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NZ Women’s Match Racing: NZ's Willison wins title on Day 4

by Andrew Delves, RNZYS PR & Communications Manager 12 Feb 03:13 PST 12 February 2019

Celia Willison and her RNZYS Youth Training Programme NZ Women’s Match Racing Team have taken out the NZ Women’s Match Racing Championships after four days of intense match racing at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Willison started the day two-nil up against the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club team helmed by Juliet Costanzo, but it was the Australian Costanzo who started the day strong by picking up an important victory over her Kiwi opponent, keeping her teams hopes alive. The next match was an absolute beauty and potentially the best of the entire regatta, with plenty of lead changes and close racing ensuring the umpires had plenty of work to do. Willison’s vast experience sailing at the RNZYS shone through in the end though, as she went on to take a tight win and secure her finals berth.

Earlier in the morning, Allison Blecher from the California Yacht Club punched her ticket to the final after defeating two time NZ Women’s Match Racing Champion Susannah Pyatt in what was an impressive display from the Americans, setting up a NZ v USA finale.

The final was then a fairly one sided affair, with Willison and her team outclassing Blecher in the pre starts and sailing fast around the track. Blecher was no match for Willison who went on to win three races on the trot, claiming the Leith Mossman Memorial Trophy and the title of 2019 NZ Women’s Match Racing Champion.

Speaking back on dry land at the RNZYS, Willison was thrilled with her and her team’s victory –

“It feels really good, we’ve been working hard for this and we are so glad we managed to pull it off. Apologies to Juliet for the really dirty win the semi’s, we did a gybe and got a penalty but then luffed her and got a penalty on her so it cancelled out we got into the final.”

“We sailed really strongly in the final, the California girls sailed well against us but we had an advantage because we know the breeze here and we’ve sailed these boats a million times more than they have. We are just really stoked to come out on top at this event, there were some quality girls out there and winning at home feels amazing.”

“Thanks to our sponsors and supporters; Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Yachting Developments, International Yacht Paints/Akzonobel, Manson Anchors, Zhik, G J Gardner Homes, NZL Sailing Foundation and the RNZYS Youth Training Programme, as well as our superstar coach Reuben Corbett. We couldn’t have done this without them!”

The RNZYS would like to thank all of the teams who were involved in what was a superb women’s sailing event, as well as the exceptional umpires, race management, and volunteers for ensuring we saw four days of fantastic, high quality match racing.

Final Results here:

For images from the NZ Women’s Match Racing Championships follow our social media accounts:

@rnzys on Instagram or follow us on Facebook:

Results at

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