Nick Egnot-Johnson, or EJ as he is known around the traps, is Doyle Sails’ in-house match racing expert. This season, Nick and his team KNOTS racing have a World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) card to enter all of the WMRT events.
Nick, was introduced to sailing at a young age, learning to sail off the back of the family cruising boat in an Optimist from the age of 7 years old. His American-born mother is the esteemed Leslie Egnot, who was a pathfinder for women yachties when, after winning silver in the 470 class at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, she became the first woman to helm an America’s Cup yacht as part of the all-women’s crew in San Diego in 1995.
Nick represented New Zealand at Optimist regattas in Mexico, Portugal, Korea, New Caledonia, Canada, and Australia where he became the first Kiwi sailor to win the International Optimist Australian and Open Championships when he headed a 150-strong fleet.
Nick is a three-time New Zealand Keelboat National Champion and his team were awarded the 2019 Performance Award by New Zealand Yachting. In 2022, Nick and KNOTS Racing claimed the World Match Racing Tour Championship in Sydney.
Knots Racing team are one of the most prominent up-and-coming match racing teams on the international circuit, currently, they sit 4th in the rankings for the WMRT.
EJ has put together his top tips on how to get into Match Racing and move up the rankings.
- Get a team together: Most of the events these days require a minimum of 4 on a team. I have found with my team that it is super beneficial to pick your team based on who you will be able to work well with for the long term. You don’t necessarily have to pick ‘rockstar’ sailors, but people who will provide their longevity to the team.
- Train as much as possible: We are lucky as a team to have access to the RNZYS E7 fleet for training. In our early days, we were out on the water up to 5-6 times a week practicing boat handling and learning the different aspects of Match Racing using the Elliots. Would for sure to any newcomers in New Zealand to join the YTP. Also you want to ideally find a training partner because you can’t practise Match Racing by yourself!
- Watch videos: There is so much content online posted by the WMRT that we all learned the different plays in Match Racing. The old tour videos with Ian Williams, Russell Coutts, Gavin Brady etc etc really showed the level that we needed to get ourselves, in order to be competitive on the WMRT.
- Travel to compete: This is a hard one because it initially takes quite a lot of self-funding in order to be able to travel and compete. Also having the required ‘World Ranking’ makes it hard to get entry into events. But I would 100% recommend making the effort to get into the youth international circuit, as you learn so much sailing against different teams and in other boats. Many of these events will also boost your ranking which will get you entry into higher-tier match race events.
- Have fun!: Most importantly it is all about having fun. Match Racing in my opinion is the most fun form of sailing racing you can do. The close boat-on-boat action and the teamwork side of things are super rewarding. If you are sailing with a good bunch of your friends, practising a lot, learning from online content and competing in as many events as you can, you will find the results will follow that!
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