SKUD 18s on the water at Sail Auckland
Final Day Report
Sail Auckland 2013 came to a roaring conclusion today, with strong winds again pushing the sailors to their physical limits on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. All fifteen fleets sailed their final races in winds that gusted up to 30 knots.
The Liberty fleet was sent home after a single race with Russell Phillips (AUS) continuing his good form from the second day to take the race and class win. The Liberty is renowned for being a ‘dry’ boat, but not today it seems.
“I was getting drenched by waves breaking over the windward side”, said Phillips.
The SKUD 18s finished off their regatta with two races in fairly extreme conditions: 25+ knots with wind against tide.
It finally looked as though Tim Dempsey and Stephanie Hazard were going to take a race win from Genevieve Wickham and Charlie Baillie Strong, but a strong gust and a gennaker halyard cleat letting go saw Hazard off the wire and into the tide. After being picked up by a passing Finn and then a safety boat, Hazard was soon reunited with Dempsey on the SKUD.
“We just couldn’t match the speed of Genevieve and Charlie, but it has been a fantastic regatta”, said Dempsey.
“This open format is the most excitement and the fastest ride I have ever had in a SKUD. To be sailing with a talented Olympic sailor on the trapeze has been awesome, and the boat really performs when sailed this way”, he said.
“Every SKUD sailor needs to try the open format out – it is fun factor plus”, exclaimed Dempsey.
The only three competitors that won every race of the regatta were Olympian JP Tobin in the RS:X 9.5, Paralympic sailor Paul Francis won every race of the 2.4mR fleet, and Australian Genevieve Wickham with NZ Paralympic Coach Charlie Baillie Strong won every one of the SKUD 18.
Over 200 sailors from ten countries took part in Oceanbridge Sail Auckland 2013, sailed over four days in Auckland from 2-5 February 2013.
The regatta is made possible only thanks to the contributions from principle sponsor Oceanbridge and supporters Danske Mobler, Yachting New Zealand, Sport New Zealand, The Landing, Orakei Marina and most importantly, a team of more than 60 volunteers.
Day Three Report
All races were postponed today with breezes consistently exceeding 25 knots across the racing area for the SKUD 18 and Liberty fleets. Racing continues tomorrow from 11am, weather allowing.
Day Two Report
At the half way point of Oceanbridge Sail Auckland, the Royal Akarana Yacht Club is buzzing with competitors in high spirits after a weekend of great sailing conditions on the Waitemata Harbour.
Racing for the Olympic, Paralympic and other invited classes is all on track, and now that the minimum quota of races has been sailed, competitors in all fleets have been able to discard their worst score. On Sunday the wind started around 12 knots and steadily built all day, so four races were sailed for the Skiffs, Multihulls and Kiteboards while all others sailed three races.
SKUD 18 sailors Charlie Baillie Strong and Genevieve Wickham have won every race of the regatta, sailing this boat in the J1 open configuration rather than the Paralympic style that sees both competitors seated on the centreline.
London 2012 Paralympic sailor Tim Dempsey explains: “Having the crew on trapeze changes a lot, because you can sail the boat so much flatter. Having an able crew that can run about the boat makes quite a difference too.”
Tim currently lies in second place with 2012 Olympic Match Racing helm Stephanie Hazard as crew. “I reckon if we can pull it all together for the last two days we should be able to take one off them.” Tim says. “It’s been exciting sailing, and downwind is absolutely awesome surfing waves.”
In the Liberty fleet, results have been shaken up considerably with Russell Phillips (AUS) finding a bundle of speed today and yesterday’s leader, Lindsay MacGregor, having to withdraw from the regatta for health reasons.
With three straight wins today, Phillips has elevated himself to the top of the leader-board ahead of local sailors John Tool and Max Stacey. Fellow Australian Simon Brown, in his first Liberty regatta, is two points behind in fourth spot.
Racing resumes on Monday at 11:00am on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. Winds are expected to stay strong and there is a chance of rain with thunderstorms for the rest of the regatta.
Day One Report
New Zealand’s city of sails turned on its very best for the first day of Oceanbridge Sail Auckland 2013, with over 200 sailors on the water racing in 16 different divisions, in a day described as magic. North easterly breezes around 15 knots provided an ideal start to the regatta.
Sailors on the Alpha course were the first to get through three races, with New Zealand’s representative at the London 2012 in the 2.4mR, Paul Francis, winning all three of his races today. His coach, Charlie Baillie-Strong is also leading his fleet, the two-person SKUD 18, with Genevieve Wickham from Perth on the helm.
The SKUD 18s are sailing open two-person format at this regatta with the helms in centreline seats and crews on trapeze. Tim Dempsey (who also competed at the London Paralympic Games) is sailing with New Zealand’s 2012 Olympic Women’s Match Racing Skipper, Stephanie Hazard, on the wire. IACA President, Brendan Tourelle, fresh from winning the Liberty Nationals and the Kiwi Cup, is sailing with IACA Exec Officer David Staley from Melbourne.
A fleet of seven Liberties, including two Australians, are also racing with local sailor Lindsay MacGregor currently in the lead.
The regatta will conclude on Tuesday after four scheduled days of racing.