19-year-old Māori yachtsman catches eye of Emirates Team NZ

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • Auckland

Emirates Team New Zealand hopeful Josh Wijohn is making waves in the world of sailing. The 19-year-old Tūhoe, Te Rarawa descendant recently took out back-to-back titles with the Pacific Racing Team at the Harken International Youth Match Racing Champs and the Musto International Youth Match Racing Regatta in Australia.

He may be young, but Wijohn is already sailing on the track to success. Over the weekend, Wijohn, along with the other members of his four-man squad, Leonard Takahashi, Taylor Balogh and Tim Snedden, became the third team in history to secure both youth international titles in Sydney.

“We've got big goals as a team.  We've got big goals as individuals.  So this is well ahead of our timeline in terms of what we plan on doing,” says Wijohn.

Now back home in familiar waters, they're gearing up for another big year of competition.

“When we won the Musto Youth International- that gained us entry to the Ficker Cup, which is a world tour qualifier event in Long Beach, California," says Wijohn, "Hopefully, we'll be able to gain an entry to the Congressional Cup and compete against the best of the best - not in youth sailing but open.”

Wijohn is already being eyed by Emirates Team New Zealand and is currently training through Royal NZ Yacht Squadron's Youth and Performance Programmes.  Although it may be some time before he gets to compete in the prestigious America's Cup, he's using every competition he can get as a stepping stone.

“About a month and a half ago I went to China with Emirates Team NZ.  We were racing in beneteaus which aren't very fast but everyone was in the same boat which made it reasonably competitive.  It was a really cool opportunity, we got to sail with Guy Ending, Andy Maloney and Josh Junior.”

Now Wijohn and the team prepare for the Red Bull Foiling Generation in Auckland next February.