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Tom Saunders

Big field likely at Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta

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It will feel like a new era for many different reasons at February's Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta at the Wakatere Boating Club.

Not only will it be one of the first major regattas in this country after what has been a very disruptive period due to Covid-19 but it will also be the first in a new Olympic cycle.

On top of that it will act as the youth trials for the New Zealand team chosen for next year's youth sailing world championships and will also run alongside the 2022 New Zealand Windfoiling National Championships.

It means the event, which will be hosted by Wakatere from February 17-20, will feature three separate race courses for what is expected to be in excess of 200 competitors.

The Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta is this country's premier Olympic and youth classes event and regularly attracts a strong field. New Laser world champion Tom Saunders (pictured competing in the 2021 event) has it in his calendar of events, as do Olympians Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson in the Nacra 17.

"It's the big event each year for the Olympic classes," Yachting New Zealand youth and events manager Sam Mackay said. "It's also a similar format to big regattas held overseas.

"One of the really special things about it is to have the youth sailors racing alongside Olympians. It creates a really cool connection between those top sailors and up-and-comers.

"Next year's event is going to be bigger than normal, firstly as we come off the back of a tough year with Covid and secondly by combining the youth trials. That's really exciting. We're really hopeful the NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team will get the opportunity to compete at the youth worlds at The Hague in July 2022. It's going to be a great atmosphere for everyone involved."

In accordance with the Covid-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system), all competitors, coaches, volunteers, event staff, supporters and race officials will need to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and provide proof on entry.

Entries close on February 6 and no late entries will be accepted. You can find the notice of race and entry form here and volunteer registration here.

The Olympic classes will be open events, including the Laser Radial (Ilca 6), 470 and 49erFX. The boy's 420 will also be open to mixed crews.