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Team Racing: America's Cup champions compete in Team Racing Nationals

by Yachting New Zealand 29 May 2020 21:17 PDT 30 May 2020
420's Team Racing © Michael Brown, Yachting New Zealand

Blair Tuke will head back to his roots when he sails at this weekend's New Zealand Open Teams Racing National Championships in Kerikeri but fully expects to get "dusted up" by some of this country's best young talent.

Tuke spent much of his youth sailing teams racing, and even participated at the 2011 teams racing world championships in Perth, but hasn't had time to do much of it in recent years.

It also hasn't helped that he's too big. Teams racing is done in 420s, which is the youth version of the 470, with an optimum combined weight in the double-handed dinghy of about 130kg.

Tuke will sail with his brother Jesse in a Kerikeri team that also contains fellow Olympic class sailor and Emirates Team New Zealand teammate Andy Maloney and ocean racer Brad Farrand.

It's just one team stacked full of named sailors, and the likes of Peter Burling, Sam Meech, Alex Maloney, Molly Meech, Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson, who have all been named in the New Zealand team to sail at the Tokyo Olympics, will also compete in the three-day regatta.

Finn world champion and Emirates Team New Zealand grinder Josh Junior will also take part and has taken a novel approach to selecting his teammate.

"I'm taking Nelsen Meacham up, who's an Opti sailor who's been going pretty well and is the son of an old boy at Emirates Team New Zealand," Junior said. "The total crew weight was meant to be about 130kg and with me weighing 100kg I needed someone pretty small. I'm pretty excited to sail with him.

"He's been sending me some videos of teams racing because I haven't done much, so he's been schooling me up. He might be the tactician, I think."

Tuke played a leading hand in rounding up all of the NZL Sailing Team members taking part. All have returned to the water recently after lockdown but all face uncertain futures as they contemplate a largely domestic-based buildup to next year's Tokyo Olympics.

"An old mate of mine I used to sail with, Reuben Corbett, sent a message to say the open teams racing nationals were on and, considering we are in New Zealand and not getting a heap of racing in at the moment I thought it would be a pretty cool idea to do it with a few mates of mine from Kerikeri," Tuke said. "I then sent a message around the rest of the Olympic team to see who was keen and basically everyone said they were.

"We are all keen to try to get as much experience as we can racing at the moment and to learn. There’s definitely a feeling of missing out on the racing [because of Covid-19]. For some people it’s going to be new but for half of us, especially those of us from Kerikeri, this is where we started sailing. Teams racing was quite a big thing early on. There’s a sense of fun and getting back to where it all started."

Teams racing is popular at secondary school level and features a team of three boats taking on another team of three boats in short, five-minute races with the lowest combined score winning. It's incredibly tactical with a lot of the action often happening at the back of the race track as teams try to work themselves into a winning score.

There are a number of experienced teams racing sailors among the 14 teams taking part, including last year's champions headed by Corbett's Kiwis Team Racing, as well as a team containing some of this country's best young talent.

Seb Menzies and Blake McGlashan are former 420 world champions and also won the boy's 420 at last year's youth sailing world championships and they're joined by this country's top 420 combination right now in Mason Mulcahy and Andre van Dam.

"We are going to turn up and get dusted by some young kids, basically," Tuke laughed. "We are all a little bit big and the weather is looking quite light but I’m really looking forward to it. I’m sailing with my little brother Jesse, so that will be pretty cool, but I think we are going to have our work cut out being in 420s and being about 10-15kgs too heavy. It’s all part of the fun.

"It will be cool to spend some time racing against some of the top youth guys and girls and also reconnecting with all the teams racing sailors who have put a lot into that side of the sport."

2020 NZ Open Teams Racing Nationals at the Kerikeri Cruising Club May 30-June 1:

Inlet: Blair Tuke, Jesse Tuke, Andy Maloney, Noah Malpot, Brad Farrand, Rhys Nichols
Bow Down: Chris Geerkens, Alice Calnan, Ollie Gilmour, Cody Coughland, Hamish Elliott, Grace Calnan
Thievery: Josh Edmonds, Kaitlyn Turner, Thomas Elmore, Logan Williams, Jamie Catchpole, Celia Balemi
Boobs to the Back: Patrick Harris, Alice Taylor, Nikolas Black, Phoebe Andrew, Sam Brierly, Carter Stringer
Insert Name: Liam Holroyd, Haydn Smith, Ben Alabaster, Robbie Hopkins, Matthew Smith, Kieran Ruffel
NZLST1: Peter Burling, Erica Dawson, Paul Snow-Hansen, Molly Meech, Alex Maloney, Jake Stanley-Harris
NZLST2: Sam Meech, Dan Willcox, Josh Junior, Nelsen Meacham, Micah Wilkinson, Jack Honey
Reach Arounds: Shae Donahoe, Andi Hawtin, Petrina Sheldon, Henry Upton, Stephanie Hazard, Charlotte Moss
Kiwi Caterpillars: Graeme Sutherland, Lucinda Nacif, Stuart Goodes, Davina Goodes, Logan Sutherland, Jordelle Simpkin
TBC: Seb Menzies, Blake McGlashan, Tom Mulcahy, Cam McGlashan, Mason Mulcahy, Andre Van Dam
Murrays Bay: Tim Sneddon, Joe Leith, Zak Merton, Jasper Camenzind, Connor Corgard, Lucas Day
Socially Buoyant: Nathan Laurie, Alex Jones, Angus Adamson, Deven Warden, Erik Thomas, Kelly Main
RNZYS: Jordan Stevenson, George Angus, Jack Bunce, Zoe Dawson, Alastair Gifford, Ed Caisley
Kiwis Team Racing: Frankie Dair, Maeve White, Dylan Whichman, Emilie Jones, Reuben Corbett, Sean Herbert.

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