Nine crews sailed in the New Zealand 470 Class Nationals with entries from Kerikeri, Manly, Auckland and Tauranga.
Dolphins swam amongst the dinghies before and during racing. - NZ 470 Nationals
2012 Olympic 470 helmsman Paul Snow-Hansen with new crew (and old rival) Daniel Willcox of Auckland won the regatta in a competitive open fleet. Racing was held over three days at Kerikeri Cruising Club, a wonderful host with a small core of friendly helpers. Water and cell phone coverage was short, and we didn't have access to internet, but that was more than compensated for by kiwi's running around on the lawn, dolphins playing around the boats and having sailing celebrity Torben Grael in our midst.
Day 1: Francisco Lardies and Luke Stevenson come out on top
Torben Grael attended the prizegiving and presents the winning trophy to Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox. - NZ 470 Nationals
Sailing took place beyond the Te Puna inlet entrance with the top mark near the picturesque Brothers Islands. A south westerly wind was shifting 20 degrees back and forth as the breeze came and went, racing was initially delayed due to lack of wind, but the breeze built through the day and got up to around 15 knots. It was a long day on the water, but all four scheduled races were sailed.
Competition was close with the whole fleet mixing it up, sailors came ashore with grins on their faces and were describing the wind as 'crazy' and 'random'. Local race committee member Tony Dalbeth commented that the sailors had some good kite reaches and it was 'all on' at times. Lardies and Stevenson read the conditions best of all winning two races and were placed first on countback from Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox; not far behind were James Turner and 2008 Olympic crew Carl Evans who won the last race of the day.
Day 2: Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox claim the lead
On the second day racing was delayed by several hours as the south westerly fought with the sea breeze. Conditions were light and unstable all day, and the wind kept clocking left with 30 degree shifts at times - very difficult conditions for the race committee. Three of the four scheduled races were sailed.
A sizeable dolphin pod arrived while sailors waiting for racing to get underway and provided lots of entertainment for the 470 fleet, as well as the 420 sailors who were also sailing on the course... The dolphins made their presence felt during racing as they brushed against rudders and centre boards, and several 420 crews missed their start due to the distraction!
Day 3: Snow-Hansen and Willcox take the title
Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox are in their first regatta since teaming up for a 2016 Olympic campaign.. - NZ 470 Nationals
After a short delay racing began in a dying north westerly - in the first race the fleet only managed a windward leeward before the course had to be shortened. Snow-Hansen and Willcox believed they were over the line and came back to restart but they managed a good come back to win the race.
Once the wind stabilised from the west the race committee did a great job getting in another two races. Lardies and Stevenson fought it out with Turner and Carl to finish the series one point apart in second and third respectively. Turner and Evans won the second race of the day, Lardies and Stevenson the third.
Amongst the supporters who attended the event were legendary Torben and Adrea Grael. We were privileged to have Torben present the sailors with their awards, and give words of encouragement to the gathered 470 and 420 sailors . We would like to thank Race Officer Paddy and his helpers; Mackay Boats who donated a rudder, boom and spinnaker pole as prizes; and North Sails NZ who also donated prizes. Unfortunately Olympic Gold medalists Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie were unable to attend to defend their title.
First overall - Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox
Second overall - James Turner and Carl Evans
Third overall - Francisco Lardies and Luke Stevenson
Top junior crew and fourth overall - Gareth Moore and Vicky Francis
Top masters crew and sixth overall - Richard and John Power
For full results go to the NZ 470 Association website: www.470sailing.org.nz/results
Francisco Lardies and Luke Stevenson waiting for wind. - NZ 470 Nationals
The committee boat waiting for wind. - NZ 470 Nationals
The course was set between the Black Rocks and The Brothers Islands. - NZ 470 Nationals
Starts were a challenge for all sailors on a short start line. - NZ 470 Nationals
Gareth Moore and Vicky Francis port tack the fleet. - NZ 470 Nationals
Nine boats took part in the regatta, including Olympic, junior and master sailors. - NZ 470 Nationals
Racing on Day Two of the 470 Nationals in light conditions. - NZ 470 Nationals