Sailors fight for NZ title at Titirangi’s French Bay Yacht Club

Mark and Daniel Orams (right) winner of the two-handed Jolly Boat NZ title and Steve Tennant (91) winner of the Singlehanded title racing at French Bay

Mark Orams added his 14th New Zealand title to his list of sailing achievements this weekend when he won the Jollyboat Class Championships run out of French Bay Yacht Club in Titirangi.

The holder of three world masters sailing titles was part of Sir Peter Blake’s Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race winning crew aboard Steinlager 2, and a member of Team New Zealand’s two America’s Cup defences in Auckland.

Yet he says that sailing with his nine-year old son, Daniel, in the event held on 14-15 March, was a great learning experience – this time in the craft of fatherhood.

'We bought our Jollyboat on his birthday last year. It has been a brilliant way to get him to enjoy sailing,' says Orams. 'He’s getting his confidence up, and he gets to helm sometimes. That’s what the class is all about.'

The Orams’ win came down to consistent sailing in what was a difficult regatta for the fleet of 25 boats. One race win and a handful of placings gave them 17 points to win overall, five points ahead of Maraetai’s Steve Tennant, who took out the title in the single handed division.

'The first day was a bit of a minefield,' says Orams. 'It was very challenging with the tide, big holes in the breeze, and big shifts as well... Things were a little steadier on Sunday, but still very tricky.'

Jolly Boats racing in the 2009 NZ Championships at French Bay

Steve Tennant, who started his sailing career in Jollyboats back in 1993, won the Singlehanded title. He agrees that the conditions were tough. 'If you made a mistake you had to pay for it.' Steve placed second in the regatta last year, and was second going in to the second day, but admits surprise at his win. 'I knew it very much depended on the weather. If it blew up hard I’d struggle. But it didn’t,' he says.

The regatta was studded with some of the country’s top competitors: Mark Perrow is the current OK Dinghy Champion, and Graham Fleury a former Whitbread and America’s Cup sailor.

Both winners were full of praise for the volunteers working at French Bay Yacht Club, which is billed as one of the friendliest yacht clubs in Auckland .

'French Bay did a wonderful job. It was very professional, very well done,' Steve says.

Matt Hall-Smith and Hamish Hall-Smith were the best of the local crews, coming second in the double handed division, and Paddy Charles was the top Titirangi based single-hander, placing ninth overall.

French Bay Yacht Club, based at the end of Otitori Bay Road just five minutes from Titirangi Village , hosts racing with the tides throughout summer and autumn... Membership enquiries are very welcome. The Jollyboat New Zealand Champs and the French Bay Yacht Club are supported by the Western Districts Community Grants Board and a host of local businesses, including My Canvas, Dirty Byrd, Artisan Wines, Red Seal Natural Health, Earthbound Honey, Mamor Artisan Chocolates, Dynamic IT, La Vincci Café and Titirangi Pharmacy.

For further information see:

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