As was the case last winter in the America's Cup match, Auckland this winter was a mixture of too much or too little, leaving organisers at the recently held ISAF Grade 3 event struggling to complete the schedule.
But complete it they did, and in the end it was the local crews who took the event, proving the depth of talent that the club, which held the America's Cup until last year, has in it's youth teams.
Over recent years, this event has produced winners who have gone on to prove heir mettle against the World's best and most experienced match racers and offshore sailors; past winners include James SPITHILL (AUS), Cameron APPLETON (NZL) and Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES (GBR), as well as Richard SYDENHAM (GBR), and Gavin BRADY (NZL).
Teams from The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron have won the event on their own turf for the last two years, before that it was Nicolas CHARBONNIER (FRA), representing the Yacht Club Antibes who won the title in 2001. Charbonnier is now recognised as a key player in the K-Yachting America's Cup Challenge for France.
So this year the RNZYS crews, of which there were two were looking for the hat-trick, but it was not to be easy as teams from as far a-field as Japan, USA and Great Britain joined the best of the Southern hemisphere to fight for one of the most prestigious titles in the youth match racing circuit.
The first two days of racing in Auckland had to be called off. On the third, a lack of wind meant that the first round robin was still incomplete by the end of the day. This was just the calm before the next storm as more gales the next day saw racing abandoned yet again. With winds once more forecast to rise on finals day, the RNZYS grabbed a two-hour time slot in which to hold a one-race sail-off for the semi-finals and a best-of-three final.
The RYA from Great Britain (top jointly with the two RNZYS teams from the 7/9ths complete round robin with a perfect score of 7 wins-0 losses) chose to sail RNZYS Blue. In the lead on the first round of the first race, but being caught up and blanketed downwind, they then had jib sheet problems after rounding the bottom mark, which allowed the RNZYS (New Zealand) team to get past them to go on to win. This meant that the RYA had to fight it out with the CYCA (Australia) for third or fourth, who had lost to RNZYS Red, whilst there was a local derby for the title, and second place.
In the petit final the CYCA won the first race and were ahead in the second when a misjudged dip on port tack meant that the RYA team holed the CYCA boat. The damage was such that the RYA team was black flagged from the race and lost their damage deposit to boot. "We should have stayed in bed today"
said a disappointed Nick HOUCHIN.
The RNZYS Red team of Graeme SUTHERLAND, Josh PUKEY and Brett ELLIOT overcame RNZYS Blue 2-0 to win the local derby and take the trophy as winds climbed to 25 knots once more. It was Sutherland's second personal victory and the third for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron under the watchful eye of Kevin PEET.
Competitors stayed with local families and, in Auckland, were given the use of Giltrap City Toyota cars for the duration of the regatta - and all went home with rucksacks, caps and other goodies. Full flight results are available on the event website at the address below.
||Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Red
||Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Blue
||Cruising Yacht Club of Australia
||Royal Yachting Association
||Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club
||Japan Match Racing Association
||Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron
||San Francisco Yacht Club
||Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club
||Annapolis Yacht Club