Rain won't stop regattas


Only some codes in Hawke's Bay will be keeping their fingers crossed and dodging weather bullets as the country braces itself for a kitchen sponge feel this long weekend.

Those impervious to the soggy outlook include the international sailors at the Optiworlds at the Napier Sailing Club who begin their championship races from 1pm tomorrow.

"As long as we have wind, we're happy," Nathalie van Dort, in charge of media relations, said yesterday as sailors practised at the Ahuriri waterfront.

"The conditions weren't bad but there was a change in wind but that's typical of Napier," Van Dort said as they prepared for today's opening ceremony, registration and other official activities for the Optiworlds which finish on January 9.

The Hawke's Bay Rowing Club are equally confident the worst will be gone by the time their two-day 2012 Picnic Regatta, billed as a relaxed family fun day out showcasing New Zealand rowing, begins on Monday.

"If it's anything like today (yesterday) it will be going ahead," club spokesman Duncan Barr said, adding it will take storm-like conditions to call off their event which will feature the New Zealand men's eight (including Bay club members Adam Tripp and Richard Harrison) and lightweight four (including Duncan Grant) as rowers try to secure last slots to the London Olympics next year.

"We're putting up a few marquees for sun and rain, so we're generally pretty well covered," Barr said of the regatta to be held along the Clive River.

Nevertheless, like the domestic cricketers in the country for the past few days and bowls, codes such as horse racing in Hastings and speedway enthusiasts at Meeanee will be hoping for timely intervention and respite from the weather gods.

Hawke's Bay Racing general manager Jason Fleming said while the New Year's Day meeting was not a premier raceday, it beckoned many picnickers to the racecourse in Hastings.

"The forecast seems to be for occasional rain so we're hoping Hastings won't be worse than the rest of the Bay," Fleming said, adding it was in the lap of the weather gods.

"We've dodged weather bullets on New Year's Day before but this time the whole of New Zealand has been given a raw deal."

He said while people could watch what unfolded on the Hastings track tomorrow, Hawke's Bay Racing had enough indoor facilities to ensure the rain wouldn't dampen the festive spirit.

"People will be able to watch the premier [group one] racing at Ellerslie at the same time," he said. Adults will be charged a $10 entry fee but those under 18 will enter free to watch Bay favourite Starguru compete over 1200m in the $12,000 Hastings Cup Open Handicap.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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