also represented at the event.

They discussed the efforts they had made to reduce the carbon footprint of Sail GP’s 110 containers, which were shipped around the world using biofuels, to cut emissions by up to 90% when the event was held in Europe.
The pupils had a chance to test their fitness on ski machines and also took part in sessions on sustainability which included learning about new plant proteins from Leaft Foods and kayaks made from wool by Shear Edge.

They also had an introduction to sport science, a subject that Lincoln offers through its Sport and Recreation speciality.

Attendees also signed a large card wishing good luck to the New Zealand team in the races at the weekend, and enjoyed a Kapa Haka performance from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Waitaha.