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420 class: Six Kiwi 420 crews compete in Europeans and Worlds

by Michael Brown/Yachting NZ 24 Jul 21:15 PDT 25 July 2022
420 - Day 2 - Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta - Takapuna BC February 18, 2022 © Richard Gladwell /

A desire to test themselves overseas has seen a sizable contingent of young New Zealand 420 sailors head to Europe for the first time in three years.

Six crews will race in Europe, including the two who competed at the recently-completed Youth Sailing World Championships in The Hague, which illustrates the health of 420 sailing in New Zealand right now.

It's the biggest representation of any of the youth classes in 2022 as New Zealand sailors return to international competition. And on the domestic front last year's North Island championships in New Zealand attracted the largest fleet in recent memory.

"We have got a number of young sailors who are all quite ambitious and want to test themselves overseas," New Zealand 420 Class Association president Paul Sinton said. "As soon as the opportunity became available, they wanted to get overseas.

"It's a really exciting prospect. We know it's probably going to be difficult after a couple of years away but it's a really good opportunity and they're all really talented in their own right."

Three crews will compete in the 420 Junior European Championships - which are also being run alongside the 470 junior Europeans where two New Zealand crews are competing - but will get their first taste of international competition at this weekend's test event.

Cam Brown and Alex Hebberd, Vivien Webster-Chung and Kiera Sinton and Joe Leith and Josh Ferrissey are all competing in Vilamoura and they will then be joined by Napier pair Winston Liesebach and Finn Balchin at next month's 420 world championships in Hungary.

New Zealand has a proud tradition in the 420, with the likes Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, Carl Evans and Peter Burling, Alex Maloney and Bianca Barbarich-Bacher and Seb Menzies and Blake McGlashan all winning world titles.

Sinton said it was a great option for any young sailor to learn a more technical boat while experiencing quality racing at the same time.

"If you're more technically-minded and want to know about the art of sailing, then it's the boat for you," he said. "After a couple of years of that, you can decide if you want to continue down the dinghy route or go into another class because it's really good grounding for any sailing.

"What we often see if the younger sailor starting as the helm and teaming up with a more experienced crew but we also have examples, like Joe and Josh, who are good friends and just want to sail together."

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