Press Release – Yachting New Zealand
Nearly 200 sailors from ten countries are ready to race at Oceanbridge Sail Auckland 2013 due to get underway at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club this Saturday.
The regatta entry list is longer than organizers anticipated, and star studded as anybody would expect of an Olympic and Paralympic class event of this calibre.
Although they are the only Women’s 470 sailors registered, Olympic Gold medallists Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie are faced with a competitive regatta against some internationally accomplished men in their own right. 22 year old Paul Snow Hansen who sailed to a fifth at the 2012 Olympics with Jason Saunders, is now sailing with Daniel Willcox. Paul and Daniel were teammates at the 2004 Optimist World Championships where they got second and fourth respectively.
Back again in the 470 is Carl Evans, Peter Burling’s Beijing 2008 Olympic 470 teammate. Carl, now 22 years old, is sailing with James Turner whose recent sailing accomplishments include a silver medal at the 2012 470 Junior World Championships.
Jason Saunders has left the 470 to sail a catamaran with Gemma Jones; in lieu of the new Olympic Mixed Multihull class Nacra 17’s, they will be racing the F-18 at Oceanbridge Sail Auckland. Gemma has been sailing in the Multihull for some time now, having finished 5th at the 2012 ISAF Youth World Championships in the SL16 class. Also sailing in the F-18 is Will Tiller and Shaun Mason, both of whom are part of Full Metal Jacket Racing: a New Zealand team that will be attending the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Selection Series starting on February 9th in San Fransisco.
London 2012 Olympic Laser fifth place getter Andrew Murdoch has switched disciplines too for this regatta and onward, now sailing in the one person heavy weight dinghy, the Finn.
Some things have stayed the same though; London 2012 Olympic Silver Medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke will be back for their first regatta together since the Games in August, in a bigger than ever in New Zealand 49er Fleet. The five male 49er crews will be joined on the start line by three female teams in the 49er FX.
The 49er FX is a new women’s boat on the Olympic racing scene, and it’s making its competitive debut in New Zealand at Oceanbridge Sail Auckland 2013. Kiwi sailors Alex Maloney and Molly Meech are currently ranked #1 in the world after winning back to back Sail Melbourne and Sail Sydney.
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech both have their brothers at the regatta also, they are the NZL Sailing Team’s top two Laser sailors. Andy Maloney and Sam Meech were first and second respectively at the 2013 New Zealand Laser National Championships sailed earlier this month and will be looking to top the 21 boat strong Laser fleet.
Also noteworthy, the Paralympic class SKUD 18 fleet has a unique pairing for this regatta: London 2012 Olympic Match Racing helm Stephanie Hazard will be sailing with Paralympian Tim Dempsey.
Together Tim and Stephanie will sail this boat in the J1 configuration for Oceanbridge Sail Auckland a different way than how it is sailed at the Paralympics- so that Stephanie will be out on trapeze rather than having both of them sitting in line. The boat was originally meant to be sailed in this way, as an exciting high performance boat for a disabled and non disabled person to sail it together.
“We shared the same boat storage compound for about three years” said Stephanie describing how they ended up sailing together, “So we’ve spent a lot of time chatting while waiting in the queue to crane our boats into the water.”
Tim explained: “Having her on the trapeze will really flatten the boat a lot more, and make it a lot easier for me to steer. It will also be a great learning experience for me to sail with Steph as crew because as we know she is very experienced on the helm and her feedback will be invaluable”.
Oceanbridge Sail Auckland starts on Saturday February 2nd and continues over four days of racing until Tuesday February 5th. The regatta is organised by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, and being sailed on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour in the vicinity of Bean Rock and Browns Island. Winds are expected to start the regatta with relatively calm easterlies tending north 10-15Kn and slowly building until Monday’s front may bring a southerly change with rain and winds up to 20Kn.
This regatta is made possible only thanks to contributions from principle sponsor Oceanbridge and supporters Danske Mobler, Yachting New Zealand, The Landing, Orakei Marina, and morst importantly, a team of more than sixty volunteers.