A late entry from France now means 19 crews from 10 countries will battle it out for championship glory at the IFDS World Blind Sailing Championships in Rotorua from 13 to 21 March.
France joins teams from Norway, Finland, Italy, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, Australia, United States of America and the defending world champions, New Zealand.
With the yachting spectacle now less than one month away, organising committee chairman Don McGowan says it is shaping up to be a wonderful event – both on and off the water.
'The lake is a fantastic venue from a racing point of view with its consistent winds, and it’s also great for spectators who can watch the action from the shore,' Mr McGowan said.
'I know the sailors and their all important supporters will enjoy the combination of some great sailing action and Rotorua’s tourist attractions, events and geothermal wonderland.'
In blind sailing each boat has a crew of four people – two blind and two sighted people. There are three classifications – B1 (totally blind), B2 (can see light and dark) and B3 (vision impaired eg. tunnel vision). The boat is skippered by a blind person and the sighted crew members essentially perform support roles such as the tactician role.
The eight B1 crews, six B2 crews and five B3 crews will sail Noelex 25s which are being provided by private owners. The yachts will be weighed to ensure they fit with the weight requirements and will be fitted with new sails to ensure a level contest for competitors.
'We are grateful to the many volunteers and supporters who are all playing a role in the event and showcasing the sport of blind sailing and the Rotorua region to the world,' Mr McGowan said.
The 2009 World Blind Sailing Championships are supportedby Bay Trust, Rotorua District Council, Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, New Zealand Community Trustand SPARC.
For more information, check out www.2009worldblindsailingnz.com