Our Coaches

Robert Gastaldo-Brac (Head Coach – Foil, Epee)

Robert grew up in the UK and started fencing at the age of 14; soon after he was the Hertfordshire U16 Champion. That was in the mid 70’s, and Robert has been involved in fencing in one form or another his entire life. He captained the London Team against Counties (“the rest”) in 1983, fenced for Salle Allen and the London Polytechnic Teams, represented London at foil and fenced in tournaments all over Europe. Robert has been a coach in New Zealand since 1985. In 1987 he attended the Olympic Solidarity Coaching and Fencing Course. He coached at Upper Hutt College, Marsden School, Victoria University and Wellington High School, where he coached juniors as well as international level fencers.

The list of his credentials and contributions to the sport is extensive:

  • A fencing referee for over 25 years,
  • Wellington and National Representative for foil,
  • Fencing representative on the NZ Olympic Committee,
  • Previously Wellington President for Fencing and served as Treasurer over the years,
  • National Treasurer for FENZ at various times (20+ years)
  • Manager on National School trips
  • Manager for NZ Commonwealth Champs (Newcastle 2002, Aus)
  • Tournament organiser.
  • Robert was taught by the best of British fencing: Mike Law, Derek Allen, Roy and Angela Goodall (fencing and coaching training) and legendary Hungarian Master Coach Bela Imregi, who produced many world-class champions.
  • Since Dec 2014, Robert has been High Performance Coach for the Sports Wellington Athlete Development Programme and he was selected for the Sports Wellington Advanced Coaching Course.

Russell Johnson (Senior Coach – Sabre, Foil)

I have been fencing at HVFC for the past 16 years starting at the age of 7. I have been coaching in 2011 by helping our senior coach with group work. I have achieved my OFMA level 1 coaching qualifications. This an internationally recognised coaching standard which I have been able to utilize as part of a wider coaching team, and now as an independent coach since 2013. In terms of individual achievements, I have represented NZ in foil and sabre at Australian competitions as an U13, U15 and U17 fencer. Last year I represented NZ in the Oceania Fencing Championships where I won the U20 sabre title. I have also represented New Zealand at the South East Asian Championship in 2017. I have held a number of national sabre titles such as the North Island Open Sabre, NZ Secondary School Sabre and NZ U20 Sabre titles.

Nathan Newton (Senior Coach – Foil, Epee)

I have been a member of HVFC since 2012, regularly competing in foil and epee, and I am now a club committee member. I have been coaching since 2014, and in 2016, I completed the Level 1 Oceania Fencing Master Academy accreditation. I enjoy working with fencers of all ages and abilities, with a particular passion for introducing beginners to the world of fencing, and supporting the development of our intermediate and competitive level fencers. Highlights of my fencing career include 2017 representation of New Zealand in Australia for the senior foil and epee, as well as competing at the Oceania Championships, as a junior in 2016, and again as a senior on 2017. I also compete regularly on the national and region stage.

Nyah Holland (Junior Coach – Foil)

Hey, I am Nyah. I’m 16 in June and I have been fencing for 6 years. Last year I completed my Level 0 coaching course. I love fencing because I love competing, and making lots of new friends along the way.

Winter Johnson (Junior Coach – Foil, Epee)

My name is Winter and I have been fencing at HVFC for about 6 years. I will turn 16 this year in September and I also gained my Level 0 coaching accreditation in October last year. I love the sport of fencing and fence both foil and sabre competitively.