The following is a brief introduction to a match racing team from New Zealand:
Racing in Rimini, Italy
Waka Racing is a team of four young Kiwi sailors. Phil Robertson as skipper, Garth Ellingham as main, Sam Bell as trimmer/pit and James Williamson as trimmer/bow. All four began their sailing at young ages in various parts of Auckland and between them have won numerous national titles including the Starling Nationals and Tanner cup.
All three have graduated recently after very successful times spent in the prestigious Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Youth Training Programme winning a number of youth match racing regattas including the Harken, RNZYS youth international, Wellingtons Centerport, and recently the Warren Jones.
The team has recently left to spend the season in Europe in an attempt to gain experience and lower their ranking with an eventual goal of joining the world match macing tour. The team has already qualified for one world tour event this September in Denmark and will be doing more qualifiers.
After leaving for Europe the team has competed in a Grade 1 event in Calpe placing 10th out of 12 and have just won a Grade 3 in Rimini, Italy qualifying for a Grade 2 in the first week of June.
The following is the boys account of the regatta in Rimini:
The start of the regatta was a tricky one for the boys, with our fourth member Sam Bell joining us for the first time this year. We got off to a bad start defaulting the first race and rigging the boat in the pre start of our second. Only managing to win won one of four races that day putting us in a must win position for the rest of the round robin. The team pulled through convincingly posting 3 from 3 on the second day. The race committee then pushed on and started the semis and finals.
After a slight miss calculation by the race committee, thinking we had not qualified, we corrected them and secured the 4th and final spot for the semis. This would see us up against top ranked skipper, Italian Jacopo Pasini. After losing to him in the first round we managed to find some good form putting him away 2-0.
Race one we got a penalty on him in the pre-start and lead the whole race. The second race was the same with us getting another penalty on him in the pre start. This time despite his attempt to clear the penalty in the second beat he still had the lead and a penalty. He tried numerous times to slow down and trap us on the final run but we defended well and crossed the line with him attempting his turn.
Our Finals opponent was the other Italian Simone Ferrarese. Conditions were perfect. 8kts of breeze with a consistent direction. We won the desired leeward start in the first race and burned him off for pace around the track. 1-0 in a best of three final series. The second race didn’t go so well.
With a boat swap, we found a lot of water in the boat before the start and despite bailing it couldn’t find the pace we had in the first race but kept it close, losing by a boat length. Finding more water after the race we decided to protest and apply for another boat. We got a new boat after the conclusion of the petit finals so for the deciding race we felt much more confident. Pushing hard we let him make the mistake of being over and had a big lead off the line.
We maintained this lead during the race to win and take out the regatta!!
This is a fantastic win as it qualifies us for the Grade 2 in the same location at the start of June. The team was happy with the win and learned some valuable lessons throughout the competition. Now we are going to stick around here for a couple more days and then head off to Hungary for a training week against world number 12 Ian Anslie.
Good Bye for now and we will keep you all posted! Also make sure you check out our website (www.wakaracing.blogspot.com). We have some great photos and more to come shortly.