The challenging waters of the Waitemata Harbour will see action from the world’s best sailors this week.
Eleven teams of talented youth sailor’s line up for the NESPRESSO Youth International Match Racing Championships 2014 at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron! What started 14 years ago as club event has now captured the interest worldwide and become the crown event for youth sailing. Crews from USA, Australia and New Zealand will do battle for the illustrious International Youth Match Racing Cup! Today’s exciting weather conditions of at 15 – 20 knot south-westerly is expected for the duration of the event.
The event enjoys a strong link to the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco. Race Officer Harold Bennett comes to this event fresh from his role as On-Water Operations Manager and Assistant Race Officer for the last Cup. There is a lot of excitement amongst the teams and as Race Officer Bennett said at last night’s Opening Ceremony; 'If you look at the honours board for this event a lot of the names you will recognize as house-hold names; to all the competitors, have a dream of what you want to achieve and go for it!'
Ryan Davidson, the highest ranked skipper in the event from Balboa Yacht Club (#67 on the ISAF World Match Racing Rankings), comes fresh from a successful year with a win in the Kintec Summer Match Race Regatta Canada and Chicago Match Racing Centre Grade 3 Spring Invitational; the latter granting him automatic entry to the Chicago Match Cup Qualifier, the only US stop on the Alpari World Match Racing Tour. Davidson commented 'we have been trying to get down here for a while and are excited to be competing in Auckland.'
The highest ranked skipper of the two Squadron teams and fourth year member of the Squadron’s Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme, Rawiri Geddes, was on last year’s winning crew; however this will be his first time helming at this event. 'Having crewed successfully for various international regattas for the Squadron I am really looking forward to the challenge of helming and the level of competition', commented Geddes.
This is the fourth time the event will be sailed in the Squadron’s fleet of 10 Elliott 7 metre yachts used by the Youth Training Programme. Coach of the programme, Guy Pilkington, commented 'we are ready to go; the boats are in great condition and it’s great to have 11 teams competing this year; I am really looking forward to a great regatta.'
For the first time the event is being sailed with asymmetric gennakers which will add an exciting new dimension and challenge, with a lot of the teams not having sailed with them before. Milly Bennett of Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, one of two all-girl crews (the other Michelle Tait representing Bucklands Beach Yacht Club) is not afraid of the extra challenge; 'We are excited to be racing with gennakers which will make the racing a lot more tactical downwind.'
Racing is scheduled to begin at 10am each morning in front of the Squadron. All the action, draw, race results and photos will be constantly updated to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Website (www.rnyzs.org.nz), Facebook page www.facebook.com/RNZYS and Twitter account (@RNZYS).
America’s Cup sponsor NESPRESSO has continued its avid support of sailing around the world, from grass roots level, through youth development to the pinnacle of the sport with their sponsorship of Emirates Team New Zealand.
Let the racing begin!