Kiwi sailor Rick Dodson pictured in 2018 during a trip to Whangārei. Photo / Tania Whyte
Northlanders have the unique opportunity to meet America’s Cup champion and Paralympian Rick Dodson as he makes waves in Whangārei by sharing his journey with multiple sclerosis.
Dodson will be launching his biography, Storms Ahead – Rick Dodson: America’s Cup champion to Paralympian, at the Whangārei Cruising Club on Saturday at 5pm. The event is free and open to people of all ages.
The former America’s Cup strategist was encouraged to preserve his story in the pages of a book, with the help of journalist Rebecca Hayter, by close mate and fellow elite sailor Matthew Mason, originally from Whangārei.
“Rick was dying of boredom – he was unemployable. He was calling everyone saying I need a job. People just weren’t calling him back. That’s when we decided why doesn’t he do a book?” Mason said.
For Dodson to be in Whangārei with 220 inspirational pages about his life was monumental as Mason explained how his mate had spent 10 years in denial about MS before finally becoming brave enough to tell friends about his deteriorating health.
“The book isn’t about making money. It’s about giving Rick a lease of life, something to wake for every day,” Mason said.
Dodson played his life the same way he won races, by looking ahead. It won him two world championships, national championships and victories in some of New Zealand’s greatest moments in sailing including the Admirals Cup and America’s Cup.
For more than 25 years, he was a co-owner of North Sails NZ Ltd on its rise to the top of world sailing technology.
But even Dodson’s eye for the future couldn’t foresee his 1997 diagnosis of MS – a long-lasting disease of the central nervous system that would eventually impact every aspect of his life.
“His MS got worse and worse but when he accepted that fact he set his sights on becoming a Paralympian,” Mason said.
In 2012, Dodson with former America’s Cup skipper David Barnes embarked on a campaign to compete with Kiwi Gold Sailing in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. He debuted in the games alongside crew mates Chris Sharp and Andrew May and narrowly missed out on the bronze medal in the three-person keelboat event (Sonar).
Dodson’s book was released around three weeks ago and was two years in the making. The biography is available from www.rebeccahayter.co.nz/