Yachting: Warm start to Sail Auckland regatta

Alex Maloney and Molly Meech in action in the 49ERFX Women's race. Photo / Getty Images
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech in action in the 49ERFX Women's race. Photo / Getty Images

2016 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland got underway today off the Murrays Bay Sailing Club on Auckland's North Shore with New Zealand's top youth sailors and invited classes sharing the boat-park and beach with the NZL Sailing Team's Olympic and Paralympic campaigners.

It was a hot Auckland day and the light airs kept sailors ashore until the sea breeze built enough to get racing underway in the afternoon and lasting into the evening.

At Oceanbridge Sail Auckland, New Zealand's premier Olympic, Paralympic and Invited classes regatta, men, women, and youth are often pitted against each other and a strong contingent of visiting international sailors joined in on the day one action.

All fleets scheduled to race on Thursday managed between two and four races and with points on the board the early leaders have been revealed.

In the 49er class two Aon Fast Track Squad crews Logan Dunning Beck and Jack Simpson, and Isaac McHardie and Trent Rippey are locked on nine points after close racing.

In the 49erFX standings Alex Maloney and Molly Meech lead.

Alex Maloney, helm of the NZL Sailing Team 49erFX crew, represents the Murrays Bay Sailing Club, and while she regularly competes at international venues around the world, today she enjoyed being back on home waters.

"It's great sailing back off Murrays Bay and seeing all the junior club members. It brings back old memories," she says.

Maloney went on to describe the day; "Today was good, we had a bit of waiting onshore under postponement and then we got out for four solid but long races with the 49er and FX fleet. It was reasonably steady, but a few shifts kept us on our toes."

Maloney enjoyed sharing the race track with the men in the 49er; "Both Erica and Ellie, and Molly and I were mixing it up with the boys and it was close racing and hopefully we can try and beat a few more boys tomorrow because they got us on the line in most of the races."

"The speed in under six knots is pretty similar," explains Maloney describing the performance differences between the women's FX rig and the men's rig. "But once they [the men] start to get powered up they have a bit of a speed edge, and once it's really windy it's pretty similar speed."

Rick Dodson, Andrew May and Chris Sharp went up against John Weston and his crew in the three person Paralympic boat, the Sonar sailing three races on day one. Dodson and his men took all three races to lead.

The top three Laser men sees three different nations represented with Sam Meech, from the NZL Sailing Team, the best performer. He leads from Jianan Wu of China, with Australia's Mitchell Kennedy currently holding 3rd on equal points with Murray's Bay local Andy Maloney.

In the Laser Radial the women, men and youth divisions are racing together with Susannah Pyatt topping the overall leader-board for the fleet after the first day. Two youth sailors round out the top three standings with Alistair Gifford in 2nd and George Gautrey in 3rd overall. In the Nacra multihull division Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders (NZL Sailing Team) are racing against Olivia Mackay and Micah Wilkinson (Aon Fast Track Squad). On Thursday they sailed four races, each crew taking two wins apiece, so they start Friday on equal points.

Points are tight in the 420 racing with Jonathon Weston and Taylor Balogh , from Wakatere Boating Club, coming out of day one with a one point lead and Xanthe Copeland and Karensa Jennings the best placed girl's crew lying third overall.

In the 15-strong 29er fleet Jackson Keon and Tom Fyffe dominated on day one with a couple of race wins and a healthy five point lead. Emma French and Saffron Nixon are the best placed girls crew in sixth place. Both Keon and Fyffe, and French and Nixon know these waters well - they're Murrays Bay Sailing Club sailors.

Friday's forecast is for similar light wind and sunny conditions with plenty more action expected to unfold on the Hauraki Gulf.

- NZ Herald

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