Oceanbridge Sail Auckland 2013 came to a roaring conclusion, with strong winds again pushing the sailors to their physical limits on Auckland's Waitemata Harbour. All fifteen fleets sailed their final races on Tuesday 5 February in winds that gusted up to 30 knots.
As anticipated, the only females entered in the 470 fleet, Olympic Gold Medallists Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie won the regatta with a margin of twelve points. Paul Snow Hansen, who placed fifth in the Men's 470 at London 2012 finished the regatta in second overall (with stand-in crew Chris Dawson), tied on points with James Turner and Carl Evans. Paul and Chris won the final race of the regatta.
"We played it pretty safe downwind today,"
says Paul about the final race in which they didn't even fly their spinnaker on the last lap. "We ended up well ahead, so far ahead that we didn't have to really sail too hard… just stay up right! They all capsized and we didn't."
Paul Snow Hansen plans to campaign 470 again toward 2016 with Aucklander Dan Willcox, so sailing with Chris was a steep learning curve. "We actually hadn't sailed together since 2007. He did well and the regatta's been awesome,"
Jason Saunders, Paul's crew from London 2012, won the F18 fleet with helmsperson Gemma Jones. The new pairing won six of the ten races sailed, and were the only catamaran that made it to the start line in one piece today.
"We just made it around the course today, and were pretty happy with that,"
Jason says about their time in the tough conditions.
Gemma and Jason plan to campaign together in the new Olympic mixed multihull division: the Nacra 17. "This boat is a bit bigger and quite a bit heavier but at least it's a cat,"
Jason commented on sailing in the three boat strong F 18 fleet in absence of the Nacra in NZ. "Even though it was just three of us, it was good to get out around the track. We're looking forward to picking up our Nacra in Europe mid March."
Also sailing in a new Olympic class is Alex Maloney and Molly Meech in the girls' 49er FX skiff, a boat that was developed in New Zealand by Mackay boats. Although they too spent a bit of time wrestling to return their boat to right-way-up, they can be pleased with their record of ten race wins of eleven sailed.
Andrew Murdoch finally won a race in the Finn: the very last one of the regatta. He wound up second overall in the standings behind Josh Junior who dominated the ten boat strong fleet all regatta long. Experienced Finn campaigner Matt Coutts ranked third on the leaderboard, five points behind Murdoch.
The 49er was won by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, while second place went to their NZL Sailing Team training partners Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski. Marcus and Josh, who were jointly awarded the YNZ 2012 Singapore Airlines Young Sailor of the year award, managed to beat Peter and Blair to the finish line only once.
Markus Somerville and Jack Simpson in the 29er too had a near perfect regatta; a second place finish in one race today became the only one of the event that they didn't win. Nicholas Goyard had a similar fate in the RS:X 8.5, although his only loss was on the first day of racing. Both Nicholas, and Markus Somerville with Jack Simpson won their divisions.
The only three competitors that won every race of the regatta were Olympian JP Tobin in the RS:X 9.5, and Paralympic sailors: Paul Francis won every race of the 2.4mR fleet, and Australian Genevieve Wickham with NZ Paralympic Coach Charlie Baillie Strong won every one of the SKUD 18.
Australian Sailors also took home the trophies from both the Laser class (Ash Brunning ) and Access Liberty (Russell Phillips).
The NZL Sailing Team's Andy Maloney was hot on the tail of Ash Brunning, eventually completing the eleven race regatta just two points behind. Training partner Sam Meech of Tauranga was third.
The Laser Radial fleet was convincingly won by Andrew Mckenzie, who particularly excelled as the breeze picked up on the last two days of racing when he won every race. He had a 15 point buffer on London 2012 Olympian Sara Winther who had an unlucky OCS in the very last race of the regatta.
Andrew is a finalist in the emerging talent category for the 2013 Halberg Awards which will be awarded late next week.
The 420 division was won by Taylor Balogh and Samuel Lee, the team that led the regatta from start to finish. Olivia Mackay and Abby Goodwin also had a great regatta, never finishing a race outside the top four. The girls placed second overall ahead of Kohi boys William Linkhorn and Alex Wotton who were less consistent, but won the final race and three others.
On the final day of Kiteboard racing, Tauranga's Torrin Bright extended his lead on the fleet of 20 riders, extending his chain to six race wins in a row. Local sailor Dave Robertson sailed his discard race today, sixth in a fleet of twenty is not too shabby.
Over 200 sailors from ten countries took part in Oceanbridge Sail Auckland 2013, sailed over four days in Auckland from 2-5 February 2013.