Live Ocean Racing team reflect on the 2023 ETF26 campaign

13 October 2023

Live Ocean Racing finished the 2023 ETF26 SERIES in fourth, going one better than in their 2022 season result.  

After five events the team’s final position couldn’t have been closer with Live Ocean Racing edging out their closest rival Toroa Racing on countback after ending the season tied on 24 points.   

In March this year Live Ocean Racing announced the return of New Zealand’s foremost female foiling sailor Liv Mackay to lead the team for a tilt at the ETF26 SERIES for a second year. Alex Maloney also returned to the team, with fresh faces Seb Menzies, Serena Woodall and George Lee Rush welcomed in for 2023. 

Liv Mackay says, “It’s been an epic second season for us in the ETF class, it really feels like we’ve stepped up and it’s been super cool to have a consistent team. The year has been really interesting with the dynamic of having women and youth involved and we feel like we’ve learned a huge amount.”  

This year the series promised a step up in on-water competition. After three events in France, and one apiece in Italy and Spain, and the team confirm the ETF26 SERIES season delivered racing that was fast-paced, tight, and tactical.  

Alex Maloney says, “All the boats were so much closer. At this last event especially it was really tactical with the flat water. Everyone was foiling much more consistently downwind, so the fleet was really tight.” 

Last year’s all female Live Ocean Racing line-up proved to be a kick-starter for some of New Zealand’s top sailing talent to break into high profile foiling sailing leagues which in recent years have often been the exclusive territory of male sailors. This year the focus on pathway development for female sailors continued, while at the same time Live Ocean Racing brought on board emerging youth sailors. 

Fast, foiling boats with a crew of three or four means the ETF26 class provides Live Ocean Racing team a chance to develop new skills that could open the door to opportunities, and it’s something all the team members are grateful for.  

Newcomer Serena Woodall says, “Its super competitive and it’s really helped me progress my sailing and my learning in the sport. The team is awesome and to have the bigger names like Pete and Blair at the top of the team to look up to and go to for advice is something really special and pretty priceless.” 

Live Ocean Racing 2022 and 2023 skipper Liv Mackay now holds a place in the New Zealand SailGP team sailing with the team in season three and season four at events and the upcoming event in Cadiz, Spain.  

All four of the core sailors on the Live Ocean Racing 2023 team have been shortlisted to trial for a spot with Emirates Team New Zealand in either the women’s or youth America’s Cup teams to take part in their respective events as part of the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona in August and October 2024. Liv Mackay and Alex Maloney are among six women shortlisted for the initial women’s team trial, with Serena Woodall shortlisted among the youth female sailors named, while Seb Menzies is in the shortlist of youth male sailors. From the 2022 Live Ocean Racing team, Jo Aleh, Erica Dawson and Molly Meech have all been shortlisted too.  

Live Ocean Racing is a New Zealand team that races on the ocean, for the ocean – a separate, sister entity to marine conservation charity Live Ocean Foundation. The sailors are all proud to be part of a team with innovation and purpose baked into its DNA.  

Liv Mackay says, “I feel really proud to be racing on, and for the ocean. We started the year off with a trip with Manta Watch which I think really set the scene with everyone for how important it is, and I think it grew everyone’s connection with the state of the ocean.”  

Main trimmer, Seb Menzies says, “It’s really cool to be racing for a team which has a bigger purpose. I think the message we give is really important. Here in Spain we’ve had so many kids come up to us, and watch the racing, so to have the Live Ocean brand on our boat – its real cool to spread that awareness all around the world.”  

Live Ocean Racing is proud to backed by OMEGA.   

Serena Woodall says, “Having a prestigious brand such as OMEGA backing us this season has been incredible.” 

“The precision we need on the water is similar to what they aim to deliver with their watches,” Alex Maloney adds.  

With the wrap up of the ETF26 SERIES each of the Live Ocean Racing team have more on-water racing coming up including SailGP for Mackay, a month of competition in the 69F class racing for Woodall, and a return to the 49er for Seb Menzies and George Lee Rush. Trials for the New Zealand women’s and youth America’s Cup teams will take place over the summer. 

Very proud skipper Liv Mackay has a message from the team for all their fans and supporters;  

 “To everyone who has supported and backed Live Ocean Racing in 2023 I want to say a massive thank you and the team and I are super grateful. It’s been an epic journey, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

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