New Zealand’s longest-running adult dinghy sailing national event is also among the most popular and at least 70 boats will contest the upcoming Zephyr nationals championships at the Manly Sailing Club.
The nationals, which runs from April 9-12, will be the 65th edition for the class and competing this weekend will be several former national and world champions, round the world sailors, Olympians and 'retired' America’s Cup sailors.
Greg Wright, who has won two of the last three nationals, will be back to defend the title he won in Picton last year, as will his daughter Polly who took out the female title. Five-time winner Tim Snedden (Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron) and last year's runner-up will also be there.
This year will feature the addition of a new full fibreglass version of the Des Townson designed 3.35m (11ft) Zephyr. Designed to have the same weight and sailing characteristics of the well proven three-skinned wooden Zephyrs of the 1950s, the fibreglass version is being built by the highly-acclaimed Mackay Boats.
Manly hosted the 60th Zephyr nationals in 2016, when 84 boats lined up and class president and Manly resident Matt Mitchell is delighted with the turnout again.
"Our mighty Zephyr, the biggest [adult] dinghy class in the county, is going from strength to strength and we look forward to welcoming all sailors to the tight racing and camaraderie and banter on the beach and trailer park at the end of each days' racing," he said.
The racing starts tomorrow, with nine races scheduled over four days, and competitors will be challenged if the fresh conditions forecast eventuate.
The social events, appropriately supported by ZEPHYR wines from Marlborough, are being held at the Manly Sailing Club and nearby Manly Bowling Club while the organising committee is led by former America’s Cup principal race officer and Gulf Harbour resident Harold Bennett.
Manly hope the event gives the local sailing community another lift.
"Auckland’s North Shore and Rodney regions continue to provide many of the worlds top sailors and, with many schools in the area having sailing teams and clubs providing learn to sail programmes, we hope that this will continue," Manly Zephyr sailor Paul Pearson said. "What is really satisfying is seeing families being introduced and then becoming part of the sailing families that North Shore and Rodney sailing clubs provide so well for."
- You can find out more about the Zephyr class, including a list of competitors at the 2021 nationals and previous results here.
- Photo: Brian Peet.