It really has been a year of ups and downs. From a slow start at the beginning of the year with a couple of mid fleet results things took a sharp turn in Germany.
A second place finish in Match Race Germany was just the start we were after to kick off our first season on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Unfortunately consistency was hard to come by as we failed to make our way out of the qualifying rounds a few to many events in a row. The last couple of months competing in Europe have finally seen a return to form with some encouraging results and solid performances.
We knew that the secret to success was always going to be practise, practise, practise. With that in mind we based ourselves in Europe for a few months of back to back events. First stop was in Sopot, Poland for Sopot Match Race. Steady improvement throughout the week saw us finish in a solid second place; Unfortunately losing out to Frenchman Pierre-Antoine Morvan in tricky, shifty conditions on the final day. A short flight across to Denmark the following week had us on the start line for the Danish Open. We definitely approached this week as a training event, introducing a few crew changes and some position switch ups. This led to us not having the best result, coming in a disappointing fifth, but gave us a great chance to improve crew communication and processes. Perfect timing too, heading into the next World Tour Event, St Moritz Match Race in Switzerland.
A road trip through Italy and Switzerland led us to the resort town of St Moritz, nestled in the Swiss Alps. Being one of the most scenic stops on the World Tour, it was definitely a unique experience. Staying in the luxurious 5 star Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, sailing on a small lake in the Swiss Alps and waking to see snow on the surrounding mountains was definitely a first for all of us. Fortunately, even though there was sleet and snow on the race course, our form at the start of the week was hot. We finished first in the round robin stage and qualified directly through to the semi finals, an ideal result for us. The shifty lake conditions typical of St Moritz returned on the final day to put an end to our run of form, but a top 4 finish was exactly what we were after.
Back down to France at the end of September for our final 2 stops had us secure another 2 top 4 results. First was in Pornichet on the west coast of France for the Manu Minard Trophy with Match Race France World Tour Event the following week in Marseille. Both these regattas were in J80 yachts so a lot of teams took the opportunity to sail in Pornichet as a warm up for Match Race France. This made the level of competition at both events was extremely high with everyone sailing at the top of their game. This meant a third in Pornichet and another fourth place at Match Race France were both excellent results. We even managed to once again qualify first in the round robin in Marseille. We were really happy to see our hard work start to pay with some consistent results which is exactly what we were looking for.
The focus now turns a bit closer to home this week as Kiwimatch Sailing Team returns to Auckland for the New Zealand Match Racing Nationals. Once again, the NZ Nationals has attracted a top tier field with past and present Americas Cup skippers joining the top NZ match racing teams as well as some new up and comers. Sailed for the first time on the RNZYS Youth Training Elliott 7’s, this is going to be a great test for us, as well as some of the other teams to prove we can still match the younger generation on the smaller boats.
With the final event on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour also just around the corner, the NZ Nationals will be the perfect warm up event. These last couples of regattas are also an ideal way to cap off another solid year on the world match racing circuit. Kiwimatch Sailing Team is now ranked fifth in the world and is also the top ranked New Zealand match racing team. A great achievement given the extremely high standard of match racing teams around the country. The consistent performances over the last few months have also given us a real shot at a top 3 spot on the World Match Racing Tour. A win in Malaysia at the end of the year could even see us win the tour if other results go our way. A really great success for our first full year competing on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour.
With the first race of the NZ Nationals kicking off on Thursday eighth keep up to date as the action unfolds on the event website www.rnzys.org.nz. Kiwimatch Sailing Team will also be giving updates at www.kiwimatch-sailing.com. Lets see if we can finish the year off on a high.