Sail-World New Zealand: March 6, 2014 - Focus on Sydney

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 06 Mar 2014

Sail-World New Zealand: March 6, 2014 - Focus on Sydney

Team Australia Lines up against Oracle team USA - Sydney - Thursday, March 6, 2014  © Andrea Francolini Photography
Welcome to's New Zealand newsletter for March 6, 2014

Sydney Harbour is the focus of world sailing attention at present, with the launch of Team Australia's AC45, and as the JJ Giltinan Trophy seems close to being decided.

Today, Val Oatley, performed the christening honours on Hamilton Island Yacht Club's AC45 - which marks the Challenger of Record's first foray into the America's Cup. We carry the story, video and images of the event and the team's first sail.

Having had their sailing ranks pillaged by teams competing in the 34th America's Cup, Team Australia, as the HIYC team is known, has had to start from scratch – drawing in a range of talent, mainly from Olympic classes and 18ft skiff ranks.

It is a big of an experiment, but there aren't too many options, after the Australians who sailed for other teams decided to stay put - offshore.

Val Oatley - Team Australia launch - Sydney - Thursday, March 6, 2014  © Andrea Francolini Photography

Today Matt Belcher, and Olympic Gold Medalist in the 470 class was named as helmsman for the tune up series against Defender, Oracle Team USA. He will oppose compatriot and Gold medalist in the Laser class at the 2012 Olympics, Tom Slingsby 9AUS)

The series will give the Australians their first taste of wingsailed catamaran sailing, and even though the next America's Cup is three and a half years away, given their lack of America's Cup experience in the sailing team, Team Australia will need all the practice they can get.

Time will tell if the Aussies can step up the mark and go head to head with the teams returning from the 34th America's Cup.

Team Australia launch - Sydney - Thursday, March 6, 2014  © Andrea Francolini Photography

Already Luna Rossa are back in the harness, with a new base being built in Italy and a major sponsorship renewal has been announced for the Italians – who learned the lesson of being a late starter in the 2013 America's Cup.

The other head turning event on Sydney Harbour is the JJ Giltinan Trophy for 18ft skiffs.

The question now is whether the defending champion Gotta Love It 7 can win another title – making it six on the trot for skipper Seve Jarvin, or whether one of the other top boats can get between her and the most prized trophy in 18ft skiff sailing.

Sydney City Marine battles with her big rig - JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship 2014  Australian 18 Footers League ©

With a 12th placing on her scorecard, Gotta Love It 7 cannot take risks, and knows that the standard in the top half of the fleet is very high indeed. It is just not possible to get clear air, and blast through to the head of the fleet.

In this edition of's newsletter we feature all the replays from the last two day's racing, including interviews ashore with the top crews of the day.

In an extended video today, 18fter TV commentator, Mark Heeley, talks with two of the iconic sailors of the class – who are dueling it out for the Masters Trophy.

There's some great lines in there as Howie Hamlin (USA) and John Winning (AUS) swap their views of 18ft skiff careers that span decades.

C-Tech and 7 side by side down the first run - JJ Giltinan 18ft Skiff Championship 2014  Australian 18 Footers League ©

Winning quipped that in previous times you would be upset to finish outside the top five, but that doesn't apply in the class now. Even a top half of the fleet finish is regarded as a fairly good result – as you know that behind you there were the boats who were in the top finishers the previous day.

This regatta has a very high quality fleet with 34 boats from six countries competing – most of whom have had a sniff of the front of the fleet action at least once so far in the regatta.

Essentially anyone can pull one out of the bag – including the top two boats today, who admitted that they only got the favoured shift just after the start of today's race, by virtue of the fact that another competitor tacked close underneath forcing them to tack away and pick up the glamour wind shift which got them into the very top at the first mark – and that was virtually the race.

The leaders on the second run to obelisk - JJ Giltinan Championship 2014, Race 5  Australian 18 Footers League ©

We are covering the JJ's live on Sail-World. The feed goes up just before the race start time – which will be 6.00pm NZT on Saturday and 5.00pm on Sunday.

Check out how the New Zealand sailors fare – with C-Tech and Yamaha having taken a first and second in Race 4.

Yamaha repeated the stunt again today, coming in with a very good angle on the finish line to take fourth place as the top end of the fleet played roulette in the final 100 metres of the race.

Wingsail up - Team Australia launch - Sydney - Thursday, March 6, 2014  © Andrea Francolini Photography
Stay tuned.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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