The New Zealand RS:X National Championships will boast an impressive starting line-up when racing starts this Friday off Takapuna Beach, North Shore City.
Plenty of top international windsurfers are already in the country for the ISAF Grade W RS:X World Championships in January and will compete in this weekend's nationals as preparation.
Over 60 windsurfers are already entered and with international competitors arriving into New Zealand daily, organizers of the national championships are anticipating that around 80 windsurfers will take part. Just 20 to 30 of the expected total are New Zealanders with the majority being internationals here early for the World Championships.
Women To Watch
Local kiwi favourite Barbara KENDALL
(NZL) will sail against some old and new rivals in the women's fleet.
of Italy has a windsurfing career not unlike KENDALL's - she has three Olympic and numerous World Championship medals. SENSINI won silver at the Olympic Test Event in Qingdao in August and was in New Zealand in February this year for Sail Auckland Regatta 2007 which she won.
of Italy, #5 in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings, and Romy KINZL
of Germany, world #3, are two more strong contenders already in New Zealand who will be in the starting line up for the women's fleet of the New Zealand National Championships.
Men To Watch
In the men's fleet New Zealand's talent will be tested against windsurfers from Australia, Asia, America and Europe.
With an ISAF World Ranking of #2, Joao RODRIGUES
of Portugal will be one to watch this weekend and at January's RS:X World Championships. RODRIGUES has six top five finishes in major events in 2007 including a fourth at both the World Championships and the Olympic Test Event.
Reigning Olympic Champion, Gal FRIDMAN
of Israel is in New Zealand and is another one to watch. Shahar ZUBARI
of Israel, world #10 and Fabien HEIDEGGER
of Italy, world #17 are two more top level windsurfers already in New Zealand and competing this coming weekend.
Men and women will race separately in the regatta and racing is scheduled to start at 11:00 on Friday 14 December. Up to nine races are planned over Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the waters of the inner Hauraki Gulf off Takapuna Beach. The national titles will be decided on Sunday afternoon.
Twenty-eight days after the RS:X New Zealand National Championships, the RS:X World Championships start, and the number of windsurfers on the waters off Takapuna Beach will swell to around 200. With 120 competitors in the men's fleet and 80 in the women's, the Worlds in January promises to be a windsurfing spectacle not seen before in New Zealand.
RS:X World Championships - www.rsxclass.com/worlds2008.html