The four NZ Community Trust Yachting New Zealand regional development managers highlight some key events from their respective areas over the past fortnight - including two sets of brothers helping Auckland Grammar School claim their first National Secondary Schools Keelboat Championship title since 2015.
Brothers dominate as Grammar claims schools crown
Auckland Grammar School was crowned the winner of the 2023 National Secondary Schools Keelboat Championship at the weekend, eight years after last winning the regatta.
Their strong sibling-dominated crew of Sean and Rowan Kensington, George and Tom Pilkington and James Buckland Blair sailed consistently well and deservedly took home the trophy - despite not winning one of the four races.
The Kensington brothers are the country's leading 29er crew, winning the class at the 2023 Auckland Championships, the national championships and last month's Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta off Torbay.
Sean Kengsington, who last year received the coveted Sir Peter Blake memorial trophy, was the skipper of the Grammar team.
George and Tom Pilkington are emerging talents in the ILCA 6 and Starling classes, respectively.
George finished as the top youth boy at both the ILCA 6 national championships and the ILCA 7 event at the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta earlier this year, while Tom is currently leading the 2022-2023 North Island Starling Traveller series with five regatta wins.
Kristin School, skippered by Mattias Coutts, finished second, while Tim McCulloch helmed Macleans College to third place.
Eighteen secondary schools from as far north as Kerikeri, to Nelson in the south, descended on the Waitematā Harbour for the event - a showdown of the best keelboat racing in New Zealand secondary schools.
Ideal sailing conditions made for some tight racing and thrilling action over the three days of competition in the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s Elliott 7 yachts.
The tidal and shifty waters just off Westhaven proved a steep learning curve for the competitors, many of whom have a dinghy background and have never sailed a keelboat before.
Results from the 2023 National Secondary Schools Keelboat Championship hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron:
Gold fleet (10 boats):
1st: Auckland Grammar School (Sean Kensington) 2 2 2 2 - 8 points.
2nd: Kristin School (Mattias Coutts) 6 1 1 4 - 12 pts.
3rd: Macleans College (Tim McCulloch) 9 4 4 1 - 18 pts.
Silver fleet (8 boats)
1st: ACG Tauranga (William Poole) 3 1 1 2 - 7 pts.
2nd: Glendowie College (Ben Brewer) 2 2 6 1 - 11 pts.
3rd: Westlake Girls High (Daniella Wooldridge) 4 4 3 4 - 15 pts.
Full results here.
Women on Water Weekend wows
More than a hundred competitors - spread across different age groups and from right across the country - competed at the Women on Water Weekend hosted by Gulf Harbour Yacht Club between March 10-12.
GHYC rear commodore Diane Lindsay told Local Matters the event brought a "positive vibe" with around 120 women aged between 13 and 85 participating.
The event aimed to provide an opportunity for women of all ages to get out on the water and increase their confidence and enjoyment regardless of prior experience or expertise.
Planet X, skippered by seasoned Kiwi yachtie Karleen Dixon, took out the spinnaker division with the honours in the non-spinnaker division going to Rene Chance, helmed by Amanda Wilson.
Lindsay thanked the club's volunteers and sponsors - Evolution Sails, Auckland Yacht & Boating Association (AYBA), Bay Insurance, Burnsco Gulf Harbour, Chains Ropes & Anchors, Gulf Harbour Marina, the Telos Group, Hibiscus Marine Coatings, Live Sail Die and PredictWind.
Call for entries for women's keelboat nationals
Are you ready to sail your way to victory?
Then join the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron for the Barfoot & Thompson NZ Women’s National Keelboat Championship from April 1-2 and compete with the best female sailors in the country.
This event is a thrilling showcase of skill and teamwork, raced in the fleet of Farr MRX keelboats on Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour.
To enter, click here.
Second separate yachts after 11-hour race
Close to 30 keelboats and trailer yachts turned out for the 41st Gulf Classic Regatta, competing in four divisions over three different course lengths - yet all eyes were on the tussle between the Noelex 25s Suzie and Endurance.
The yachts finished within 1 second of each other, after 11 hours of racing in the TY 60 Division across 60nm - with a drag race to the finish in the pitch dark, seeing the host club Waikato Yacht Squadron's Suzie luff and dive to the finish line to beat Bay of Plenty Trailer Yacht Squadron's Endurance by a whisker for sixth place.
Escargot won the division overall, while Acushla (Keeler Division - 80nm) and Young Gem (TY 40 Division - 40nm) were also victorious.
More importantly, the event was a great funding exercise with $5000 raised from the Friday auction and net entry fees to help support the Mercury Bay Boating Club rebuild their clubhouse after it was damaged in Cyclone Hale in January.
Have your say on Auckland Anniversary Regatta
The Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta - the oldest sporting event in the country - has been around for 183 years. It’s seen plenty of changes in that time, evolving from its original impromptu format on the day Auckland was founded on 18 September 1840, to the diverse spectacle of sailing, power and paddle craft that it is today.
Now the regatta’s organisers would like feedback from Auckland’s sailing and boating community on how they can build on and improve the regatta for future generations.
“We do our best to put on a great regatta for everyone taking part," said the event’s executive officer Joyce Talbot, “and as part of that, we’d like to understand how people feel about the regatta and if there’s anything we could do to improve it.”
The Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta committee would really appreciate your feedback via a quick survey. All responses are anonymous.
You can take the survey here.
Roberts masterclass at WētāFest 2023
Sailors at this year's WētāFest regatta, held on March 11-12 at Torbay Sailing Club, got perfect weather and a free sailing lesson from Bryan Roberts.
Roberts won the event by 10 points after a near-faultless performance across nine races that included a mix of single and double-handed sailors from both sides of the Tasman.
Ian Sutherland finished second, with Australian Todd McVey third.
According to organisers, the regatta was sailed in "absolutely perfect conditions" with 15-20kn on the Saturday keeping competitors on their toes. Eight short races with a target time of 20 minutes saw some awesome gennaker runs - although the boat handling left much to be desired.
The breeze dropped off to between 8-12kn on the Sunday, as sailors made their way to Arkles Bay.
Full results here.
Venue change for OK Dinghy Nationals
Continued uncertainty around the interisland ferry service has seen a late change of venue for the 2023 OK Dinghy National Championships.
The regatta, which was meant to be hosted by Queen Charlotte Yacht Club in Picton , will now be held in New Plymouth next weekend (March 31-April 2).
It will join the Farr 3.7 nationals - with its growing fleet of junior sailors - and the New Plymouth Yacht Club's annual regatta on the final two days.
For more information, click here.
Big fleet expected at Hansa nationals
The 2023 Hansa Liberty National Championships will have its biggest fleet in six years.
Sailability Auckland, in association with Royal Akarana Yacht Club, will welcome 13 sailors for the event based at the Sailability Auckland base at Westhaven Marina.
It's the first time since 2017 that 13 boats will be on the start line.
Defending his title is Auckland sailor Tony Vaka, who has claimed the Liberty crown four times.
He will face tough competition from Tauranga's Paulien Chamberlain, who won the 2018 nationals and has won the Hansa 303 single-class title multiple times, and Darrell Smith from Wellington.
Smith is the current 303 single and double national champion.
One of the most inspiring sailors in the fleet is Maqymseahe Ninces - who sails her Liberty in full servo configuration (winches controlling sails and steering) with her foot.
The brightly coloured fleet will be sailing in the Bays Water area on the Waitematā Harbour from Friday (March 24) to Sunday (March 26).
The Liberty was designed in 2003 by Chris Mitchel and was adopted as a World Sailing class in 2006. There are over 130 Liberties sailing in 16 countries.
Click here for more information.
Juniors set to shine at centreboard event
Muritai Yacht Club will host the Wellington Centreboard Regatta - the region's premier dinghy sailing event - next weekend.
This event has had its ups and downs over the last three years with great turnouts at Evans Bay and Worser Bay before being a victim of Covid-19.
The Muritai club has built up a strong fleet of juniors over the last couple of years and will be looking forward to hosting the region-wide regatta with neighbouring Heretaunga Boating Club also expected to be out in full force.
The ILCA, Zephyr and Paper Tiger fleets should also see good numbers attending the regatta.
First-time entrant wins iconic endurance race
Sliver won this year's 24-Hour Endurance Yacht Race, hosted by Lowry Bay Yacht Club, at its first attempt.
The Davidson 37, skippered by Joshua Groom, sailed an outstanding race to beat eight other yachts and take the Gibson Sheat trophy for the overall winner on handicap.
Groom, who was part of the crew on Footprints which placed second in the iconic race last year, also sailed the longest distance of 104.40nm.
Sliver's crew also included the youngest entrant in the race, 14-year-old Neve Groom.
Wind conditions were very light when the fleet set off at 11am on Saturday (March 11) on a large harbour course starting from Point Howard, then to Petone foreshore, down to the Ngauranga mark, up to Shoal Pile in Evans Bay before heading around No 1 Leading Light and back through the start-finish line to complete the first lap.
It took the fleet over five hours to complete the large lap and subsequent shorter laps took around one to two hours.
Link to full results here.
Naval Point Club Lyttelton at heart of SailGP action
With over 700 members, Naval Point Club Lyttelton is Christchurch's biggest yacht club.
For a few days last week, it could have laid claim to being the centre of the foiling universe.
NPCL was the resident club of the inaugural ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix, held on March 18-19 on the spectacular Whakaraupō Harbour, and while things may not have gone entirely to plan on the water - with Peter Burling's New Zealand team pipped by the Canadians on the last day of racing - it was like clockwork off it.
The club's haul-out yard was emptied to form part of the SailGP village and the club's area was used for the SailGP Inspire Programs.
This included the RS Feva and Waszp events, with some 33 teams hosted at the club and using its coaches and equipment, while the cub's launching facilities, jetty and floaters were also used.
According to NPCL Commodore Willie Newman, the club's kitchen and bar was in full swing before, during and after racing, providing hospitality.
NPCL also hosted a function for the France SailGP team and Akaroa Yacht Club, as part of the initiative for each club in the region to "adopt" a visiting team for the duration of the event.
Almost 100 people filled the clubhouse with nibbles and drinks and six members of the French team stayed until the end, answering questions and mingling with guests.
"It was a pleasure to host the Akaroa Club and the representatives from the French team," Newman said.
"The hype that the Akaroa club created was amazing with the Eiffel Tower sitting on one of the tables and the red, white and blue banners around the club made the French ambassador from Wellington feel very welcome."
Youngster books ticket to San Francisco
Talented young Waszp sailor Noah Malpot is on his way to the SailGP in San Francisco after taking out the SailGP Inspire Waszp event over the weekend.
The 17-year-old Nelson sailor claimed the win by two points from Lucas Day, with Tim Howse a further 12 points behind.
Malpot is also a successful Opti sailor and is coached by the highly regarded Dave Shaw.
The teenager recently finished third at the 2023 Waszp National Championships held at Naval Point Club Lyttelton, won by Sam Street.
The SailGP Grand Final takes place at San Francisco Bay on May 6-7.
Pirates spotted at Pleasant Point
While the SailGP has been serious business, it's been all fun and games at Pleasant Point Yacht Club over the last few weeks.
The club - based in South New Brighton, Christchurch - hosted the South Island Firebug Championships on February 26, with 17 firebugs taking part in four colourful races on the estuary in front of the club.
It also held a Pirates and Vikings Fun Day earlier this month - the event proving a hit for many of the more social sailors (although competition for the best pirate and pirate boat was fierce!).