by Kerry Ellis
Peter Burling gets some tips on setting up his A Class from Glenn Ashby. Emirates Team New Zealand sailors prepare their A Class catamarans for the upcoming National championships and World championships regattas being sailed at Takapuna in Auckland
Anticipation for the 2014 A-Class Catamaran World Championships has been building, and the wait is finally over.
The one-handed racing event, which has attracted 79 competitors from around the world, will begin Saturday on the exciting waters off Takapuna. The ten-day event starts with the New Zealand Nationals, held 6-8 February, followed by the Worlds from 10-16 February.
Two of the first contestants to sign on to compete in the Champs were new recruits to Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), Olympians Pete Burling and Blair Tuke. The duo are joined by fellow ETNZ alumni, seven-times A-Class world champion Glenn Ashby, tactician Ray Davies, and design team members Pete Melvin, Lux Dubois and Nat Shaver.
Other big names include Kiwi Chris Nicholson, who will be making his A-Class debut, and Australian Olympian and member of the 2013 Artemis America’s Cup campaign Nathan Outteridge. With such high calibre entrants, the racing is bound to be close, fast and furious.
The America’s Cup link has not been lost on key event sponsors Southern Spars. 'We see the A-Class Champs as a ‘mini America’s Cup’, that is bringing forward up and coming young sailors like Peter Burling and Blair Tuke,' said Mark Hauser, director at Southern Spars. 'Southern Spars has long been a part of the America’s Cup and encouraging local sailing talent, and we are delighted to be supporting the A-Class event and all its participants.'
News that the eight members of ETNZ are signed up to compete has turned the spotlight of the local and international press on the event, and large numbers of supporters are expected to follow the racing over the coming ten days. The Championships are intended as being an interactive showcase of racing for both on-water and land-based spectators, with easy viewpoints of all the on-water action from Takapuna Beach. With so many leading sailors from New Zealand and around the world taking part, it will be the ideal place to watch world-class sailing close hand.