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Elliott Match Racing - Plenty of Kiwis in New Caledonia this week

by Brian Haybittle on 4 Nov 2012
Elliott Match Racing Noumea, November 2012 Brian Haybittle©

Not only are there a bunch of juniors attending the New Caledonian Techno Windsurfing Nationals. 100 metres downwind of them is the New Caledonian Match Racing competition. All in lovely Baie de Sante-Marie.

It has been a feast of exciting sailing to watch. From the Pergola of the Beach Bar you can view the technical prestarts of Elliot 6s match racing to our left and to our right the speed of Bic Techno windsurfers fleet racing.

There are 7 New Caledonian teams, one Aussie team and one Kiwi team from the RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth training program. Captain Chris Steele and his crew of Jay Prestt and Stewie Dodson are being coached and mentored by Roy Dickson from the RNZYS. I won't give away Roy's age but his eyesight is still up to scratch and takes in plenty of detail according to Chris. Roy is certainly enjoying the heat and great weather. Also in attendance from NZ is Jury member John Roundtree.

So far Steele has had a commanding lead in the two round robins. Sunday sees the semi finals and finals. This is a perfect warm up for the NZ match racing nationals next weekend.


Young Techno Sailors, Patrick and Carmen Haybittle, Coral Headey and William Clough caught up with skipper Chris Steele over dinner and asked some questions and asked for some fleet management advise:

Why are you racing in Noumea?
It is a match racing grade 3 regatta. The New Caledonians invited RNZYS to send a team.

How many days long is your regatta?
Tuesday we did a fleet sail from CNC sailing club to Activity Nautique Cente (CAN). Then we had a day training on wednesday and then a four day regatta.

Do French locals know 'starboard' and 'port'?
Yes sailing is raced in english. 

What are you sailing?
Ex RNZYS Lion Youth Program Elliot 6m boats. It generally has three sailors but can race with four.


Races per day?
About 7

Have you beat the Aussies and how many times?
Yes. We won the start and they were very close. Not bad for a 40kgs heavier team.

Who is the competition?
Two teams from Noumea. Girl team are very loud up here. Lots of shouting.

How did you get into this team?
Selected on form at RNZYS.


What is your race day schedule look like?
Wake up at 7:45 am
Visit supermarche for baguettes fromage jambon etc.
8:45am skippers briefing. Race committee tell us about the days management race distances etc.
9am Roy Dickson tells us what will be important on day. Generally don't be greedy, consolidate and play the odds. Focus on basics.
9:20 onto boats rig and get out and run through prestart checks,
favored side, time start lines and lay lines and transits.
1st signal 10am on the dot. Into racing.

After each race debrief on boat. 

After races and packed up Roy goes through his extensive notes. Roy talks about positives and works on. He has a real eye for setup. Upwind and downwind trim. Also wind patterns a really calm manner and a real gentleman. Takes it very professionally.

After debrief done we have a shower and downtime for an hour then dinner.

What are your goals?
In the short term attend the NZ match racing nationals at the RNZYS. I want to take the lessons learnt here and apply there. Medium term be involved with Youth Americas Cup.

What have you enjoyed about Noumea?
Weather, heat, food great and the French atmosphere. 


Anyone you would like to thank?
Thanks Guy Pilkington and Sara tucker of the Lion Foundation Youth training program. And RNZYS. Also my 36 Below team sponsors for there help this year.

Any advise for us Bic Techno windsurfer sailors ?
Get a great start and stay in front from the start. Keep racing close. Don't tack so much as windsurfers lose lots of boat lengths in a tack. It is better to soak down and find a clear lane of wind. This way you only lose maybe 5 boat lengths instead of 20. Have fun.

Thanks Chris and all the best.

As of Saturday afternoon The Kiwi team had won all the round robins and lost one of the semi final races.

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