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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

Waka Huia wins North Sails Young 88 Northern Owners Champs

by Yachting New Zealand 16 Nov 2022 02:32 PST 16 November 2022
The crew of Waka Huia winners of the 2022 North Sails Young 88 Northern Owners Championship © Bucklands Beach YC/Y88 Owners Assoc

Nick Gillies thought his chances of winning the North Sails Young 88 Northern Owners Championships had shattered along with the tiller he broke on the eve of the regatta.

The tiller came apart at Thursday night sprint racing a week out from the regatta - it was rotten after 31 years – but after Matt Smeaton put in a call for help, Robert Brooke generously agreed to build a new one which was delivered just in time to help Gillies and his crew on Waka Huia to claim his first owners title.

The owners championships is an event with a difference. As it says in the notice of race, "no calling in the rockstar helmsman here".

Gillies just edged Karyn and Dean Drummond on Flash Gordon, winning on countback in the 11-boat fleet, with War Machine third. War Machine took handicap honours.

"We're ecstatic," Gillies said. "We've had the boat for a while now and finished second a few times so to win this time around is very rewarding, and the perfect thank you to Robert."

Gillies assembled an experienced crew around him - Hayden Whitburn, Matt Stephens, Chris Blunden, Isaac McHardie, Glen Young and William McKenzie - and it was especially poignant to have Whitburn and Blunden on board given the trio had grown up sailing together in the lower South Island.

"It was special to do it with a couple of good friends," Gillies said. "It was also great to have some top young dinghy sailors on board, who were able to provide fresh input. We talked a lot about what we were going to do in the races before jumping into anything because it was so shifty out there.”

The Bucklands Beach Yacht Club managed to whip through six races in the one day of racing and also wrapped things up off the water to allow everyone to tune into the women's world cup final.

Gillies plans to keep racing over the summer, particularly with the fortnightly Thursday night sprints.

"The great thing about the Young 88 is that you can also throw on the cruising kit, so I'm looking forward to cruising with my family again over the summer before building up to the Open National Championships in March," he said.

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North Sails Performance 2023 - FOOTER