This year is a significant one for this country’s top Olympic class sailors and many kick off their 2019 racing programmes at this weekend’s Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta.
With the Tokyo Olympics only 18 months away, the process of qualification becomes a focus later in the year.
The Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta is New Zealand's premier Olympic and youth classes regatta and more than 150 competitors will line up at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club when racing in the three-day regatta gets under way on Friday.
It will be notable for the return to competition of Olympic and four-time 49er world champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who announced last year their intention to try to win back-to-back gold in Tokyo.
“For them, the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta is a good first hitout to a busy year,” Yachting New Zealand high performance manager Ian Stewart said. “The Rio gold medallists have been training with the wider 49er squad based out of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club.
“I’m always impressed with how willing they are to work in with our developing sailors, and their engagement in the local yachting scene.
“It’s not that often that our youth sailors get to rig up alongside our Olympic guys and that’s a special feature of this weekend.”
The Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta also doubles as one of the selection events for the NZL Sailing Foundation Youth Team to compete at this year’s youth sailing world championships in Poland. The New Zealand team won a record-equalling four medals at last year’s youth worlds in the United States.
This weekend’s regatta is not only important for the sailors but also the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, given they are also hosting the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships at the end of the year. The club opened their impressive new clubrooms earlier this week and the racing this weekend will give them an opportunity to test out race courses and systems on and off the water.
New Zealand’s top 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 sailors have based themselves at the club this summer and have been joined by a handful of international teams also keen to check out the venue.
There will be a number of international crews competing at the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta, with healthy contingents from Australia, South Korea and Japan.
“For our guys, it’s the start of quite a significant year,” Stewart said. “It kicks off their season before they head to Europe and then onto the Olympic venue in Enoshima. Our sailors view this as a really purposeful training regatta.”
The Laser Radial will be the biggest fleet, with 24 entries, and there will also be a kiteboarding test event – kiteboarding was recently included on the Olympic programme for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
- Photo: 420 world champions Seb Menzies and Blake McGlashan put the finishing touches to preparations to this weekend's Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta. Credit: Yachting New Zealand.
Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta – Royal Akarana Yacht Club (February 1-3)
- Racing is scheduled to start at 11am each day
- Yachting New Zealand will provide daily media releases, including results, as well as photos and video highlights. Specific video is available on request.
- Any media wishing to obtain footage or set up interviews should contact Yachting New Zealand communications manager Michael Brown on firstname.lastname@example.org or 021 677 618.