The 2003 ISAF Team Racing World Championships was opened on Saturday evening after ISAF Vice President accepted the challenge laid before him during a local Maori welcome. The Haka was performed at the Opening Ceremony by students from the Auckland High School. Geoff Thorpe, the President of Yachting New Zealand welcomed all the teams on to the stage where flags were presented to represent all the participating nations. The Mayor of Auckland joined the Opening Ceremony throwing down the gauntlet to teams to wrest the Team Racing World title from the 1999 and 2001 holders, New Zealand. Sunday saw the first racing day and blue sky's and 10 knots of breeze from the SW show cased Auckland's claim as the city of sails. The three flights of boats took to the water by 9am and by the end of the day race 71 had been completed. Spectators have been enthralled by the close racing as well as a number of distractions including, Maori longboats charging past the course and both Team New Zealand and Alinghi, venturing out into the Hauraki Gulf to practice for the Americas Cup match. As the day progressed the cream started to rise to the top of the results board though a number of fancied teams had their difficulties. The USA2 team lead by Tim Fallon, twice Silver Medallists, in 1999 and 2001 shot out of the blocks and ended with a 9-9 tally, beating both GBR1 and GBR2 as well as IRL1 on the way. The defending champions, harnessing the power of the Murdoch family finished up with a 6-7 score, losing to USA1 but dispatching GBR2, NED and AUS1 in the process. Steady and wily, the CZE team built on recent experience to finish a good day in the office with a 7-9 score and IRL1 battled throughout the day to take home a 7-9 day as well.
It was a long day too for the Umpire Team, lead by Chris Atkins. The light weather saw the Umpires laying down the law on Rule 42 (kinetics) and refining competitors views on other rules matters both on the water and during the post race Umpire debriefings.
PRO Richard Brown declared himself happy with the day. There were a few hiccups in the schedule but they were quickly rectified and the Race Management Team pressed on so by the end of the day 12 races an hour felt like an easy target.
A big first day helped send the event on its way and with a forecast of 10 knots from the SW though maybe partially cloudy tomorrow has the potential to see the competition through the first stage, which comprises of a Full (16 Team) Round Robin and a 6 Team Repechage to decide the Gold and Silver Leagues. Updates as they happen will be posted to the event website, though most people in the Northern Hemisphere will still be tucked up in bed during the thick of the action.