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4 March 2003, 11:27 am
Three National Champions Named
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New Zealand National Championships
New Zealand

Racing was completed in the combined 470, Mistral Imco and Tornado National championships at Gulf Harbour Whangaparaoa today.
With over half the 25 board fleet being overseas competitors the Mistral fleet was at a very high standard. No 1 ranked Kiwi Jon-Paul Tobin emerged as the winner but certainly did not have things all his own way. Either he or Dutch sailor Joeri Vav Dyk shared most of the first and second places in the 9 race event but an 8th in the first race was Van Dyk's undoing and gave Tobin a sufficiently large margin to become NZ National champion. Thomas Ashley from Devonport finished in a creditable 4th place and first Youth sailor.

In the womens division which was combined with the men, Natasha Sturgess (originally from Australia but now sailing for Great Britain) had a surprisingly large margin over current World champion Barabara Kendall. Kendall started the series badly being disqualified for an early start in race 1 and never recovered. Sturgess had a string of single digit results amongst the men. Third in the women's division was Allison Shreeve from Australia ahead of Bulgarian sailor Irina Konstantinova. Julie Worth and Sheena McKinnon both from New Zealand had their own battle for 4th and 5th spot.

In the 470 fleet with only one overseas entry it was Simon Cooke with his World championship partner Peter Nicholas who claimed first place having won the national title many times before. Early results reflected the fact that the pair rarely get to sail with each other because Nicholas lives in Edinburgh, but by race 4 Cooke had overcome a string of 2nds and 3rds and then had 5 first places. A close battle between two Christchurch entrants Stephen and Philip Keen and Andrew Brown and Jamie Hunt ended with the Keen brothers just 2 points ahead in second place. Top female crew were Shelley Hesson and Linda Dickson in 4th place with several male crews in their wake.

The Tornado fleet consisted of only 3 boats but that did not mean they did not have close racing. Not only were they so evenly matched that several results were close calls but they all finished with exactly the same race scores over 9 races. The rules for such circumstances state that the overall result is based on the results in the last race and so it was John Clinton who took the title from Nigel Williams, and Aaron McIntosh who recently entered the fleet from his Americas Cup duties.

Weather conditions were perfect with a mix of light to boisterous and the sailing off Gulf Harbour unaffected by strong tides or Americas Cup spectator fleets. These classes will meet again not far from these waters at Yachting New Zealand's Olympicsail out of Torbay in 2 weeks time.
Richard Brown
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