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Sail-World NZ: June 27 - Strong performance by young Kiwis at Moth Worlds.. SailGP win .. Cup latest

by Richard 27 Jun 2023 10:08 BST 27 June 2023
Jacob Pye (NZL) - Day 5 of the Wetsuit Outlet and Zhik International Moth World Championship 2023 © Mark Jardine / IMCAUK

Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for June 27, 2023

On a number of fronts it has been a few good weeks for sailing in New Zealand, and for a while the spotlight turns away from the America's Cup.

For those following our "Cup Spy" series compiled from the AC37 Joint Recon program, the format of the reports will change, now that the teams have to sail from Barcelona for the next four months, rather than being scattered in five locations around the world, and across multiple time zones.

While the America's Cup might not currently be centre stage, it is an important backdrop to view the current events and successes.

The main two successes have been the win by Live Ocean, the NZ SailGP team, in the first SailGP USA event in Chicago last weekend (17- 18 June). The other was the performance of four "junior" Kiwi sailors at the UK Open and then the Int Moth Worlds at Weymouth.

The NZSailGP team led by Peter Burling were consistent, if not spectacular - making sure they didn't lose the regatta on the opening day, building a points buffer that ensured they should make the final, and on Day 2 defended for the first two races and then attacked in the Final.

The fact that racing was even possible on the final day was remarkable - a tribute to the changes made by SailGP with the addition of a 29metre rig - enabling the TV broadcast to get underway on time and deliver three races within the time slot. While they might not have been foiling, they were moving at a few knots. It does take a bit of mental adjustment - but once you've got your head around the fact that small increase in windspeed can result in a doubling of boatspeed - the racing takes on a new dimension.

To purists that sort of differential looks to pay an overly generous reward - but talk to the sailors and they accept that it is part of the foiling game.

It will be interesting to see how this season of SailGP plays out - there were a lot of top sailors down the back of the fleet. Is that a litmus test on what we will see in the 2024 America's Cup? Or can these sailors press reset, and recover their form?

There have been 12 entries made in the Youth and Womens America's Cup - that is six into the Challenger/Defender side of the draw, and six on the Invited Teams side. Interestingly the feedback from the Invited Teams is that this is their America's Cup, and is maybe a pathway through to the Main Event in a future Cup.

Of course making the entry is one thing, finding the talent is another. We're not really in a position to judge the situation in other countries, but the message seems to have got through to the teenage sailors in New Zealand - that if they have longer term aspirations in the professional side of the sport - then they need to get some competitive racing in foiling classes on their CV, and also in apparent wind sailing - be that in skiffs, windfoilers or catamarans. Five of the ten Olympic events at Paris2024 will be contested in foiling classes.

Although not an Olympic sailing event, the International Moth Worlds are regarded as the premier foiling single handed monohull sailing event in the world - Olympic included. The class brings together an amalgam of skills in technical understanding, agility, balance and all the usual racing technical abilities. In recent years its entry lists have read like a "Who's Who" of the foiling sailing world. It is not a coincidence that the last eight world champions in the class have also been Olympic Gold medalists.

While New Zealand, and the top half of the North Island especially, has copped a string of gales and cyclones in the "summer" just gone. The 2023 Moth Worlds had five days of light English weather, with the world championship not being awarded due to an insufficient numbers of races being sailed.

The 2023 Worlds were sailed in Weymouth, England - the 2012 Olympic Sailing venue. The next one is at Manly beach in December 2024. Manly sailor, Jacob Pye (17yrs) won both the races he sailed in the Worlds, but it was possible to only give the 128 boat fleet two races each - well short of the minimum of four required to be sailed to constitute a proper world championship. Four young New Zealand sailors finished in the top 14 overall at Weymouth in the Worlds. All four were classified as Junior sailors!

Both regattas were very good for New Zealand builder Mackay Boats with seven boats in the top ten overall, including the first two overall in the Worlds.

In the earlier UK Nationals, which did get enough breeze to constitute a series, Jacob Pye also won the Open UK title, by just one point from a Olympic Gold medalist Tom Burton (AUS) in a five race series sailed over just two days, by the 92 boat fleet. As a preview for the Worlds, the same four young New Zealand sailors finished in the top 12 overall.

During one of the many breaks in racing at Weymouth, Sail-World UK's Mark Jardine moderated a session between seven competitors from four countries on their experiences breaking into the foiling scene, and their advice for others - regardless of gender - seeking to do the same. You can see a video of that discussion

The takeaway from this regatta, is that New Zealand would appear to have another talent wave emerging, with some excellent results.

It will be interesting how many of this group get taken into the squad for the Youth America's Cup - with a couple of exceptions it would be hard to find young sailors with a better set of credentials. However there is a lower age limit for the Youth AC of 18yrs by December 1, 2023. It seems crazy that a sailor could have the skills to place where these four have in the Moth Worlds and UK Championships, and yet not make a lower age limit for the Youth America's Cup.

The last time we had a talent wave that delivered on its early results was back in 2006-2008, with Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Andy Maloney, Josh Junior, Jo Aleh, Polly Powrie, Mike Snow-Hansen, Dan Willcox, Thomas Ashley and several others. That group went on to win several Olympic medals, as well as forming the nucleus of two winning America's Cup campaigns.

The lesson is that young talent has to be backed, and early in their career, and given challenging opportunities that require a big step up. Although it is always a nervous watch - but almost always they usually prove more than equal to the task.

Back in the late 70's and early 80's Rick Dodson was part of a similar group, sailing in the 1977 OK Worlds at Takapuna at the age of 18 (finishing 15th) and won his next worlds two years later in Norway. Also coming through in that group was Russell Coutts, who won the Youth Worlds in 1981, at 20 years on his third attempt, John Cutler, Leslie Egnot and others. Two places behind Dodson in the 1977 OK Worlds was David Barnes, who along with Hamish Willcox won three World 470 titles, and went on to be a backup helmsman in the 1986/87 America's Cup in Fremantle and skippered the "Big Boat" in the 1988 America's Cup, and was tactician for Rod Davis in the 1992 America's Cup for then New Zealand Challenge.

Rick Dodson took a similar but different route to Barnes, and was part of the winning crew in the 1995 and 2000 America's Cups.

But in one of life's strange turns, both America's Cup sailors were diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) within months of each other, and were bought together to form a crew to contest the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. Many in the Paralympic scene complained that it was unfair to have two sailors of this calibre competing in the Paralympics.

Long story short is that David's condition deteriorated more rapidly than Rick's, and he took the hard decision to step off the sailing crew for the Paralympics, and Rick moved back in the boat to take over the helm. The New Zealand team finished fourth in at Rio 2016, losing the Bronze medal on a countback to the Canadian crew skippered by Paralympic veteran Paul Tingley (CAN). In a gesture after the medal ceremony, Tingley presented Dodson with their Bronze medal mascot in recognition of the fact that the two crews tied on points in the Sonar keelboat.

Sadly Barnes succumbed to MS, four years after the Rio Paralympics.

Top New Zealand author and sailing journalist, Rebecca Hayter has taken on the challenging task of writing and publishing Rick Dodson's biography. It covers a rich sailing career, that includes America's Cup wins, two World Championships in the OK Dinghy class, being a crew member on the top placed yacht in the 1981 Admirals Cup - then the unofficial world championship of offshore racing, skippering the winning the 1988 One Ton Cup in San Francisco - all while owning and managing the North Sails loft in Auckland during a period of extreme growth, and by sailing in regattas with North Sails NZ's customers established its reputation as one of the worlds premier sail lofts.

Rebecca Hayter has authored several books, and was the highly regarded editor of NZ Boating magazine. Her previous book, 'Wild Seas to Greenland' which tells the story of a voyage she undertook in conjunction with round the world race winner, Ross Field - stopping only when the icebergs became too numerous, and the predicted melt in the North West Passage had not occurred to the extent forecast.

The book is remarkable for the way she interspersed contrasted 2017 expedition with the first of her father Adrian's single handed voyages from England to New Zealand in a 32ft gaff rigged yawl in 1950-56, and a second in a 26ft Folkboat in 1961-62.

The book is also notable as a primer for preparation for an extreme voyage of this type where Ross Field's foresight, seamanship and experience either prevented serious issues before they occurred, or circumvented them on the rare occasion when a serious problem arose.

In 'Storms Ahead – Rick Dodson: America’s Cup champion to Paralympian', Rebecca Hayter tells the story from Dodson's recollections, along with those of his sailing colleagues who are from the top echelons of the sport. From the excerpt published here we can see that this is a unique story from several perspectives, not just for the fortunes of Rick Dodson and David Barnes, and their bravery, but also the rise through the ranks of one of New Zealand's top sailors and marine industry figures. It also offers an insight into how top sailing teams are run - a different recital from the polished prose that is so often delivered for the record.

Storms Ahead – Rick Dodson: America’s Cup strategist to Paralympian, by Rebecca Hayter is available from Oceanspirit Publishing, 220pp, 60 colour photos, RRP NZ$39.95 plus postage. Available from in print and e-book editions from 6 July 2023.

Co-incidentally with the launch of double World OK Champion's biography, the 2023 World OK Dinghy Championships have just got underway in Lyme Regis, England. The event has attracted a fantastic fleet of 143 entries - just one shy of the all-time record worlds entry for the class. As international sailing gets back on its feet, the OK Dinghy story is not uncommon. It is similar to the recent Moth Worlds - also held in England - illustrating the popularity and strength of international dinghy class sailing, outside the politics and rapid status changes of Olympic sailing.

In this edition, we have the reports of the Moth UK Championships and Worlds along with the Practice Race and Day 1 of the 2023 OK Worlds.

Between newsletters, you can follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on or by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world, see the top stories below and check daily on our website

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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