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Seven teams line up for NZ Womens Match Racing Nationals

by Amber Roberts on 28 Feb 2013
NZ Womens National Matchracing Championships RNZYS Media©

Seven teams of New Zealand’s most talented female match racers are in the final stages of their preparation to compete in the New Zealand Women’s Match Racing Championships 2013 at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Teams from the Buckland’s Beach Yacht Club, the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club and five RNZYS teams, including two representing the Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme, will compete this week for the Leith Mossman Memorial Trophy.

Claudia Pierce, representing the RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme, is the highest ranked skipper going into the championships at 46th on the ISAF Female World Match Racing Rankings. The 20 year old has just competed in last week’s HARKEN Youth International Match Racing Championships, also held at the RNZYS in the Elliott 7’s where she placed a credible fourth overall. This is Pierce’s second time competing and first time helming in this event; Pierce was part of Samantha Osborne’s crew in 2011 placing third overall.

Samantha Osborne is the second highest ranked skipper at 95th on the ISAF Rankings. Osborne at just 26 years of age is a veteran of this event competing annually since 2006, including helming in all five events held since 2007. Osborne placed third in 2010 and third the last time this event was held in 2011. She also teams up with the 2005 and 2009 Women’s Match Racing Champion Jessica McDowell (nee Smyth) and her crew Aimee Famularo (also a two time winner of this event).

The second RNZYS Youth Team is helmed by Hannah Osborne (no connection); Hannah also competed in last week’s Harken Youth Regatta and placed eighth overall, qualifying for the quarter finals but unlucky as the light airs meant Race Management could not compete the full series moving straight into semi-finals with just the top four teams.

Both Pierce and Hannah Osborne retain several crew from the Harken event; Pierce retains bow-woman Holly Hamlin, with Osborne also again sailing with Paige Cook on trim and Robyn de Lang on main. In anticipation of the regatta Pierce commented; 'This should a great regatta, and I’m looking forward to competing against my former skipper Sam Osborne', referring to their previous Olympic trials campaign.

The New Zealand Women’s Match Racing Championships were last held in 2011 with five female teams competing, the 2012 was unfortunately cancelled due to a lack of entries.

The 2011 champion, London Olympic 470 Class Gold Medallist Olivia Powrie, is back again this year but this time has given up the helm to Susannah Pyatt. Pyatt also competed at the London Olympics in the Elliott 6 Women’s Match Racing discipline with her skipper Stephanie Hazard and mainsheet hand Jenna Hansen. Hansen also joins Pyatt this week and both were part of Hazard’s crew who finished runner up to Powrie in the 2011 event.

Michelle Tait and one of her crew Stephanie Kirkman were also part of last week’s Harken youth regatta. This will be Tait’s first time helming and competing in this event, however the 17 year old has had considerable experience in the Elliott 7’s competing in two youth events the RNZYS runs annually - the Harken Schools Regatta and Nespresso National Youth Training Week held at Kawau Island.

Genevieve Kayat representing the New Zealand Multihull Yacht Club is a new comer to the series; 'I decided to enter the event because I wanted to throw myself into match racing'. Kayat brings skiff and catamaran sailing experience to the event.

Our final skipper Melinda Henshaw is also a first time skipper in the event but a long history of very competitive dinghy sailing and is sure to bring a level of experience to the competition.

The New Zealand Women’s Match Racing Championships is sailed in the Squadron’s fleet of 10 Elliott 7 metre yachts used by the Squadron’s Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme. Coach of the programme Guy Pilkington has been busy in the last few days making sure the boats are in top condition following the Harken regatta; Pilkington commented, 'The Elliott yachts performed perfectly in the HARKEN and we know they’ll do the same in this regatta – we are rearing to get the ladies out on the water and let them lose on the boats!’

Race Officer for the event Mike Best is looking forward to the regatta but is conscious of the light forecast; 'At this stage the wind is looking very, very light - Friday looks like the best breeze of 8-9 knots, and unfortunately at this point the forecast for Saturday and Sunday is only about 1-3'. Best added 'The Race Management team will be doing everything we can to ensure we complete the two Round Robins before moving onto the Semis and Finals!'

All teams will have their official practice day on Thursday with Opening Ceremony in the evening. Racing begins at 10am on Friday.

For results and regular updates throughout the regatta visit the Squadron homepage www.rnzys.org.nz and our Facebook page www.facebook.com/Royal_New_Zealand_Yacht_Squadron

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