Return to the fold

Big names and past champions are making their way to this year’s Theland NZ Open Keelboat Nationals.

12 May 2021


Eleven impressive teams are set to take it the water on the weekend of 15 May in a bid to win the 2021 Theland NZ Open Keelboat National Championship, hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS).

One early favourite is this year’s Theland Race Team, led by professional sailor and sailing analyst Chris Steele. Largely known for his commentary of the 36th America’s Cup, Steele brings a vast range of sailing experience to the competition, having previously raced in the World Match Racing Tour, Extreme Sailing Series and the GC32 Racing Tour.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back out on the water and doing some sailing with good mates,” he said on the upcoming regatta. 

“Obviously with the pandemic a lot of our international sailing has been non-existent, so I haven’t steered a boat in over eight months, albeit the last time I did it was a foiling catamaran!


“I’m sure it will be a fun weekend and I’ll really be leaning on the guys around me to try and make the boat go fast. The MRX is a fun one design class, and you can always count on close racing, it’s also looking like there will be plenty of breeze on Saturday so I’m sure there will be lots of action.”

Also expected to return is last year’s runner-up Harry Thurston with the newly minted Hotel Montreal Sailing Team, 2019 winner Nick Egnot-John and his KNOTS Racing Team as well as 2017 champion Peron Pearse.

“We are very excited to line up this weekend against some of the best talent New Zealand has to offer,” said Thurston.

“There are some great teams racing and we are very much looking forward to the challenge. We’ve got a new sponsor on board this year, Hotel Montreal in Christchurch, so hopefully we can get a good result for them!”

Additionally included in this year’s race will be Barfoot & Thompson NZ Women’s National Keelboat Championship contestants Megan Thomson and Sally Garrett – both leading all-female teams, accomplished laser sailor Thomas Saunders, RNZYS Performance Programme skipper Robbie McCutcheon, Mastercard Youth Training Programme sailor Max McLachlan, Graeme Cunningham and Peter Sumich.

Up to eight races are scheduled for the event with a maximum of five per day following the first warning signal at 9:55am.

Current forecasts suggest a strong breeze with light showers – conditions ideal for competitive racing on the Northern Leading area track, as set by Race Officer Ross Chapman.

Sponsoring this year’s regatta will be Milk New Zealand brand Theland, one of the country’s largest dairy exporters. This will be the third consecutive year that they have been the naming rights sponsor.

More information on results and race documents can be found here.

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