Student job with a difference

09 May 2018
Oliver Scott-Mackie sailed on the international yacht circuit while studying
Oliver Scott-Mackie sailed on the international yacht circuit while studying

Student jobs are notoriously low-paid and unglamorous. But not Oliver Scott-Mackie’s. The Tauranga-born 27-year-old is supporting his studies not by making coffees or labouring, but by crewing multi-million dollar boats on the international yachting circuit.

Scott-Mackie graduated this week with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Auckland, and is staying on to do a masters degree in supply chain management. Already this year he has raced – and won his division – in the Rolex China Sea Race from Hong Kong to the Philippines.

He averages about five events a year, each lasting one to two weeks and earning him enough to cover a couple of months’ rent. His second “student job” is sailmaking, a craft he began practicing at age 16 after leaving Tauranga Boys’ College, with the support of mum Mandy and dad David. Before moving to Auckland, he was a member of the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club.

Sailmaking opened doors for him to try his hand sailing semi-professionally.

“I’ve always loved sailing and the opportunity to go overseas and race while studying is pretty special,” he says. “The contrast between studying and sailing is nice but also quite stressful at times. Many of the overseas events fall at busy times of the semester, like the last week of class, and require me to watch lectures on planes or spend evenings in hotel rooms writing assignments or studying notes to get ready for tests or exams once I get back.”

His lecturers have all been supportive and understanding, he says.

“A lot of class mates don’t know how I manage to find the balance between studying and travelling for work, but those that do think it’s quite awesome. My family help me find the balance, and my partner Mairéad is very supportive.”

He has competed on a Botin 65 yacht named Caro in St Tropez, Malta, Palma and out of the UK, and the Sydney-Hobart race. In Australia he sails a JV 62 in a team called Chinese Whisper; in Asia he races with team Zannekin on a Ker 46, and with team Shatoosh on a Warick 75. For fun, he races 12 foot skiffs from Auckland’s Royal Akarana Yacht Club, where he is a member.



Nicola Shepheard, Media Adviser, The University of Auckland
Tel: 09 923 1515   Mob: 027 537 1319