by David Staley
SKUD Racing in the Pano Kiwi Cup, Napier
Thirty minutes before the scheduled start time for the final day of racing today, Race Officer Gerry Martin called a halt to the regatta as a southerly of 25+ knots piped in across Hawkes Bay on New Zealand’s North Island.
A number of competitors were towed back to the Napier Sailing Club by safety crews, assisted by the Noelex 25 fleet who had also abandoned racing. There will be several competitors disappointed they did not have the opportunity to improve their position on the scoreboard, but most were just happy to be back ashore and drying out.
Wellington sailor Michael Jones (NZL) has won the Liberty competition by one point over Magali Moraines (FRA). Current World and European Champion, Moraines was in a strong position after the first day but was slower in the stronger breezes yesterday. Jones has been steadily improving his skills and regatta results since placing third in the Silver fleet at the 2009 Kiwi Cup in Auckland. His win will boost his confidence and he will be a sailor to watch at the 2012 Access Class Worlds being held in Sydney.
Chris Cook (AUS), who led the Liberty fleet on day one, dropped from first to fifth overall enabling Auckland sailors John Toole (NZL) and Max Stacey (NZL) to move up the leader-board. Toole finished in third, 4 points ahead of Stacey and 4 behind Moraines.
Tess Connell & Briar Mannering (Auckland & Napier) dropped a second place score from day two to take a resounding win in the all New Zealand Access 303 competition. Alexander O’Connor (Wellington) held second position on both days and finished 6 points ahead of fellow Wellington sailors Genevieve McLachlan & Jane Thomasson. Vision impaired sailor, Dennis Hebberley (Hawkes Bay), sailed consistently in the fresh conditions on Friday to secure fourth spot. Alice Leslie, the young super-lightweight from Wellington, put in a gutsy performance to finish fifth overall.
The SKUD 18 fleet finished in the same order it started out in race one. Fresh from regattas in Sydney and Melbourne during December, Tim Dempsey and Jan Apel from Auckland (NZL) strung together 6 wins from 8 starts to win the SKUD nationals and the Kiwi Cup. The pair who have qualified New Zealand for a place in the 2012 Paralympic Sailing Competition are going from strength to strength under Yachting New Zealand coach Rob Hielkema and the training and competition program they have put together leading up to the Paralympic Games in the UK.
Jovin Tan and Desiree Lim (SIN) sailed very consistently to secure second overall but could not match the speed of the Dempsey & Apel. Krista Bailey & Russell Phillips (AUS) sailed well yesterday to build a break from the other SKUD teams and take third spot. All 5 SKUD 18 teams competing in Napier will now move on to the Sail Auckland International Regatta and join in a training camp run by Hielkema before heading home to their respective countries.
All the visiting sailors have enjoyed the facilities and hospitality of the Napier Sailing Club and Sailability Hawkes Bay. The Club has done an outstanding job of conducting a world-class regatta at the same time as hosting the Noelex 25 and Hartley TS 16 Nationals.
The Kiwi Cup has been generously supported by the Glenn Family Foundation, Hooker Pacific Transport, Mondiale Freight Services and New Zealand Sailability programs.
Results are available from the Napier Sailing Club website: www.napiersailingclub.org.nz