1996 NZL Laser Class Olympic representative and current Laser Class National title holder, Hamish PEPPER, has won the Yachting New Zealand Olympic Nomination trials with a race to spare.
Pepper finished race ten in second place, with his closest rival Andrew Murdoch placing seventh which ensured Pepper had enough of a point differential to not have to compete in the last race of the day. Breathing a sigh of relief in the boat park, Pepper said, "I'm definitely happy with my result I didn't expect to win with a race to spare, I am pleased with my performance".
Pepper's worst result was a fourth over the ten races sailed in varying conditions, which demonstrates that all important consistency of performance needed to win regattas.
Twenty-one year old Andrew MURDOCH from Kerikeri won the last race of the series, which secured his second placing on 28 points, a comfortable 18 points ahead of third placed Nik Burfoot.
Europe sailor Sarah MACKY placed second in race ten, which also gave her an insurmountable lead on the rest of the fleet with one race remaining in the series. Macky's younger sister Jane, got the better of her today to finish ahead of her in race ten and take the bullet, but there is no sibling rivalry there, Sarah comments, "I looked under my boom and saw her sneaking through and thought oh that's okay, good for her".
This will be the twenty-four year old's second Olympics competing in the Europe dinghy, she placed 9th at Sydney in 2000. Even with the overall winner decided, racing continued on for the rest of the fleet to determine second and third place. It was another successful one for the younger sailors, with 2003 Yachting New Zealand Youth Team Member, Jo ALEH taking the bullet, followed by Jane MACKY, then Sara WINTHER who finished in second place overall, nine points ahead of Miranda POWRIE in third.
It was a very long day for all the sailors today, with races being abandoned in the shifty, unsteady breeze and long delays between races waiting for the afternoon sea-breeze to take hold. The 470 and men's Mistral classes faced the longest delays, after an initial postponement the first and final 470 race was abandoned. Just when it looked like the remainder of the racing would be rescheduled for tomorrow a 6 - 8 knot south-westerly breeze filled the bay just after 6.00pm, and it was all go. The 470 race was restarted and the board sailors abandoned their beach cricket and headed out onto the race course.
Christchurch duo Andrew BROWN and Jamie HUNT clinched not only the last 470 race but the trial, topping the leader board with nineteen points. With close racing throughout the regatta in this class it was fitting that there was a tie for second, with Stephen and Philip KEEN sharing twenty-two points with Simon COOKE and Alastair GAIR.
The women's 470 was hotly contested, leading into the final race both crews were on equal points which meant it all came down to the last race. Melinda HENSHAW and Jan SHEARER finished in sixth place, while Shelley HESSON and Linda DICKSON trailed in eighth after a closely fought race. This was enough for Henshaw and Shearer to secure the win.
The men's Mistral was also fought to the end. With Ashley and Wells on equal points leading into the final race the pressure was on. Current IMCO Youth World Champion, 19 year old Devonport sailor Tom Ashley was the eventual winner of the trial, a mere one point ahead of James Wells, with Jon-Paul Tobin a further four points behind.
From here the selection process is for the winners of each class to be considered by the Yachting New Zealand selection panel of Terry Nicholas, Glen Sowry and Grant Beck. The ultimate decision lies with the selectors, they can either directly forward the nomination to the New Zealand Olympic Committee or ask the sailor to prove they are capable of finishing in the top ten at the Games, by reviewing their performance at a series of world class European regattas in the coming months.
Full results are available on the Yachting New Zealand Website at the address below,