02 June 2021
Five Australian crews will journey to New Zealand’s Murrays Bay Sailing Club this week to compete in the 2021 Barkers 29er National Championships.
The presence of Australians in this year’s Championships will mark the first time an Australian numbered sail has competed in New Zealand since the country’s international border closures following the COVID-19 pandemic – a point that has organisers excited.
“The first approach I got [from Australia] was three hours after the trans-Tasman bubble was announced,” said 29er Class Association of New Zealand President Justin Hamilton.
“They basically said, ‘We want to come, do you have a boat for us?’
“The support from Australia is awesome and they obviously see it as a really great opportunity. We have five crews coming and we would have had more if we had been able to find more boats.”
Currently, organisers of this year’s Championships have seen 39 vessels already register – a figure only six less than New Zealand total number of 29ers, according to Hamilton’s estimation.
The popularity of the competition echoes last year’s National Championships in the Bay of Islands, which attracted a record of 40 entries including Olympic 49erFX silver medallists Alex Maloney and Molly Meech, 18-foot skiff world champion Dave McDiarmid and two-time 29er youth world medallist Kate Stewart.
“It’s a fun, fast boat to sail,” Hamilton said on the 29er Class.
“It’s also a very competitive fleet and those at the top really like that. Watching this fleet, it almost feels like there’s three races in one. They are actually quite grouped up so if you’re not necessarily at the front you’re effectively racing a good group of similar people.
“The beauty of the 29er Class is that not everyone wins every race. Just because you’re first to the top mark, you’re not necessarily going to win the race so there’s a lot more variability.”
Set to sail in this weekend’s competition include defending champion Mattias Couttis, who will be sailing with Jake Pye, George Lee Rush and Josh Schon, and Brayden Hamilton and Seb Menzies.
Also expected are seven female sides, headed by Amelia Angus and Carrington Brady, Lucy Leith and Lizzie Shapland, as well as four mixed crews.
Racing is scheduled to begin Saturday, 5 June, with all 12 races expected to run over three days.
More information on entry list, Notice of Race and sailing instructions is available here.