Things are starting to heat up in Auckland in the final build-up to 2014 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland with racing set to get underway this Saturday, 1st February on the Waitemata.
The locals are on the water training, the internationals are touching down and out of town competitors are arriving for New Zealand’s premier regatta for Olympic, Paralympic and Invited Classes.
With the NZL Sailing Team at the top of their game, notably the three reigning world champions, an increasing number of internationals are including the regatta in their programme and coming to Auckland for the quality of racing on offer.
For New Zealand’s youth sailors targeting selection into the 2014 NZL Yachting Trust Youth Team, results at this regatta are crucial if they want to earn a place in the national team.
The scene is set for an exciting edition of Oceanbridge Sail Auckland in 2014.
NZL Sailing Team’s Natalia Kosinska is likely to be among the front runners in the RS:X 8.5 fleet which features New Zealand’s female Olympic campaigners and male youth riders all racing together.
New Caledonia national Nicol Goyard is in Auckland for the regatta and may prove hard to beat if strong winds prevail. Goyard, and Australian female campaigner Joanna Stirling, have been on the water training with the kiwi windsurfers to prepare for 2014 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland in the lead-up.
Youth riders Xanthe Bowater from Christchurch and Alex Hart from Tauranga, who both produced some notable results at international regattas during 2013 are in the fleet which also features Murrays Bay Sailing Club siblings Patrick and Carmen Haybittle.
In the Olympic men’s division – the RS:X 9.5 – Jon-Paul Tobin will be hard to beat. Kiwis Tony McKenzie and Luke Holliday, as well as Korean rider Su Whan Lee will be giving it their best shot.
One of the most exciting spectacles of 2013 was the sight of the kite-board racing fleet and the kites are back for more in 2014.
In December last year they contested their first-ever National title in the relatively new discipline and it was Torrin Bright who came out on top. With many of the same riders hitting the water again this weekend Bright, who placed 10th the 2013 Kiteboard Racing World Championships, will be looking to secure a double victory.
Hot on his tail will be Raglan rider Matt Taggart who placed second at the December Nationals, as well as Brad Walker, Craig Roberts and local female Justina Sellers.
The double-handers: 470, 420 and 29er (Click here for a preview article on the 49er and 49erFX)
Headlining the double-handed 470 is class act Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, Olympic gold medallists, reigning world champions and winners of 2013 ISAF Rolex World Female Sailor of the Year. Both these two started sailing on these waters and it’s a treat for all involved in Oceanbridge Sail Auckland, from aspiring youngsters through to volunteer helpers, to sail against, alongside and observe these role model kiwis doing what they do best.
Visiting Japanese female crew Ai Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka will provide the competition.
In the Men’s 470 2012 Olympian Paul Snow-Hansen, now sailing with Daniel Willcox, will have to fend off the challenge of fellow kiwis James Turner and Luke Stevenson as well as Korean entry Cheul Yoon and Se In Yoon.
Excellent fleets will be sailing in both the youth double-handed classes – the 420 (a youth pre-curser to the Olympic 470 classes) and the 29er skiff (a youth pre-curser to the Olympic 49er and 49erFX classes). New Zealand’s top youth sailors must attend this regatta in order to be considered for selection into the 2014 NZL Yachting Trust Youth Team which will represent New Zealand at the ISAF Youth World Championships in July in Portugal.
Despite being team-mates on the NZL Sailing Team, the on-water rivalry comes to the fore for Finn sailors Andrew Murdoch (Kerikeri Cruising Club) and Josh Junior (Worser Bay Boating Club) when they go racing, each ultimately looking to assert themselves as New Zealand’s best in the Olympic heavy-weight dinghy.
2014 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland provides their first domestic match-up for the year with the 2014 Finn National Championships on the following weekend at the Maraetai Sailing Club. Karl Purdie, Robb Coutts, Ray Hall and Spaniard Santiago Reyero are also among the starting line-up.
Laser Radial (Click here! for a pre-view article on the Laser class)
Featuring perhaps the broadest spectrum of entries in terms of age and gender is the Laser Radial fleet with female Olympic class campaigners like Sara Winther and Susannah Pyatt going up against the best youth male and female sailors in the class as well as masters like Scott Leith and Michael Keeton. With over 30 Laser Radials entered racing is guaranteed to be tight in this class.
Making its Olympic debut at the 2016 Rio Games, this is the first time that Oceanbridge Sail Auckland has a Nacra 17 fleet as part of the line-up. The catamaran is sailed by one male and one female crew and the NZL Sailing Team partnership of Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders are the boat to beat after recording an impressive ninth place finish at the 2013 Nacra 17 World Championships.
The Invited Classes
The star-studded OK Dinghy fleet is back for more at 2014 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland and boasts the largest fleet. 1992 Olympic medallist and Emirates Team New Zealand Coach, Rod Davis couldn’t resist the temptation, nor could Polly Powrie’s Dad, Sefton and Josh Porebski’s Dad, Joe. Seven Flying 15s will race as well.
Regatta organisers are delighted to see the Paralympic and Hansa classes continuing to increase in popularity with entry numbers improving year upon year. A pre-view of these classes will be out tomorrow.
To follow the action head to sailauckland.org.nz - the up-to-the-minute website features a social media feed where competitors, supporters and volunteers posts using sailakl on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will paint a real-time picture of what’s happening on the water.
About 2014 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland
Oceanbridge Sail Auckland 2014 will take place at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club from the first – 4th February 2014.
The NZL Sailing Team are anticipated to feature strongly in what is the biggest Olympic and Paralympic class regatta in New Zealand, and alongside them will be New Zealand’s top developing youth sailors and keen competitors in a range of invited classes such as the OK Dinghy and A-Class catamaran.
All Olympic and Paralympic class boats are invited to take part: The Laser, Laser Radial, Finn, 470 Men, 470 Women, 49er, 49er FX, RS:X 8.5, RS:X 9.5, Nacra 17, Skud 18, 2.4mR and also other classes are encouraged: the OK Dinghy, 29er, 420, Liberty, Hansa 303, Kiteboards, F18 and A Class Catamaran.
Over four days of racing 11-15 races will take place for each fleet, and the format for all classes will be fleet racing with no medal race. All racing will take place in the Waitemata Harbour, in the surrounds of Rangitoto Island, North Head, Mechanics Bay and Browns Island.
Oceanbridge Sail Auckland is made possible only thanks to the contributions from principle sponsor Oceanbridge, and supporters: Sport New Zealand, Yachting New Zealand, Royal Akarana Yacht Club, Danske Mobler, The Landing and Orakei Marina. Equally important is a team of more than 50 volunteers that are behind the success of this regatta every year.
by Jodie Bakewell-White
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12:15 PM Thu 30 Jan 2014GMT
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