New Zealand's most successful International Class will celebrate another milestone in the coming days when for the 50th time a New Zealand Champion will be crowned,seven races over a revised schedule of 5 days including a layday will see plenty of time for both some fierce on the water action and a chance to celebrate 50 years of National competition.
Ben Morrison - 2012 OK Interdominions and NZ Nationals, Wakatere BC April 2012
The beautiful surroundings of the Napier Sailing Club will host the 35 competitors all vying for this years title but starting as favourite will be Ben Morrison from Aucklands Wakatere Boating Club,as defending champ and a past Napier local Morrison once again looks to have the tools to rack up a third national title,but with plenty of depth in the class Morrison also knows one step out of place and champ can easily be replaced with chump!
In the 49 Nationals to date no sailor under the Napier Sailing Club flag has ever taken the title back to the Bay,so on home waters could the 50th be NSC year,here we take a look at a few of the contenders.......
Starting with the home team:
Light air flyer Chris Fenwich has coupled together pace and smart tactical sailing in the light to show if conditions are under 10 knots he will be hard to beat,domination of the light wind races at the East Coast Champs 3 weeks ago marked him down as a contender if conditions suit.
If local knowledge and experience are the keys to this regatta than you cant look past the Mannering brothers Ade and Nige,both well seasoned campaigners,both have gone close to the title in the past and both showed at the East Coast regatta they still have the 'Boogie',ones to watch if conditions are varied and consistencey counts.
Others to watch from Napier,Rob Hengst,Adrian Coultard,Trent Pryce and Jake Weekes
From the Capital:
Put blistering moderate and fresh air pace together with enough brain power for two humans seat him in NZL 517 and you have 07 National Champ and former Worlds runner up Paul Rhodes,Gouch as he is known round the fleet is one of the most consistant performers in the class over the last decade,victory at the Hurricane Champs this year as well as the runner up spot at last years Interdominion has Rhodes placed nicely for a serious tilt at the title.
Another former Napier sailor now coming from the Worser bay Boating Club Luke O Connell returns home eager to wrap up his first title,sporting one of the new Dan Leech designed plywood OKs,Colt will put awesome reaching speed and a great knack for reading Napiers some times fickle conditions together to be assured of being near the sharp end of the leader board.
Although short on preparation having just launched the other Leech OK,05 National Champ on the same waters Steve McDowell will no doubt improve rapidly through out the contest,pace right across the wind ranges and great decision making will see McDowell there when the cards are counted.
others to watch from the Capital Joe Porebski and Matt Stechmann
From the City of Sails:
As well as Morrison Auckland will be well represented
Russell Woods, 2004 National Champ and heavy air specialist will travel to Napier on a boom or bust mission,if breezes are 15 knots plus mortgage the house and put the Cash on 'Mudsy' devstating upwind in the breeze and surprisingly fast off the wind in the fresh Woods would go head to head with Rhodes for the title if the wind blows.
Others to watch the experienced Miles Addy and new boy on the block Rod Davis
A full social programme will compliment the racing with a sit down dinner prize giving next friday night will crown this years champ,stay tuned for daily racing reports here at Sail-World NZ