MCCutcheons advice to rookie sailors

Robbie McCutcheon might be a new face on the racing scene, but he is one you will remember. Auckland-born and bred, and an RNZYS youth training programme graduate, McCutcheon continues moving through the World Match Racing circuit ranks and currently sits 20th place overall while gaining experience in the European Grand Prix racing scene.  

In 2022/23 Robbie completed his Business Degree at Auckland University, with part of the final assessment including an internship with Doyle Sails. The internship included spending part of his time with the team on the loft floor, building sails and gaining valuable knowledge – Robbie also spent a considerable amount of time with the Senior Leadership team to gain more operational understanding within a multinational company. 

At the beginning of the New Zealand winter, Robbie headed for warmer shores and based himself in Europe for the summer with the goal of taking the next step in his sailing career.   
With considerable time spent at the Doyle Sails Auckland loft, McCutcheon developed a working relationship with Mike Sanderson, CEO of Doyle Sails International, who worked with Robbie to connect him to various industry members. The introductions have allowed him to take sailing opportunities between match racing events, including various boat deliveries, and become part of shore crews and sailing teams. 

Most recently, Robbie took an amateur sailing role onboard the victorious Beau Geste for the ORC Maxi European Championships. McCutcheon had spent time helping the shore crew when in port and as part of the delivery crew, vital time spent familiarising himself with the systems on board and crew members, so when the call-up to join the race team arose, it was an opportunity Robbie could not turn down. 

“It is great to be a part of the Beau Geste program, such a fantastic crew of very hard-working and professional sailors, with a well-organised schedule. Through talking and asking (too many) questions, I am learning as much as I can from all individuals in the team to understand how to become and act like a  professional, as well as learning all aspects of what makes a successful campaign in the yachting world.”

The step into full-time professional sailing can often be difficult to navigate, and as a rookie trying to make the leap, Robbie talks through what has made a difference on his journey.

  • Make as many new connections as you can and get talking.  
  • Take every single opportunity you are offered. 
  • Treat meeting someone new as a job interview. You never know who they are or how they can help you in the future.   
  • Be enthusiastic. Always put your hand up and do any job that needs doing.   
  • Keep asking questions. Pick your timing on when to ask but constantly be trying to figure out why things are the way they are; this will give you a better understanding of the inner workings and shows you are interested and keen to learn.   
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