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Gold fleet head-to-head a battle of Wills

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Classic Hawkes Bay sailing conditions provided an ideal battleground for a final-day head-to-head between two standout young sailors, Wakatere Boating Club’s William Mason and Charteris Bay Yacht Club’s Will Leech.

Hosted by the Napier Sailing Club, the Toyota Optimist and Starling National Championships 2022 proved an engaging celebration of youth sailing, particularly after two years of Covid challenges.

Competing in the prestigious Open Optimist fleet, the two Wills led out separate qualifying flights – Mason with a perfect six wins from six races and Leech with four wins and two seconds from his six contests.

Will Leech won the day over Mason, the four final races proving compelling viewing for the supporter fleet. Kohimarama Yacht Club’s Oli Stone raced in for third taking two firsts from four to close the gap significantly.

A formidable girls cohort delivered four places in the top 20. Isla Barker of Murrays Bay Sailing Club placed 13th with Bella Jenkins (Kohimarama Y C) and Tessa Clinton (Wakatere B C) in 16th and 18th, respectively.


Sean Kensington of the Kohimarama Yacht Club took out the highly competitive Starling Open fleet, a mere seven points covering the net scores for the first three sailors. Marcel van der Voort, also of the Kohimarama Yacht Club, took second, with Tom Pilkington from Wakatere Boating Club in third.

Top-performing Starling girls were Nicola Hume (Wakatere B C) in 9th, Charlotte Palmer (Charteris Bay Y C) in 10th and Chloe Turner (Murrays Bay S C) in 20th overall.


The Optimist White fleet performed well in varied conditions, with Tristan Jayasuriya (Murrays Bay S C) taking first place honours, Hugh Kensington (Kohimarama Y C) in 2nd and Holly Robson (Maraetai S C) taking a closely contested 3rd.

Corban Dyer from the Murrays Bay Yacht Club placed first in the Starling Development fleet with first in the Optimist Greens going to Phoenix Clayton sailing out of French Bay YC.

The Napier location offered a rare opportunity to host the Optimist and Starling classes simultaneously and side-by-side in a single regatta, the first time in its history.


The resulting festival atmosphere proved an excellent conduit for our sport’s unique blend of competition and camaraderie.

If youth participation is a measure of the health of our sport, the New Zealand sailing community should be delighted by the growth in the impressive Optimist Open class. Ninety eight young sailors tested their skills on the racecourse, up by 22 on the 2021 event.

Two hundred and eighty-nine sailors competed across the classes - plus families, support crew and volunteers.


‘Sailing for Life’ - the theme for the Toyota Optimist and Starling National Championship 2022 - symbolises our young sailors continued pathway from Optimist to Starling and onwards to competitive adult sailing, coaching and support. The Napier Sailing Club is delighted to report the future of sailing to be in safe hands for years to come.


Full results for the Toyota Optimist and Starling National Championship 2022 can be found at

The Napier Sailing Club thanks all attendees, families, visiting clubs, volunteers, and committee members for their hard work, passion, and patience throughout the Toyota Optimist and Starling National Championships 2022 - plus the challenging lead-up.

Additionally, we are grateful for the support of an exceptional group of sponsors and supporters. We could not have navigated the last few months without their consistent support and contribution.

  • Naming Sponsor - Toyota
  • Platinum Sponsors - Mark Evans Bayleys, Mr Apple and HEB Construction
  • Partner Sponsors – Napier Port, TNL Pinder, Conroys Removals, Ericksen Marine, Sainsbury Logan Williams
  • Funding Partners – Napier City Council, Hastings District Council
  • Supporters – Burnsco, Sail One, Garmin, Anzor, Ronstan, Harken, Yachting New Zealand, The Watershed, Kiwi Yachting, Doyle, North Sails

Rob Hengst – Commodore of the Napier Sailing Club