The Young 88 fleet is one of the most competitive one-design classes in the country and 16 boats will hit Auckland Harbour this weekend for the Harken Young 88 National Championships and North Sails Owners Championships combined regatta.
Raging Hormones are back to defend their title after winning the previous two events in 2018 and 2019, albeit with different skippers.
Zane Gifford helmed the boat to glory in 2018, with Andrew Wills taking the reins in 2019, but it is Gifford who is jumping back on the stick this year.
Another notable entry is Slipstream III which won in both 2016 and 2017 and will have Jed Roberts on the helm this weekend.
Slipstream III and Raging Hormones have been the success stories in this regatta in recent history, with no other boat winning the title since Jeremy Lomas helmed Flash Gordon to victory in 2014.
An experienced sailor but new to the fleet is Dangerzone owner and skipper Brad Marsh, who is looking forward to taking part in his first Young 88 National Championships.
“This is the first time I will helm a Young 88 with a full crew after owning Dangerzone for just over a year now," he said. "It will also be the first time helming a keelboat in a national championships but let's keep that a secret, otherwise everyone will be too scared to line up on the start line, and justifiably so.
“My crew have a big task to do but they are very good friends and experienced sailors. Their sailing resumes read like wizards scrolls but we have not sailed a minute together yet, so the magic formula is not perfected.
"I am looking forward to a great weekend of racing among good sailors and good friends. The boats to beat will be Mindbender and Raging Hormones and we hope that we can keep them honest as much as possible.”
Young 88 class president and War Machine skipper Mike Leyland has put a lot of work into the class over the years and, after a false start earlier this year due to Covid-19, is looking forward to seeing the reformatted event go ahead in true Young 88 style.
“Getting the nationals rescheduled from March has required compromise all round and, thanks to the sponsors, participants, RNZYS and volunteers for making take-two happen," he said. "We lost four entries from March that could not make the new date but it’s great that we have maintained a large and competitive fleet of 16.
"Like usual, we have sailors ranging from some of New Zealand’s, and the world’s best talent, seasoned Young 88 weekend warriors and a couple of crews new to the fleet. One of the great things about one-design is that, no matter where you are, there is always someone to race.
"Unfortunately, we won’t have Jim Young on the water watching his 'babies' this year, but he will definitely be there in spirit and we will be sure to raise a toast to honour his brilliant design.”
This weekend’s format is a little different to the normal, with three main race areas available for race officials to choose from depending on weather, and also includes an around-the-cans race at the end of each day back to the club.
- Photo: Rachel von Zalinski / Live Sail Die.