Racing gets under way on Saturday in the Young 88 Nationals, New Zealand's biggest one design keelboat class.
The calibre of the owner drivers in the 2013 Young 88 fleet is enough to put the heat on the most seasoned professionals. Members of Emirates Team New Zealand have entered several times and prevailed over the last few years but this year the cat is amongst the pigeons and their desire for a serious one design competition has been foiled by other commitments.
There is still a very strong representation of some of New Zealand and the world’s most talented sailors including 'Volvo driver' Mike Sanderson skippering the contingent from Doyle Sails on Flash Gordon, international match racing crew Waka Racing (2nd in 2012 in World Match Race Tour) split between boats, with skipper Phil Robertson calling tactics on Flash Gordon and the rest of the Waka crew on board Undercover with ex Melges and new Y88 owner/driver Ed Massey. Youth match racing champion Chris Steele will be skippering the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme contingent on Sister Moonshine.
In amongst a myriad of sub plots we have the challenge of the generations with Chris Steele the youngest Y88 skipper up against seventy plus 'silver sailor' Mason Pepper and three generations and four members of the Pepper family aboard Young Magic including sons Michael and Hamish, a NZ Olympian and America's Cup sailor, and grandson Mahia.
Mason said 'I have owned Young Magic for six years and really enjoy the fun you get from a well-controlled one design fleet with close and competitive racing against a bunch of like-minded sailors. The boats are already very even in performance and the new crew weight rule will make them even closer.'
In the battle of the sail makers North Sails have put their resources behind their customers including Jeff Hopper’s summer sprints champion boat Raging Hormones, Auckland regatta and previous Nationals winning boat Lincoln Fraser’s Danger Zone and Bill Dalbeth’s top performing boat Waka Huia. The rapidly improving Sailor Moon skippered by Jacko van Deventer will be flying the flag for Beacon Sails and is a real threat to the podium, Norths and Doyles.
The success of the Young 88 is down to Jim Young’s fantastic design offering a fast and safe cruiser racer that was well ahead of its time. This coupled with Roger Land’s innovative marketing has seen more than one hundred and fifty boats built since the 1980s and many exported. A strong owners’ association perpetuates this success, managing an annual program of racing and social events and a tightly controlled set of one design rules. This keeps the boats on the same playing field, affordable and safe.
Owners’ association president Grant Crawford welcomed the enthusiast registrations for the event. 'We are very pleased to see entries in our grand prix event increasing at a time when these types of regattas are struggling globally. We will continue to work to ensure existing, new and potential owners have an affordable fleet of boats that can be raced competitively one week and then easily converted for cruising with the family on the weekend.'
The 2013 regatta will once again be run by an internationally qualified race management team from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron including on the water umpires to keep this very competitive fleet on the right side of the race rules.
Forecast for the weekend is for light winds mainly from the North
Racing will be held on the former Americas Cup waters north of Auckland’s extinct volcano Rangitoto Island and will start at 1000am on Saturday and Sunday 13-14 April, with a prize giving to be held at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on Sunday evening.
Follow the racing online on the RNZYS web site here including individual boats on PredictWind’s Smart Phone GPS Race Tracker tool, the event page here, class news on the Y88 Association web site and the Young 88 Facebook page
Entrants in the 2013 Harken Young 88 Nationals include:
Abracadabra - Zane Gifford
Dangerzone - Lincoln Fraser
Flash Gordon - Mike Sanderson
Heartlight - Nigel Garland
Legless - Grant Crawford
Medium Dry - Philip Rzepecky
Men @ Work - Frans de Court
Outrageous - Ross Masters
Panama Jack - Andrew Fraser
Raging Hormones - Jeff Hopper
Sailor Moon - Jacko van Deventer
Simple Minds - Bruce Scott
Sister Moonshine - Chris Steele
Skitzo - Rick Hackett
Slipstream III - Nathan Williams
Sweeny Todd - Vaughn Clark
Undercover - Edward Massey
Voodoo - Leigh Miller
Waka Huia - Bill Dalbeth
War Machine - Paul McWilliams
Young Magic - Mason Pepper
About the Young 88
The Young 88, about 8.8m (30 ft) in length and with a fractional rig, is a popular multipurpose boat that offers speed and agility for racing, with space and comfort for cruising. The first mould was built by Roger Land in the 1980s, and since then 158 have been built. Of these, 77 are still in the Auckland area, 9 in Northland, 13 in the rest of the North Island, 19 in the South Island, and 38 have been exported. There are good fleets in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Sydney.
The Young 88 class is driven in New Zealand by the Young 88 Owners Association.
by Mike Leyland
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5:55 AM Thu 11 Apr 2013GMT
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