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2024 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland: Armit brothers unstoppable on dramatic final day

by Eduan Roos/Yachting NZ and S-W NZ 11 Feb 09:18 GMT 11 February 2024
Josh Armit (left) and Caleb Armit (right) - Oceanbridge Sail Auckland Regatta - February 2024, Torbay Sailing Club, New Zealand © Yachting New Zealand

Brothers Josh and Caleb Armit dominated proceedings at Torbay Sailing Club, winning every single race in their respective fleets to both be crowned 2024 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland champions.

The pair look set to continue the family's high level of sailing achievement. Grandfather Tony was the first New Zealander to sail around the world in the 1950s in the 28ft Marco Polo, which he started building as an 18-year-old. Father Leith, a former NZ Sailor of the Year, won four World OK Dinghy championships between 1983 and 1994 and was a top performer in the Finn class and Olympic reserve.

The third generation was in action this weekend.

Josh, 22, claimed victory in six course races in the 9m windfoil fleet after a sluggish start to the regatta on Saturday, barely 48 hours after returning from the iQFOIL world championships in Lanzarote.

He finished eight points ahead of teammate Thomas Crook, with Eli Liefting third.

The trio, and New Zealand's leading female windfoiler Veerle ten Have, had mixed results at the world champs, one of two Olympic selection trials.

"It was great fun to jump straight off the plane and get into the regatta," Josh said.

"We weren't quite sure how we would feel but it was good to get out there and great to have some really good battles with the youth fleet. We have a very strong IQ squad at the moment and we're all pushing each other to sail better and get to that next level."

Armit had a stellar 2023, collecting several top-ten finishes against the top windfoilers in the world but admits his performance in Lanzarote - where he finished 22nd among 118 competitors - fell short of expectations.

Ten Have was 21st, Crook 23rd and Liefting 29th.

"It wasn't quite the result I was after and I made too many silly mistakes throughout the event but, overall, I'm happy with how it's all going. It's a big few months ahead."

Meanwhile, Caleb Armit won back-to-back-to-back races to clinch the ILCA 7 (Laser) fleet, arguably the most tightly contested in Olympic sailing.

The 19-year-old grabbed his chance with the country's two top sailors in the class - Tom Saunders and George Gautrey - sitting out after a demanding few weeks abroad.

Caleb finished two points ahead of Dylan Forsyth and three clear of Luke Cashmore, who led after day 1 and with whom he had several close duels across the weekend.

"Conditions were quite tricky - very windy and shifty but it was good to test our skills," Caleb said.

"I wasn't really thinking too much about the results and instead just trying to do the best I could."

It's been a breakthrough season for Caleb, who also claimed the bronze at the under-21 world championships in Morocco in October for his first international success in the boat.

"It's been good but it's such a tough fleet and I know I still have a long way to go. Hopefully, in time, I can get there [the top]."

Olympic campaigner ten Have had to be at her best to secure the title in the 8m windfoil after going race-for-race with Jack Parr for much of the day.

"The last race was the best race of the day. It was a huge battle between myself, Jack and Stella [Bilger] until the last downwind," ten Have said.

"It was really fun, probably the best race I've had in New Zealand."

Louie Poletti took out the ILCA 6 (Laser Radial) competition, defeating world champion George Lane and 2023 champion Greta Pilkington following a dramatic final day.

Poletti was one of four different winners across six races.

It was even closer in the 49er competition, with Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn crowned overall winners after a strong comeback - winning three of the last four races.

They finished tied on 13 points with Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie, who they are vying against for the sole spot on the 49er start line in Paris, and won by collecting one more race win.

Jo Aleh and Molly Meech won the 49erFX fleet without dropping a race, while William Mason and Giorgio Mattiuzzo claimed the 29er title by a point from Tom Pilkington and Morgan Lay.

Madi Russell and Kate Rasmussen finished first female in the fleet and fourth overall.

Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson edged Dutch duo Laila van der Meer and Bjarne Bouwer in an exciting Nacra 17 showdown, while Cam Brown and Alex Norman defended their Oceanbridge crown in the 420, as did Derek Scott and Rebecca Hume in the mixed 470.

It's the second big title for Scott and Hume in a week, after also winning the class nationals off Takapuna. Next on their to-do list is trying to secure New Zealand a spot in the class in Paris.

Meanwhile, the Armit brothers are hoping to replicate their strong domestic results on the international stage - Caleb is off to Pollensa, Spain next month to compete in the under-21 European championships while Josh will be lining up at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma de Mallorca a few days later.

Final results and standings from the 2024 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland, hosted by Torbay Sailing Club:

420 fleet (2 boats)
1. Cam Brown/Alex Norman 1 1 1 1 1 (3RET) - 5 points
2. Zara Scott/Amelia Higson 2 2 2 2 (3DNC) 3DNC - 11 pts

470 fleet (2 boats)
1. Derek Scott/Rebecca Hume 1 (2) 1 1 1 1 - 5 pts
1. Blake McGlashan/Megan Thomson (2) 1 2 2 2 2 - 9 pts

ILCA 6 fleet (25 boats)
1. Louie Poletti 4 (13) 3 2 2 1 - 12 pts
2. George Lane (15) 1 5 1 5 2 - 14 pts
3. Winston Liesebach 1 (8) 7 3 1 4 - 16 pts

ILCA 7 fleet (4 boats)
1. Caleb Armit 1 (4) 4 1 1 1 - 8 pts
2. Dylan Forsyth (2) 2 2 2 2 2 - 10 pts
3. Luke Cashmore 3 1 1 (4) 3 3 - 11 pts

Kitefoil (3 boards)
1. Hugo Wigglesworth 1 1 - 2 pts
2. Justina Kitchen 2 4DNF - 6 pts
3. Lucy Bilger 3 4DNF - 7 pts

Windfoil 8m (9 boards)
1. Veerle ten Have 1 (10DNF) 2 1 1 2 2 1 1 - 11 pts
2. Jack Parr (10BFD) 10DNF 3 3 2 1 1 2 3 - 25 pts
3. Stella Bilger (10DNF) 6 2 3 3 3 4 2 - 26 pts

Windfoil 9m (7 boards)
1. Josh Armit (3) 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 - 9 pts
2. Thomas Crook 2 1 (8BFD) 3 2 2 2 2 3 - 17 pts
3. Eli Liefting 1 3 2 2 (8DNF) 3 4 4 2 - 21 pts

29er fleet (18 boats)
1. William Mason/Giorgio Mattiuzzo 1 3 (4) 1 1 3 2 2 - 13 pts
1. Tom Pilkington/Morgan Lay 2 1 2 (19BFD) 2 1 3 3 - 14 pts
2. Will Leech/Sean Kensington 3 4 1 (10) 3 5 1 1 - 18 pts

49er fleet (8 boats)
1. Logan Dunning Beck/Oscar Gunn 3 (4) 1 4 1 1 1 2 - 13 pts
2. Isaac McHardie/Will McKenzie 1 (3) 3 1 2 2 3 1 - 13 pts
3. Seb Menzies/George Lee Rush 2 2 5 2 5 3 (6) 4 - 23 pts

49erFX fleet (4 boats)
1. Jo Aleh/Molly Meech (1) 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 - 7 pts
2. Courtney Reynolds-Smith/Brianna Reynolds-Smith 2 2 2 2 3 2 (5DNC) 5DNC - 18 pts
3. Lizzie Shapland/Jack Simpson 3 3 4 3 2 (5DNC) 5DNC 5DNC - 25 pts

Nacra 17 fleet (3 boats)
1. Micah Wilkinson/Erica Dawson 1 1 1 (2) 2 2 1 1 - 9 pts
2. Laila van der Meer/Bjarne Bouwer (Ned) 2 2 2 1 1 1 (4DNF) 4DNC - 13 pts
3. Yuki Watanabe/Minori Ueda (Jap) 3 3 3 3 3 (4DNC) 2 2 - 19 pts

Full results here

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