A fleet of five took part in the 470 class, notably Olympic gold medalists Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, and top mens crew Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox who teamed up two years ago. Three Nacra 17 crews competed with hot favourites being Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders who have had good results on the international circuit in this new Olympic class.
Willcox/Snow-Hansen lead from Aleh/Powrie
It was encouraging to have range of crew ages - in the 470 one young crew literally jumped in the boat for the first time on the morning of day one (14 year old Jono Weston and 17 year old Taylor Balogh), a little older were the YNZ Aon development crew (Sam Barnett and Zak Merton), along with a master crew (Richard and John Power) who relish a bit of stiff competition from the young ones.
In the Nacra 17 we also saw a YNZ Aon development crew, Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson, testing themselves against Jones and Saunders; while the third skipper, Tomer Simhony, was able to compete with the help of a different male crew each day (Jack Simpson and Ben Goodwin) which was appreciated as it put another boat on the start line and race track.
Jones and Saunders in the Nacra17
At the close of racing on Day One five races had been completed in a great onshore northerly which ranged from 8 - 16 knots. The king tide kept the sea state in a short chop throughout the day. Wakatere’s waters, being one of the narrower parts of the Waitemata Harbour, always magnifies tidal effects - however the wind strength helped to offset that for these races.
The usual scrap was on between 2012 Olympic 470 representative Snow-Hansen with Willcox, and Aleh with Powrie. The men had a slight edge over the women's performance on the first day and they came in with three bullets, with the remaining two going to Aleh and Powrie. In the Nacra 17 fleet Jones and Saunders had a clean sweep for the day, with 'open' crew Simhony and Simpson 2nd, and Mackay and Wilkinson 3rd.
With three races remaining it was 'all on’ for the following day.
Day 2: The final three races were sailed in a light and dying wind from the north. Snow-Hansen and Willcox won an intense battle with fellow NZL Sailing team members Aleh and Powrie in the 470 fleet. Match racing tactics began during the start sequence and continued throughout each race - marks were hit, downwind infringements took place, turns were taken and took their toll, but in the end Wakatere's infamous (king) tide had the final say in the final race which turned into a sultry drifter. Snow-Hansen and Willcox snuck in under the Narrow Neck cliffs to take a win in the last race which clinched the series with five wins in the eight race series.
In the Nacra 17 fleet Jones and Jason Saunders began the day with a healthy lead, and while the lighter breeze brought the three boat fleet closer together, their international experience was clear and they won with seven bullets out of eight.
Thanks to all those volunteers who helped to run the regatta, PRO Janet Watkins, and organisers Wakatere BC, Nacra 17 and NZ 470 Association.
Full results International 470 - http://www.wakatere.org.nz/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=594&catid=182&Itemid=252