Racing got underway as scheduled at Torbay Sailing Club today for the all important Olympic Nomination trials. The heat is on New Zealand's Olympic campaigners hoping to secure the Yachting New Zealand nomination to the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
The Europe and Laser classes opened the regatta, completing their two races before lunch in an oscillating South to South Easterly breeze of 9 - 12 knots. These conditions suited the class favourite, Sarah MACKY and she finished the two back-to-back races with a comfortable lead on the rest of the fleet.
As expected racing was competitive in the Laser class. Andrew MURDOCH of Kerikeri Cruising Club is in the lead after two races with a first and fourth. Dan SLATER pulled off the performance of the day in this class, after finishing ninth in race one he overtook the leaders in the final stages of the second to finish in first place overall which sees him move up to fifth on the leader board. With only one point separating first and third places, there is no clear leader in this class at this early stage of the regatta.
The men's Mistral and men's and women's 470 classes got underway at 1pm as scheduled, in tricky light to moderate winds not unlike what is expected at Athens. Bucklands Beach Yacht Club's James WELLS is leading the 7 competitor fleet finishing his two races with a third and first. Tom ASHLEY trails by only one point establishing himself in second place overall with a second and third, while Jon-Paul TOBIN, ranked first in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, and the top NZL finisher at Athens is in third place. David ROBERTSON from Kohimarama Yacht Club was the notable performer of the day in this fleet, dominating race one to establish a clear win over the favoured, more experienced Ashley, Wells and Tobin. The youngster represented New Zealand at the 2003 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship and forms part of Yachting New Zealand's Youth Development squad.
After two races there is a tie for the top spot in the 470 class, with Andrew BROWN and Jamie HUNT and Stephen and Philip KEEN both scoring a first and third placing which sees them both on four points. Brown comments, "the conditions were difficult out there, we managed to stay in the breeze and have a good one, we were glad to get the first day out of the way".
Former World Champion skipper Simon COOKE is the next to feature in the standings, while Peter NICHOLAS his former crew now teamed with Matt DAVIES are in seventh place overall. Stephen KEEN spoke for everyone with the comment, "we'll take every race as it comes, one race at a time".
Melinda HENSHAW and Jan SHEARER are the top women's crew, holding their own against the men in this combined fleet, they rounded one of the earlier marks in the second race in third place, they are currently holding fifth place while the other women's crew of Shelley HESSON and Linda DICKSON are eighth.
Full results are available from the yachting New Zealand website at the address below.
Racing continues at 10.00am tomorrow, the Mistral and 470 classes will begin the day's racing and the Laser and Europe's scheduled to begin their second round of races at 1.00pm.