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5 February 2003, 12:53 pm
Top Sailors Prepare for Grade 2 Event
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Sail Auckland

New Zealand's top sailors are preparing to take part in Sail Auckland, New Zealand's most prestigious dinghy regatta, and as an ISAF Grade 2 event, is the only International ranking regatta held in New Zealand.
Yachting New Zealand's High Performance Manager, Peter Lester deems the regatta as "one of the most important events in Yachting New Zealand's Olympic calendar". The fact that ISAF ranking will be a determining factor for the selection of Yachting New Zealand's Olympic classes for entries to Cadiz, Spain, coupled with the regatta being a compulsory Yachting New Zealand ranking regatta will ensure that New Zealand Olympic hopefuls are competing.

The regatta is part of the renowned Sail Down Under series, and involves a variety of classes including the Optimist, 29er, 49er, 470, 420, Laser, Laser Radial, Europe, Finn, Mistral Imco, Hobie 16, and Tornado.

Hot competition is expected in both men's and women's mistral board fleets. Jon-Paul Tobin (who has recently placed 13th in 2002 Worlds, and 1st in Sail Melbourne), will be up against fellow NZL boardsailor Thomas Ashley (10th in 2002 Worlds, and 2nd Sail Melbourne). Both Tobin and Ashley are in top form and with James Well's returning from a serious back injury the trio should provide tough competition for the international competitors.

Current World Champ Barbara Kendall who won gold at Sail Melbourne last month will be competing in the regatta. Top Australian boardsailor, Jessica Crisp is expected to compete, with her 3rd place finish at Sail Melbourne she will be looking for another top 3 finish.

Organisers are expecting a large number of New Zealand entries in the Laser class, including Andrew Murdoch who was placed 6th at Sail Melbourne and who is currently competing in the ISAF World Team Racing Championships in Auckland. They will be up against Australian's, Brendan Casey (defending Sail Auckland Champion, 8th Sail Melbourne) and Michael Blackburn who was 3rd in 2000 Olympics.

Andrew Brown and Jamie Hunt and the Keen Brothers (Stephen and Philip) who finished 3rd and 4th respectively at Sail Melbourne are all entered in the double handed 470 class. Shelley Hesson and Linda Dickson will be competing in the women's fleet, after returning with a bronze from Sail Melbourne last month.
Yachting New Zealand/ISAF News Editor
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