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NZ Optimist and Starling Nationals: Light winds challenge organisers and sailors

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World 19 Apr 01:48 BST 19 April 2022
One of the Optimist fleets gets underway on the final day - 2022 Combined Optimist and Starling NZ Championships - April 2022 - Napier Sailing Club © Wakatere Boating Club

Light winds have proved to be a challenge for regatta organisers and sailors at the Optimist and Starling Nationals being sailed over the Easter Weekend at Napier Sailing Club.

The strong easterlies which have battered Auckland and Northland for the last two days of the Easter weekend, have not progressed to Napier.

To date only six races have been sailed, with no racing possible on Monday due to the non-arrival of a sailable breeze. Five races are required to constitute a minimum series.

For Tuesday, the final day of the regatta, four races have been scheduled, meaning that all going well the regatta will consist of ten races - two short of the 12 races scheduled.

Predictwind is reporting light winds at the venue today, probably sufficient to get racing underway, if not completing the shortened 10 race series.

Today, Tuesday will see the Open Optimist fleet split into Gold and Silver fleets for the final races.

That split will pit the two top sailors, Wakatere BC's William Mason against Charteris Bay YC's Will Leech competing in the same fleet. The two sailors dominated the Qualification Round emerging with six and four race wins respectively, but with a discard race permitted they go into the final day separated by just a single point.

The two are continuing their battle from the Auckland Championships, sailed at Mason's home club, also plagued by uncooperative winds. In that series Mason emerged as the Auckland Champion by just 5pts on net (discard) score and only a single point after total points were counted. In that series both sailors while scoring consistently near the front of the fleet, also managed to stumble into double digit places, each in a couple of different races, and a transgression of that magnitude by one and not the other, on the final day, will decide the series.

As expected following the Auckland Championships, Nelson Meacham, has improved dramatically to lie closer to the top of the leaderboard going into the final day. He is third overall 6pts behind Will Leech with Oli Stone (Kohimarama YC) 3rd overall in the Auckland Championships, in fourth, 3pts begin Meacham.

Tessa Clinton (Wakatere BC) is the top female on the leaderboard, lying in 14th place. She placed 4th in the Auckland Championships.

No one club is dominating the series, with Wakatere (four sailors) Charteris Bay (two sailors), Kohimarama (two sailors), Napier and Murrays Bay SC have one sailor each in the top ten overall.

The series has attracted a big fleet with 98 Optimists in the Open fleet, 15 in the White fleet and 70 in the Green fleet.

In the Starling fleet, the results of the Auckland Championship in early February, have been turned inside out, with Marcel van der Voort (Kohimarama YC) holding a narrow 1pt lead over Winston Liesebach (Napier) with Sean Kensington (Kohimarama YC) five points back in third. Auckland Champion Tom Pilkington (Wakatere BC) who dominated the regatta winning by a 24pt margin, is back in 6th place overall, but is only 11pts adrift from the lead in what is a very tightly contested fleet.

van der Voort finished 9th overall in the Auckland Championships, with Liesebach placing 5th overall.

Unfortunately no official reports are available of either the Starling or Optimist Nationals.

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