Will Tiller and crew win the 2012 NZ Keel Boat Championships.

Anthony Leighs start - 2012 NZ National Keelboat Championships
The 2012 NZ Keel Boat Championships were run on the third & 4th March by Royal Akarana Yacht Club in the one design Farr MRX Fleet.

The fleet had talent a plenty with past winners Andrew Wills, Rod Davis from Team NZ, (with Anthony Leighs from Christchurch), and Phil Douglas, (with Pete Waters), sailing. Add to this Will Tiller’s match racing crew, Benny Butcher, a rising star from the RNZYS Youth Training Scheme, 2007 World Optimist Champion Chris Steele, Alan Quere’s crew from New Caledonia and Scott Illingworth, the current MRX Owner’s Champion, and the stage was well set for a hard fought regatta.

Unfortunately the racing was compressed when a weather bomb hit NZ on Friday night and sailing had to be abandoned on Saturday when South Westerly’s gusted to 40 to 50 knots in the race area for most of the day. Fortunately Sunday brought an ideal shifty 10 to 20 knot South Easterly breeze off the land which provided challenging racing conditions with plenty of passing opportunities in the closely matched fleet.

The Race Committee did very well getting the races away efficiently in the shifty conditions - photo Brad Davies

With just six races able to be sailed and the closeness of the fleet, there was intense competition at the starts and mark rounding’s, resulting in a number of protests needing to be resolved before the final placing’s could be settled.

Andrew Wills - 2012 NZ National Keelboat Championships
Results were evenly spread with four crews sharing the six guns. Will Tiller’s crew, however, sailed a stand out series, winning three race and never dropping below fourth place showing a unmatched ability to recover from a poor first lap to finish in the top three. South Island Young 88 Champion Anthony Leighs finished second quickly recovering from a slow start to the regatta. Andrew Wills crew sailed consistently but did not get the breaks this year to finish third.

Tight Racing - 2012 NZ National Keelboat Championships
Just six points separated the next five crews led by Alan Quere’s New Caledonian team who finished fourth in their fourth appearance in this regatta.

Judging by the enthusiasm of the sailors at the BBQ prize giving after racing, the quality of the competitors and the close racing this year should lead to a revival of importance of the NZ Keel Boat championships in NZ’s national keel boat sailing calendar.

Will was delighted with his team’s performance commenting: 'This was a good regatta for the boys to get back into the swing of things and warm up for the big year ahead starting with the Congressional Cup, a grade one match race regatta at the end of March in Long Beach, California'.

Winning Crew - 2012 NZ National Keelboat Championships

Wills crew - 2012 NZ National Keelboat Championships

2012 New Zealand National Keelboat Championship Royal Akarana Yacht Club - Results as of 15:50 on March 4, 2012 Overall - Sailed: 6, Discards: 1, To count: 5, Entries: 9, Scoring system: Appendix A
Boat #NatSkipperTeam Name R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total Nett
(No Name)1992William TillerFMJ Racing113(4)13139
Ovlov Marine / Volvo Penta2001Anthony LeighsMedium Dry(7)212352013
Touch of Gloss / International Paints1999Andrew WillsPG Racing342(7)422215
North Sails1997Alan QuereCercle Nautique Caledonien537(9)713223
Harken1991Chris Steele36 Below Racing(8)581543123
Club Marine1995Pete WatersX Racer28652(9)3223
KPMG1996Scott IllingworthOOH Racing4643(8)73224
MGE Marine2000Benny ButcherYCR6(7)56663629
Hall Spars1998Edwin DelaatEdwinSail (9)  9  9  8  9  8  52  43