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Countdown starts- Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland

by Jodie Bakewell-White on 12 Feb 2008
35 Tornados are expected for the 2008 Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland regatta © Richard Gladwell www.richardgladwell.com

Sailors and organisers are counting down to Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland 2008 with racing set to start this weekend on Saturday 16th February off Kohimarama Yacht Club.

The ISAF grade one event which runs over four days will this year boast world class fleets in the Tornado and women’s Laser Radial with many internationals currently in New Zealand preparing for their respective World Championships. RS:X windsurfers, Lasers, 470s, 420s and 2.4 metres will also compete in Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland.

Competition starts on Saturday 16th and continues Sunday 17th, Monday 18th and concludes on Tuesday 19th with prize-giving to follow. Most sailors will launch from Kohimarama Yacht Club and racing will take place on the waters of the Waitemata Harbour.

If conditions allow, each of the fleets will sail a twelve race series over the course of the regatta the last of which is the final deciding medal race in which only the top ten placed sailors’ sail.

Tornado

Current confirmed entries: 34
Predicted entries: 35
Nations represented: 13

Racing in the Tornado fleet promises to be exciting with 25 of the high-speed catamarans already entered with more entries expected.

A multitude of international sailors are already in New Zealand ahead of the Tornado World Championships which start less than a week after the conclusion of Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland. For them this regatta represents a great opportunity for some lead-up competition and a taste of the on-water conditions.

Top Australian pair and world ranked number one, Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby are in the starting line-up as are two-time Olympic champions Roman Hagara and Hans Peter Steinacher of the Netherlands. Hagara and Steinacher were in town in time for the Tornado National Championships where they came out on top.

Local star and former Olympic medallist in windsurfing Aaron McIntosh will be one of a number of crews representing New Zealand sailing with Mark Kennedy as crew.

“Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland 2008 is the ideal Pre Worlds event as most competitors will be competing,” says Aaron McIntosh. “This is a chance for everyone to confirm equipment, selections and complete their World Championship build up.”

Laser Radial Women

Current confirmed entries: 38
Predicted entries: 60
Nations represented: 15

The Laser Radial has also attracted an unprecedented fleet with 15 nations represented including nearly all the top name sailors. New Zealand’s Olympic representative for 2008 Jo Aleh will be up against her international counter-parts with the advantage of local knowledge.

The 21 year old from West Auckland came out on top of the latest release of ISAF world rankings for the Laser Radial class. A highlight for Aleh in 2007 was a silver medal at the Olympic Test Event sailed in Qingdao in August.

Her main rivals also competing at Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland are Tania Elias Calles (MEX), Anna Tunnicliffe (USA), Evi Van Acker (BEL) and Sarah Blanck (AUS). With the Laser Radial World Championships on in Takapuna in mid March this regatta is a chance to warm-up and become familiar with conditions.

RS:X Windsurfing

Strong fleets are also expected in the RS:X windsurfing with local legend Barbara Kendall taking part. Organisers have 27 confirmed entries in the men’s RS:X fleet and around 13 in the women’s RS:X.

The Schedule

Date Time of first warning signal Number of Races
Sat 16 Feb 1200hours 3
Sun 17 Feb 1100hours 4
Mon 18 Feb 1100hours 3
Tues 19 Feb 1000hours 2
(Including the medal race)

What is a Medal Race?

The format for racing at the Olympic Games has changed since Athens 2004 with the introduction of the Medal Race.

The idea is that at the end of the race series only the top ten sail one final race that counts for double-points. Sailors are not allowed to discard their medal race result from their points total which means the pressure really comes on. A good medal race can snatch victory and a bad medal race can spell disaster.

On-water umpiring during the medal race ensures that there is no protest room delay following racing and sailors, media and spectators can watch the medals un-fold.
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