Competition will be very strong at the 2018 Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championships that get underway tomorrow at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and run through until Sunday.
Eighteen teams will engage in battle for what is sure to be one of the most hotly contested national match racing events in Squadron history.
The entry list includes a solid mix of current and past RNZYS Youth Training Programme and Performance Programme Sailors, international entrants, and some past champions who are keen to throw their hats back in the ring and claim another title.
One of the headline acts is Emirates Team New Zealand sailor and 2014 NZMRC Champion Josh Junior who is a late entry into the regatta. Josh will have a pretty stellar crew on board to help him, including Olympic bronze medallist Sam Meech who was also a crew member for Andy Maloney who won the regatta last year.
Chris Steele has just returned from the M32 Championships in Chicago and is looking to win his third NZMRC title in four years after going back to back in 2015/2016, but wasn’t able to compete last year. Steele is a graduate of the RNZYS YTP and is keen to get back into some match racing on home soil “I’m definitely looking forward to being home, racing in the Elliott 7’s and trying to get my name back on that trophy again.”
The other past champion racing this week is RNZYS Sailing Director and 2009 NZMRC Champion Laurie Jury, who has also finished 3rd at this event three times. Jury hasn’t competed at this event since 2012 and is sceptical about how he is going to go “I haven’t done any match racing for long time so we will see how we go, it’s all a bit of fun.”
There is some very strong youth sailors competing this week too, including Nick Egnot-Johnson and his RNZYS PP Knots Racing team who are in hot form after recently winning the US Match Racing Grand Slam “We had a great result in the states and are feeling really confident about our match racing. It’s a tough line-up this week though so we will need to stay on our game.”
Nespresso Youth International Match Racing Champion Leonard Takahashi has just returned from his 49er campaign in Europe.
He will need to adjust to match racing quickly if he is going to be able to compete with the likes of Steele and Junior – “I had a really good 49er campaign in Europe but I am looking forward to getting back out on the water in the Elliot 7’s to take on what is shaping up to be a really competitive fleet”
Other young entrants to watch include the NZ Women’s Match Racing Team helmed by Celia Willison, Yann Rigals team from Tahiti, Jordan Stevenson (RNYZS YTP), James Wilson (RNZYS PP) and also Frankie Dair (RNZYS YTP) who won the NZMRC qualifying regatta to claim his spot in the line-up.
The Yachting Developments NZMRC is a Grade Two event and will once again follow the Fleet/Match format, with the early fleet racing to determine the seeding.
The race committee will be led by the very experienced Harold Bennett, with racing set to get underway at 10am tomorrow on the water right outside the RNZYS.