There are still plenty of spots available for March's Harken national secondary schools championships hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
Entry is open to secondary school teams and the regatta is always well attended by schools from across the country. There are 20 team spots available for the 2020 edition of the regatta from March 6-8 and there also some Harken schools training dates available for teams to get up to speed on the boats (Feb 18, Feb 25, March 3 and March 5 - all 4pm–7pm).
The regatta is sailed in the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's fleet of Elliott 7s, which are fast and fun keelboats for sailors of all levels.
All 20 teams are split into two groups and race in a fleet racing format on the Waitemata Harbour right outside the RNZYS. After the first two days of racing, the fleet splits into gold and silver fleets based on results and then finals racing is completed on the final day.
This regatta provides a great learning experience in keelboat racing and is a solid platform for participants to move further and progress their keelboat racing skills.
Many of the teams involved go on to join the RNZYS Mastercard youth training programme, often described as the world's best youth training programme.
Past winners include Kerikeri High School, Kristin School, Westlake Boys High School, Hutt International Boys School and Selwyn College.
Two-time winner Leonard Takahashi (Kristin School) has since gone on to build a solid career in sailing.
He went on to be a graduate of the Mastercard YTP and RNZYS performance programme, has many youth match racing titles to his name and is now racing for the Japanese Sail GP and 49er teams.
“The Harken national secondary schools keelboat championship was my first real introduction to keelboat racing and it immediately got me hooked," he said. "I would recommend it to all young sailors who are interested in getting into keelboat racing. Not only is it a heap of fun but you also quickly learn a lot and immediately become keen to do more.”