Republication of Sail-World.com's New Zealand newsletter editorial for February 6, 2014
Oceanbridge Sail Auckland concluded last Tuesday, on the outer Waitemata Harbour. Although the regatta had a useful international turn-out, its timing alongside the ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, did not help its cause.
Although the mentality that seems to exist at the top of the sport would cause one to think that is there is no ideal time slot for the regatta, with the refusal of top sailors from Europe and North America to sail in either Australia or New Zealand.
The ANZAC's don't help each other's cause much with the top Kiwis generally not sailing in the Sailing World Cup Melbourne, and the Australians, with the exception of one crew in the 49erFX returning the compliment two months later in Auckland.
Be that as it may, three current Olympic class World Champions sailed in Auckland, and perhaps not surprisingly they all won their respective events.
In the 470, sailed as an Open Mens and Womens class, the 2012 Olympic Gold medalists and 2013 World Champions, Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie eclipsed the top Mens crew of Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox. They had a good battle all regatta and it was refreshing to see the gender barriers down in lot of classes in order to build the fleets and lift the level of competition. Foreigners be damned!
Maybe in 2015, the new World Cup format will commence which will essentially require the Europeans and North Americans to venture beyond their home shores, and beyond 2016 Olympic qualification will depend on it. Those who are scored on places in World Championships will have to travel to the five stop World Cup tour, may have to come in touch with reality sooner, as the points from the five stop tour all count for the World Championship, which ranks above class Worlds.
Time will tell on this count.
One of the key strengths of New Zealand sailors over the past decade has been their willingness to travel to the competition at all levels from Optimist sailors upwards, and expect to perform well if not win. Australia while eschewing the Optimist for many years now has a very strong fleet, and these sailors can only rise to the top of their sport in years to come. Trans-Tasman competition is also on the build.
If internationally Kiwis and Australians seem now to dominate winning America's Cup crews, then what will happen in the future?
Off Takapuna Beach, the A-class catamarans are making the final preparations for their World Championships, due to start on February 10.
In the meantime, the class will be staging the A-class Nationals, due to begin today - but all racing was called off due to strong winds and the prospects, according to Predictwind.com are not that much better for tomorrow, Sunday.
Eight members of Emirates Team NZ will be competing in the Worlds, which have turned into a bit of a Science Project for the team, with a lot of kit being assembled at the Team's base in the Viaduct Harbour. It is a good opportunity for the team to work together again, with the more experienced A-class sailors working alongside the less experienced.
We have a story, images and video in this edition of Sail-World.com's newsletter.
Dean Barker, although an accomplished A-cat sailor, will be missing from the line-up at Takapuna, as he gears up for the Extreme Sailing Series in which several past and present America's Cup teams will be sailing.
Missing too, from the Extreme Sailing Series, will be Oracle Team USA, who seem to be doing little other than signing up Australians, the latest of which is their winning skipper Jimmy Spithill. So far at least three have been signed of their previous crew which contained just one US sailor.
Also in this edition is a story from official America's Cup sources in which ETNZ designer Pete Melvin updates on the rule development process for a possible new America's Cup class. It would seem that the boat will be smaller, but most outside the Oracle Team USA enclave doubt whether that alone will have much effect on costs. certainly the team numbers are expected to reduce to about eight crew. And with the number of signings of Australian crew, one wonders just what a nationality clause would look like, if one is in fact incorporated in the next Protocol.
One of New Zealand's most outstanding marine success stories, Southern Spars, is expanding and looking to engage new staff. We have a story on the openings in this edition of Sail-World.com's newsletter. For those in the marine industry or thinking about a change of career, this is a great opportunity to join an expanding and high profile company.
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