Sailors and organizers are counting down to the ISAF Grade 1 Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland 2008 with racing set to start this weekend off Kohimarama Yacht Club.
The ISAF Grade 1 event, which runs over four days, will this year boast world-class fleets in the Tornado and women's Laser Radial with many internationals currently in New Zealand preparing for their respective World Championships. RS:X windsurfers, Lasers, 470s, 420s and 2.4 Metres will also compete in Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland.
Competition starts on Saturday 16 February and continues Sunday 17, Monday 18 and concludes on Tuesday 19, with the prizegiving to follow. Most sailors will launch from Kohimarama Yacht Club and racing will take place on the waters of the Waitemata Harbour.
If conditions allow, each of the fleets will sail a twelve race series over the course of the regatta the last of which is the final deciding medal race in which only the top ten placed sailors' sail.
Current confirmed entries: 34
Predicted entries: 35
Nations represented: 13
Racing in the Tornado fleet promises to be exciting with 25 of the high-speed catamarans already entered with more entries expected.
A multitude of international sailors are already in New Zealand ahead of the Tornado World Championships which start less than a week after the conclusion of Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland. For them this regatta represents a great opportunity for some lead-up competition and a taste of the on-water conditions.
Top Australian pair and world #1 crew, Darren BUNDOCK
and Glenn ASHBY
are in the starting line-up as are two-time Olympic Champions Roman HAGARA
and Hans Peter STEINACHER
of Austria. HAGARA and STEINACHER were in town in time for the Tornado National Championships where they came out on top.
Local star and former Olympic medallist in windsurfing Aaron MCINTOSH
will be one of a number of crews representing New Zealand, sailing with Mark KENNEDY
"Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland 2008 is the ideal Pre Worlds event as most competitors will be competing,"
says MCINTOSH. "This is a chance for everyone to confirm equipment, selections and complete their World Championship build up."
Laser Radial Women
Current confirmed entries: 38
Predicted entries: 60
Nations represented: 15
The Laser Radial has also attracted an unprecedented fleet with 15 nations represented including nearly all the top name sailors. New Zealand's Olympic representative for 2008 Jo ALEH
will be up against her international counter-parts with the advantage of local knowledge.
The 21 year old from West Auckland came out on top of the latest release of ISAF World Sailing Rankings
for the Laser Radial class. A highlight for ALEH in 2007 was a silver medal at the Olympic Test Event sailed in Qingdao in August.
Her main rivals also competing at Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland are Tania ELIAS CALLES
(MEX), Anna TUNNICLIFFE
(USA), Evi VAN ACKER
(BEL) and Sarah BLANCK
(AUS). With the Laser Radial World Championships on in Takapuna in mid March this regatta is a chance to warm-up and become familiar with conditions.
Strong fleets are also expected in the RS:X windsurfing with local legend Barbara KENDALL
(NZL) taking part. Organizers have 27 confirmed entries in the men's RS:X fleet and around 13 in the women's RS:X.
Singapore Airlines Sail Auckland - www.sailauckland.org.nz