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Youth champs

Lockdown uncertainty sees youth champs cancelled

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Ongoing uncertainty around how long Auckland will be in lockdown has prompted Yachting New Zealand to cancel this year's New Zealand Youth Championships.

It had been hoped Auckland would have dropped to at least alert level 2 in time to stage the four-day regatta at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club on October 3-6. But the extension to the current level 4 lockdown and uncertainty around the next few weeks has seen organisers make the difficult decision to cancel the youth championships. 

Yachting New Zealand have joined a number of other countries in already deciding against sending a team to December's Youth Sailing World Championships in Oman but a New Zealand team was still going to be selected from the youth champs, as happened in 2020. That plan will now need to be shelved as well.

"We are gutted for all New Zealand's youth sailors who were looking forward to being able to benchmark themselves against the best in the country but hopefully we can still have a great summer of sailing," Yachting New Zealand talent development manager Geoff Woolley said. "The uncertainty around the end of Auckland's lockdown and a compressed end of year with NCEA exams were the major factors leading to the decision.

"We are equally disappointed not to be able to recognise a New Zealand youth sailing team in 2021 and we empathise with those who have now missed the opportunity to attend a youth worlds. However, we are confident there will still be many training opportunities in New Zealand in the form of our strong youth and senior squads and a busy domestic racing circuit."

Yachting New Zealand intend hosting a Christmas regatta on December 18-20 for all youth classes except the 420s, who will be attending their North Island Championships in New Plymouth. The Christmas regatta will be in Auckland with the venue to be announced soon and the aim is to make this event three days of well-run racing with prizes on the line to finish the year off on a high.

Woolley hoped the calendar would return to something closer to normal in 2022, which would see the Aon National Youth Clinics run uninterrupted alongside a handful of national regattas.

There are also high hopes of sending an NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team to the 2022 Youth Sailing World Championships at The Hague, the Netherlands, in July. 

"We are excited to announce our intention for the trial for the 2022 NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team as part of a four-day Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta at the Wakatere Boating Club on February 17-20," Woolley said. "We hope this team get the opportunity to race at the youth worlds and get back to racing on the international stage."