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Toyota Optimist & Starling Nationals: Big moves on leaderboard on tricky final day

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com 19 Apr 03:18 PDT
Toyota Optimist and Starling NZ Nationals - April 2022 - Napier Sailing Club © Bruce Jenkins

Light, challenging conditions opened up the leaderboard on the final day of the combined Toyota Optimist and Starling Championships.

Overnight Optimist Open leader, Will Mason (Wakatere BC) went into the final day with a lead of a single point over Will Leech (Charteris Bay YC). It was a lead that was going to be difficult to defend, and easy to attack given that there was a useful 6pt buffer between the second and third placed competitor, Nelson Meacham (Wakatere) and 9pts back to the fourth placed Oli Stone (Kohimarama YC).

Leech (14yrs) sailed well in the light, choppy conditions to turn a very consistent four races, winning one race, and placing in the top three in the other three Final series races. Will Mason (13yrs) (Wakatere BC) placed 3rd in the first Final, dropped to 9th in the second Final, and won the third, meaning that the Open Championship would likely be determined in the Final Race with both boats tied on 9pts (allowing for the discard). In the end, Leech sailed very well under pressure to finish 3rd, behind race winner Oli Stone (14yrs) , and local sailor Jed Potbury (Napier SC) who scored a very creditable second place. Mason got nailed at the start, finishing in 13th place, and second overall, despite winning seven of the ten races in the series.

The final day of the racing was the only time the Open fleet raced as Gold and Silver fleets and the competition level increased accordingly.

Oli Stone's win in the tenth and final race in what had originally been a 12 race series, was sufficient to lift him around Nelsen Meachem (13yrs) (Wakatere BC) who was lying third on the overnight leaderboard, dropped back to fourth after turning in an 8, 4, 3 6 scorecard - with the 8th in the first Final being his discard race of the series.

The top four overall were notable for the consistency of their racing with Mason being the only one of the top four to finish out of the top 10 in their combined total of 40 races. That's a remarkable collective feat.

It was a similar story to the Optimists in the Open Starling fleet, with Kohimarama YC's Sean Kensington (15yrs) turning in a very consistent final day, scoring a win, two seconds and a 4th placing to move from third place overall, and six points in arrears to be the overall winner by a 7pt margin.

Kensington, who won the Tanner and Tauranga Cup double in the P-class in 2021, leapfrogged overnight leader Marcel van der Voort (Kohimarama YC) and local sailor Winston Liesbach (Napier SC) to win the national Starling title.

In fact the second, third and fourth placed competitors all finished the series in an unusual three-way tie on 29pts, which was broken using the standard process in favour of Marcel van der Voort (second overall), Tom Pilkington (Wakatere BC) moved from sixth to third overall, with Winston Liesebach (Napier SC) dropping from second to fourth overall.

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