The new Elliott season gears up from next week when the class national championship returns to the South Island for the first time in almost 20 years.
Queen Charlotte Yacht Club in Picton will host the 2023 Elliott 5.9 national championships but while most of the North-Island-based boats will be entering the event with limited lead-in sailing - and the South Island entries are fresh from the recently completed Southern Circuit - there is only one boat to beat...
Auckland's Rough & Reddy has claimed the national title for the last eight years and Craig Satterthwaite and Bart Bearda will again team up with Matt Mitchell to form a formidable team. The crew will draw on their extensive experience in the highly competitive Elliott 5.9 Traveller Series - which provides some of the best one-design sailing in the country.
Others to keep an eye on include Shapeshifter, who had a very good 2022 Traveller Series taking out a dominant regatta win at Whitianga, as well as Nevis, Slam Dunk and Zoot Allures.
The Nevis crew had an eye-catching season in last year's Traveller Series - having started the season sailing Blurr before changing to the remodelled Nevis,.
Runner-up for a number of seasons, Slam Dunk is one of the most consistent boats in the fleet while the evergreen crew on Zoot Allures know what it takes to win regattas.
Usain Boat is likely to lead the charge from the Far North while Dirty Circus has repeatedly shown themselves capable of race wins.
Shane Smith's Boat 1 earlier took out the Southern Circuit, courtesy of wins in Lyttelton and Nelson, and could be among the front of the fleet along with Eagle (Mark Howard).
Two-time South Island champions Retro could also surprise and have Luck O’Connell on board as mainsheet hand. This, coupled with some local Picton knowledge, could see them challenging.
The nationals will be held from 23-25 March. It is the first time since Waikawa in 2004 that the event will be hosted by a South Island club.
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