Record youth fleet for match racing cup

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Auckland, New Zealand (February 9, 2018) – A record amount of teams from all over the world have descended on the home of the America’s Cup for the 2018 Nespresso Youth International Match Racing Cup, to be held at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on February 10-13.

This year there are 15 teams entered, making this the biggest NYIMRC ever and setting up a bumper four days of match racing in the Elliott 7’s. These teams all have a great chance of success this week which is testament to the strength of Youth Sailing today, and we can’t wait to watch the excitement unfold on the Waitemata Harbour.

RNZYS is well represented with four official teams in this year’s regatta, including Leonard Takahashi’s RNZYS Performance Programme Pacific Racing Team, Jordan Stevenson’s RNZYS Youth Training Programme (YTP) Team, James Wilson’s RNZYS YTP Team and Nick Egnot-Johnson’s RNZYS Performance Programme Team.

Leonard Takahashi is the early favourite heading into this regatta as he has the highest world ranking of #25. After winning both the Musto and Harken Youth International’s in Australia at the end of 2017, the team is riding a nice wave of form.

“Winning those two regattas in Australia was a really good confidence boost for the team but we know there are still plenty of teams who can challenge us,” said Takahashi.

This week they have a slight team change, with Tim Snedden being replaced by Takahashi’s 49er sailing partner Ibuki Koizumi, and the youngest competitor to ever compete in this event, 12 year old George Lee Rush – described by Takahashi as their “secret weapon” – has also joined the team in what will be an awesome learning experience for the young sailor from Wakatere Boating Club.

This is Takahashi’s first time helming in his home regatta, and he is very much looking forward to the challenge. “Yeah there is obviously a bit of pressure coming in with the top ranking but the whole team knows we are just here to do a yacht race and we’ve still got plenty to work on,” admits Takahashi. “We know every team coming down is coming to win so we need to treat each race like it’s the final.”

James Wilson, representing the RNZYS YTP, is also coming off some good results, notably his 2nd place finish (behind Takahashi) at the Harken Youth International at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.

Speaking of the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, they have two quality teams competing this week including Clare Costanzo’s all girl team who won the Hardy Cup in Sydney yesterday. The other RPAYC team is helmed by James Farquharson. Both teams are coached by Tom Spithill who arrived with a smile on his face after his team’s success over our RNZYS PP skipper George Anyon on Sydney Harbour yesterday. “It was a really good win for Clare! Both teams have had a few crew changes for this event but they’re both looking forward to getting into it. The RNZYS always puts on a good show!”

Another Australian all girls team have crossed the ditch from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and are helmed by Charlotte Griffin. RNZYS Race Manager Georgia Witt is happy to see a solid amount of girls in Auckland this year. “It’s great two see two all-girl teams here from Australia this week as well as an excellent representation of girls across other teams.”

Nicholas Rozenauers from Royal Sydney has returned too after an 8th place finish in 2017, another one to watch as the team will have improved with another year of racing under their belts.

The team who clocked up the most flight time to get here are the boys from the Long Beach Yacht Club in California, helmed by Trent Turigliatto. The team arrived yesterday from sunny Long Beach and were greeted by a dull rainy Auckland summer afternoon, so some adjusting might have to be made to the wet and blustery conditions we have predicted for this weekend. The LBYC are very well represented with Coach Scotty Dickson and Commodore Bill Durant having made the trip down, as well as many more support crew.

A big Bonjour to the New Caledonian team who are back for another crack at the title. Helmed by Tom Picot, this team have come a long way over the last two years, which showed with their 5th place finish in last year’s 2017 Nespresso Youth International. The team will be one to watch this week as they look to push into the semi-finals and improve on last year’s result.

John Lynch and his team from the Darwin Sailing Club represent the first time for an entry from Darwin. Closer to home, Frankie Dair (RNZYS YTP) is representing the Keri Keri Cruising Club. Frankie has shown some great talent while sailing in the RNZYS Youth Training Programme and competing in regattas over the last year – notably finishing 10th at the 2017 NZMRC and 6th at this event last year.

From windy Wellington, Lachlan Grimwade represents the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club. Lachlan is a former RNZYS YTP sailor so there will be plenty of grudge matchups for him over the course of the regatta. Catch the ferry from Wellington to Picton and you will find the Queen Charlotte Yacht Club, who are represented this year by Alastair Gifford.

Round Robin racing is set to get underway tomorrow at RNZYS from 10am with 20+ knot winds and some rain in the forecast, setting up a challenging first day of racing for the competitors. However, Race Officer Colin Lucas is hoping the wind might settle down a little bit over night. “The forecast is pretty strong for tomorrow but anything can change over-night so hopefully it settles down a bit and we get a good days racing in on Saturday.”

Source: Andrew Delves

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