Biography

Leslie Egnot Born 1963  Leslie Egnot was born in the United States, but her family moved to New Zealand when she was 10 and she grew up in Christchurch. She and her sister Jenny (who was to sail for New Zealand at the Sydney 2000 Olympics) became involved in sailing. 

Leslie created headlines in her early teens when she won the Tanner Cup, the first female to win the national P class event. She had plenty of early success, winning a national 470 title in 1988 with her sister.   She had her first taste of the Olympic experience at Pusan in 1988 when she was a reserve for the women’s 470 team of Jan Shearer and Fiona Galloway. Then, after encouragement from Yachting New Zealand’s Hamish Wilcox, she teamed with Aucklander Shearer and they won the national 470 title four times - in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1996. 

At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics the pair claimed the silver medal in a field of 17. They finished with 36.7 points, behind only the Spaniards, Theresa Zabell and Patricia Guerra. Eight boats, including the New Zealanders, were disqualified in the first race for starting prematurely. After that Egnot and Shearer sailed consistently well and they moved from fourth to second in the final race, which they won. It was their third win of the regatta. Egnot and Shearer attempted to better the feat four years later in the Olympic sailing event off Savannah, but Egnot was carrying a serious injury and their campaign faltered early. They eventually finished 16th of the 22 starters. 

In 1995 Egnot, reverting to her American passport, skippered Bill Koch’s boat Mighty Mary in the America’s Cup and reached the challenger final, where she pushed Dennis Conner all the way in an exciting series. 

Egnot had other successes on the water – she finished second in the 1989 470 women's world championships in Japan, and contested the 1990 women's world keelboat title and the 1991 women's North American 470s championship. 

She continued to race successfully well after her Olympic days had ended and in 2011 won the national women’s keelboat championships in Auckland. Her crew comprised Jenny Clarke, Keryn McMaster, Kylie Jameson, Felicity Lind-Mitchell, Sara Tucker and Amy Batchelor. 

Egnot, based in Auckland, became one of Yachting New Zealand’s six contracted coaches and its Olympic Operations Manager.