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8 January 2010, 10:45 am
New Zealanders Fill Podium At Splash Worlds
Chris Steele with the Splash World Championship Trophy
Chris Steele with the Splash World Championship Trophy and his fellow medallists

Splash World Championship 2010
Takapuna, New Zealand

New Zealand swept the board winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the Splash World Championship raced this week off Takapuna in Auckland.
Chris Steele (NZL) won the Splash World Championships, with Declan Burn (NZL) taking silver, and Ben Lutze (NZL), bronze, while Laura Hemingway (NZL) finished as the top female.

The talented 17-year old is a member of Wakatere Boating Club in Auckland's North Shore, and is in his final year of high school. This is his second World Championship title in sailing - he also won the Optimist World Championships in 2007.

"It's a great feeling, every bit as good as the first one," he says.

Beating 73 sailors from 12 countries, including European and Pacific nations, was the result of strategic, consistent sailing: Chris stayed as close as possible to the top sailors on days when the conditions were heavy and didn't suit him, and notched up mostly first and second places on the lighter days when they did suit him.

His rivalry with close friend and second placegetter Burn was a factor in his success. Burn won the Splash World Sailing Championships in 2009 when they were held in Wales, and the pair pushed each other hard on the racecourse this week. "It was a dogfight today between me and him," says Steele.

Ben Lutze from Taipa, the 2008 World Champion, took third place and the bronze medal.

Eighteen year old Laura Hemingway, representing Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club, secured the women's title, finishing 20th overall in the fleet, on 144 points. Ina K. Berensten Kullmann (NOR), on an exchange programme in Auckland, was second, on 175 points, and reigning champion Nienke Reina Jorna (NED) third on 175 points.

This is Hemingway's last regatta in the Splash Class. The law student was fourth girl when she competed in the event in 2008 in Portugal, and she was able to secure consistent top-20 results to deliver her final prize. "It's a really good feeling, you know you've excelled," she says of the victory.

New Zealand won the Nations Trophy for the second year in a row. New Zealanders have been World Champions in the class six times in the last ten years - in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009.

The silver fleet was won by Wouter Hufen (NED), with David Turney (NZL) second and Louise Maes (BEL) third.

New Zealand Splash Class President Helen McKenzie thanks all of the competitors, parents, helpers and volunteers who made the event possible.

"The last week at Takapuna Beach has been marvellous. A huge number of volunteers have made the event run smoothly and the setting and weather have been perfect for a world championship regatta."

The line up at the 2010 Splash World Sailing Championships included 73 youth sailors from 12 countries.

Full results are posted on Takapuna Boating Club's website - www.takapunaboating.org.nz.
Zoe Hawkins
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