Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club has gained ISAF Grade 3 Status for its new international youth match-racing series, which will be held in conjunction with the Oriental Bay club's annual Line 7 regatta from February 18-22 2004.
The Wellington Harbour regatta has been granted grade three status by the world body, the highest possible for a junior event and is the first time Wellington has hosted an ISAF Graded Event.
RPNYC and Auckland's Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will supply two of the eight teams for the event, to be sailed on three-man Elliott 6 (6m) yachts. Australian clubs are expected to make up the remainder of the fleet, though there has been interest from crews from Germany, Great Britain and the United States who are to attend an Auckland regatta later in February.
Judges from Australia with Olympic Games and America's Cup experience will form the nucleus of the race management committee.
"Wellington's never run an ISAF event before so we're quite happy about it ... it means we're in the loop now instead of just Auckland,"
RPNYC chief executive Mike BOSWELL said. "It's a dip the foot in the water scenario but providing we don't stuff up, and we don't plan too, this should be an ongoing thing."
The Line 7 regatta will also incorporate the inaugural round North Island race this summer.