Brad and Robin Marsh are highly regarded and internationally acclaimed sailors who have that special mix of adventure and sport running through their veins. In fact, you’ll find this husband and wife duo in their element not only sailing on the world stage and part of some of the most advanced Grand Prix sailing campaigns but also making waves on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf in their aptly named Young 88 Dangerzone.
Marsh was born in Whangarei with sailing very much in his blood. His parents Peter and Jenny Marsh, are keen sailors and held various positions at Onerahi Yacht Club when Brad was younger. Although Brad didn’t take to sailing initially, ultimately it was his innate sense of adventure and competitiveness that drew him back to the sport “ I didn't take to it like a fish in water instead diverting to the sport of golf for a few years as a teenager. Eventually, the ocean and the freedom of direction drew me back in, and I became obsessed with competitive keelboat racing and the team spirit idea”. After finishing school, Marsh got involved in the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron youth programme and soon after completing it received a phone call from Team NZ asking him to join their shore crew for the next two years, with a focus on the mast and rigging. Since this defining moment, Brad hasn’t looked back and clocked up some significant pro sailing achievements including being bowman on overall race winner Groupama in the 2011-12 Volvo Ocean Race.
Across the Pacific in her native Canada, Robin grew up cruising with her family and racing in local club regattas alongside her sister. With a passion for adventure and sailing at the heart of her family, it was no surprise that a trip of a lifetime was proposed to her at the family dinner table. “My dad said at dinner one night that he’d like to have our yacht in New Zealand for the 2003 America’s Cup, so who would help getting it down there? I'm the youngest of three siblings, and we all took turns sailing the boat on the different legs down.” Robin says she and her sister could not find their passports fast enough.
Since then, Robin has sailed to NZ from Canada twice on her family yacht, crossed the Atlantic Ocean three times, covered the Mediterranean, notching up well over 45,000 nautical miles. On the competitive race circuit, Robin has worked on many top-level yachting programs as a rigger including two Sydney to Hobarts (including sailing a Sydney to Hobart), the Hugo Boss Open 60, Team Sanya Volvo Ocean Race and was part of the all-women Volvo Team SCA for three months in 2013.
These days although the couple enjoys family cruising holidays on their Young 88 with son Seb, who shares the same enthusiasm and love of the ocean, the thrill of competing is never far from their minds. In fact, the couple has been making a strong showing recently in one of NZ’s biggest One Design keelboat classes, the Young 88s, winning the Doyle Sails Mixed Division of the SSANZ Lewmar Triple Series in October.
Next up is the Young 88 Harken Nationals in November. Aside from having the obligatory Bacon and Egg pie on board, Brad says preparation will be key in the lead-up. “Campaigning any boat is all about preparation and an understanding of the equipment. Everyone racing on the harbour comes from different walks of life and different career paths but how they merge together on a boat is the most important aspect. The winning boat often has as much of the complete package as is possible. A reliable boat, reliable equipment, a good game plan, and a solid team”.
Dangerzone will be sporting a full Doyle Sails inventory when she takes the start line at the National’s, with a major drawcard for working with Doyle being “ the sails are made in New Zealand by New Zealander’s for New Zealander’s”. Along with being fellow race comrades on the circuit “On the racetrack with you or next to you are the people that have been involved in that process. It gives authenticity, it gives assurance, it gives results and also a quality overall experience.”
With a passion for sailing that spans family cruising, club racing to more recently shorthanded sailing, where to next for the couple? Robin loves the challenge of shorthanded sailing saying communication and teamwork is key. “Also trying your best to take a minute to eat something and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to keeping warm, cool, hydrated, sun screened [and so forth]. You need to take care of yourselves first or else the boat won’t get around the course on its own.” Whereas Brad loves the competitiveness of sailing a boat to its full potential “I like the challenge of sailing any boat to its potential of what you have on the day. I like the challenge of doing it better than someone else with the same resources. So as long as everyone is shorthanded or fully crewed it is the spirit of competition that is addictive.”
On the horizon is an additional crew member for the Marsh family, with Robin 20 weeks pregnant, she will sit the Nationals out with the plan to compete alongside Brad once again next year for the SSANZ series and in the future potentially the Round North island 2 handed race.
The Doyle Sails One Design group of experts boasts some of the world’s leading sailors and sail designers, all with equally impressive lists of accomplishments and accolades across a wide variety of classes and events.
For more information on Doyle Sails One Design, contact your local loft.