New Zealand’s City of Sails turned on its very best for the first day of Oceanbridge Sail Auckland 2013, with over 200 sailors on the water racing in 16 different divisions.
Auckland turned on a magic day with a fresh warm seabreeze and blue skies.
There are some familiar names clear ahead on the leader board, despite their 'rusty' return to Olympic Class sailing.
London 2012 Olympic Gold Medallists Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie carded three race wins in the five boat mixed fleet of 470’s, and Paul Snow Hansen with temporary crew Chris Dawson followed in second overall.
'It was really fun to be back racing', Jo said of her day on the water. 'We were definitely a bit rusty and were a sailed a bit average at the beginning. The whole fleet got better as the day got on.'
'The wind was pretty good from the east all day, but there was big waves and lumpy choppy water' she says about the race course between Rangitoto and Browns Island. 'We don’t usually sail out that way.'
The NZL Sailing Team’s 2012 Silver Medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke also made a commanding return to sailing together; they too lined up a row of one’s next to their names in the men’s 49er division. Training partners Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski followed behind with a second place finish in every race.
The Women’s 49er FX (same hull as the men’s 49er but with smaller sails) saw a similar situation, with the Auckland North Shore duo of Alex Maloney and Molly Meech winning all four races. The girls’ good start to this regatta comes after winning the December 2012 Sail Melbourne ISAF World Cup regatta and Sail Sydney.
NZL Sailing Team ex Laser sailor Josh Junior won every race on Day 1 of the four day regatta in the mens singlehanded Finn class. Double Olympic representative in the Mens Laser, Andrew Murdoch made his Finn class debut with two second place finishes, but he was over the start line too early in the third race, and carries an 11 point penalty.
Australia carried the day in the Mens Laser class ahead of Kiwis Andy Maloney, Thomas Saunders, and Sam Meech who are pushing the top of the Laser fleet. After the first three races in the Laser full rig, Australian sailor Ash Brunning leads the fleet, just one point ahead of Maloney.
Board sailor JP Tobin is back on the race course with a vengeance, using this regatta in preparation for the RS:X World Championships which start at the end of this month in Buzios, Brazil. Natalia Kosinska will also be going to these World Championships, she is currently placed second in the RS:X 8.5 after this first day of racing.
2013 Halberg Award Emerging Talent finalist Andrew McKenzie is showing his world class talent, leading the Laser Radial fleet with London 2012 Olympic Laser Radial sailor Sara Winther just one point behind. The Laser Radial is a unique class at this event as it is being sailed by youth, women, and men of all ages.
Competition is also hot in the youth 29er fleet, although 2013 National Champions Markus Sommerville and Jack Simpson from Wakatere Boating Club are clear ahead after four wins; the pressure is on for second, third and fourth place getters with just four points between them.
In the two day OK Dinghy regatta, Ben Morrison and Paul Rhodes have an early tie on five points each from three races. 2013 National Champion Russell Wood is four points off the pace with one more day of racing left.
Sailors on the Paralympic course were the first to get through three races, with London 2012 2.4mR representative Paul Francis winning all three of his races today. His coach, Charlie Baillie Strong is also leading his fleet: the two person SKUD 18 Paralympic keelboat with Genevieve Wickham of Australia.
The Kiteboarders were the lucky last on the water on Saturday afternoon, having sailed four races from Kohimarama Beach. This is the first time that Kiteboard Racing has been part of Oceanbridge Sail Auckland, and it’s proving popular.
Local board sailing coach Dave Robertson takes the early regatta lead just one point ahead of Tauranga’s Torrin Bright. Dave was New Zealand’s top finisher at the 2012 Kiteboard Racing World Championships where he finished ninth.
This regatta is made possible only thanks to the contributions from principal sponsor Oceanbridge and supporters Danske Mobler, Yachting New Zealand, Sport New Zealand The Landing, Orakei Marina and most importantly, a team of more than 60 volunteers.
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