Youngest on board – and skipper

Youngest on board – and skipper

At 22, fresh faced Chase Saunders-Loder has become one of the youngest fishing boat skippers in New Zealand, commanding grizzled fishermen twice his age.

The youngster has returned from his first six week fishing trip off the West Coast, driving the 27 metre stern trawler Resolution. "And he managed to fill the boat", says his satisfied boss, Richard Pollock, director of Richardson Fishing Company which owns the vessel.

Saunders-Loder was the youngest on board, but Pollock says age has been no impediment to the rapid rise to the top of the determined young seaman.

He recently graduated with his skipper's ticket from the International Maritime Institute of New Zealand (IMINZ) at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), one of the youngest ever to do so.

The qualification is the culmination of four years work at Richardson Fishing, starting as a 17 year-old straight from Motueka High School.

Chase says he was considering going to university but was offered a deck hand job. He quickly moved through the ranks, studying at IMINZ while gaining experience at sea.

"It's just the quickest road to the top. You don't want to be on deck for 20 years and then decide 'oh I might go and be a skipper'".

Boss Richard Pollock says there was no hesitation in giving him the helm. "He's earned his stripes and has the respect of all the crew".

Richard Pollock says his young skipper is dedicated and hard working, an attitude which has also seen him buy his first house, in Motueka.

Head of the International Maritime Institute of New Zealand at NMIT Katherine Walker says Chase is a prime example of how young people can succeed in the maritime industry, from fishing vessels to sea going ships.

Captain Walker, who spent ten years on large vessels, reaching the rank of Chief Officer, is hoping more young people take up a maritime career, helping meet a huge demand for officers and seamen and women. The International Maritime Organisation is forecasting international shortages of 42,000 officers by 2019.

Chase says studying at IMINZ has been good and the institute has all the facilities needed.

"The tutors are obviously all quite knowledgeable – they're all master mariners and the resources are great. We use the simulators for the radar part of the course and the bridge resources section. We're in there each day using the navigation aids".

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