New Zealand Match Racing Championships start on Thursday
Race 1 of the Telecom New Zealand Match Racing Championships 2010 gets underway at 1000 hrs on Thursday 18th November, a day later than originally scheduled. This is due in part to Emirates Team New Zealand match racing in Dubai and other skippers competing on the World Match Racing Tour. The delay however affords those competing two days of practice in the Farr MRX yachts .
Whilst last year’s winner Laurie Jury is unavailable to defend his title, five skippers return from 2009, each hoping to improve on their performance. Reuben Corbett from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) finished 2nd in 2009 and is one of the favourites hoping to have his name engraved on the New Zealand Match Racing Cup. Corbett, currently ranked 12th on the ISAF World Match Racing ranking list knows his competition will be strong. Chris Dickson (3rd in 2009), Josh Junior (5th), representing Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club and Will Tiller (6th) will all be hoping it is their name on the Cup at the end of the Championships.
Both Corbett & Tiller (ranked 34th in the world) have tasted match racing success in 2010 and no doubt their matches will be hotly contested. Corbett was first in the 2010 Sail of the White Knights, Grade 1, National Congress Palace Cup in Russia and the York Cup in Toronto, Canada whilst Tiller defended his title in the Governor’s Cup in Balboa, California and won the Warren Jones U25 Regatta in Perth.
Phil Robertson will also be providing stiff competition. Robertson (ranked 18th) won the 2010 BMW Sailing Cup World Final in Auckland as well as the Knickerbocker Cup in New York and will be eager to ensure he comes out in the top 4 at the end of the two round robins, having narrowly missed out on the semi finals when he last competed in 2008.
The other competitor returning this year is the Championship’s only female skipper, Samantha Osborne. Osborne is part of the Yachting New Zealand Womens Match Racing Olympic Squad and will be aiming to improve on her performance of 10th in 2009 and challenge the boys on the water. Osborne is sailing with a mixed crew, calling on the RNZYS Commodore Ross Masters as her pitman.
Byeongki Park from Korea is the Championships’ only international entry. Park, ranked 356th and his Korean crew, representing Geoje-si Yacht Club arrived in New Zealand on Friday and have been enjoying the City of Sails whilst overcoming jet lag. They were among the first to register today and spent the day practising in the 20 knot northerly breeze on the waters in front of the Squadron.
Skippering the Squadron’s Lion Foundation Youth Training Programme entry this year is Dan Pooley. No doubt Pooley and his young crew will be keen to beat coach Guy Pilkington who is crewing with Chris Dickson and other Youth Training Programme members.