The 2012 Opti Nationals in New Plymouth was an outstanding success for the Wakatere sailors who attended. We had a young group of 24 sailors – 19 sailing in Open fleet and 5 in the Green fleet, out of an Open fleet of 165 sailors (including 18 Overseas sailors) and a Green fleet of 46.
New Plymouth is an exposed sailing venue, so whatever the conditions, there is no hiding from them! We were fortunate enough to have almost all conditions from flat calm to 3m swells and 30 knots, which is ideal for chosing a National Champion.
The New Plymouth Yacht Club offered us wonderful hospitality, and WBC was well set up on the reserve next door to the club with a large rigging tent courtesy of Team New Zealand, as well as gear tents, Daily BBQ, Chilli Bin for end of day refreshments with room for the daily debriefs with coaches Charlie and Briar.
Wakatere had two Teams in the teams racing, as well as a composite Wakatere/Sandspit team. Teams racing is fun as you are racing as a group and it provides the sailors with a great opportunity to learn the racing rules and understanding of race strategy on a small, specifically designed course. This one-day event took place on Easter Friday in perfect, light conditions, which are ideal for teams racing. Wakatere 1, with Airi Kawana, Kate Stewart, Aidan Nicholas, Jono Weston and James Grover-Grey placed third overall after some great battles with the other clubs during the day, whilst the Wakatere 2 team learnt a bunch from their day of Teams racing, ready for their next encounter. The Teams racing was won by the Murrays Bay 1 team.
During the main event we had a full range of conditions, which reflected in our sailors individual race results. It was great to see Wakatere take the top spots in the 12 year olds, with Jono Weston top, in 33rd overall , and James Grover Grey second in 45th overall.
Kate Stewart showed awesome grit to sail with her broken arm still in a cast, and whilst she led several races to the top mark, it turns out that bailing in strong winds with an arm in a cast is not easy, and that affected her final placing, but she still finished with an outstanding 40th overall.
Aidan Nicholas was the top finisher of the Wakatere group, in 30th overall, and Airi Kawana was close behind in 32nd.
Leonard Takahashi-Fry from Murrays Bay won the event, convincingly, for a second time, showing his experience and skills in all conditions.
This was the first year where the fleet was split into Gold, Silver and Bronze fleets in the last couple of days, which seemed to work really well; resulting in closer racing in each fleet, and a chance for sailors to shine in their group. It also made it easier for Gerald and his race management team to keep racing the Gold fleet whilst allowing the Bronze group to return to the beach when the conditions were adverse.
So it was great then to see Xanthe Copeland come second in the Silver fleet, and outstanding result given her size (small and light!).
A number of our other sailors recorded some great results and improvements from last years Nationals. It was impressive to see how well our sailors coped with the conditions, finishing races and making the most of the long days, which reflects the hours put in by them on the water over summer. Celia Willison was a great example, finishing all of the races, even whilst sea sick during several of them!
Across on the Green fleet course, Grierson Fox sailed really well to finish in 4th, whilst relative newcomer Finn Buckeridge came in 9th, with Charlotte Probert first girl in 13th. Again, all of these sailors finished all of the races, some of which were held in challenging conditions.
All in all, another great Nationals for the crew at WBC – thanks to the Coaches, Charlie and Briar, who did a sterling job to look after so many sailors, and helping them to improve and aspire to do better. Thanks too to the Parents, particularly Peter Grey, who managed the logistics, as well as the trailer towers, boat drivers, refuellers, Opti launchers and retrievers, BBQ crew...many hands make light work.
A few highlights....the Seal Colony at the breakwater, the visiting Marlin, the Umpire boat that flipped on the course, the fast reaches in big waves, WBC Beach touch rugby, Briar’s sailor bribes, Charlies jokes, The NPYC commodore’s opening speech.
Congratulations to all the sailors, you have skiting rights that you attended “that” Opti Nats at New Plymouth with “the massive swells and strong winds” – hopefully you have learnt some new skills, made some new friends and cemented your passion for sailing in the future!
Full results and photos at http://www.npyc.org.nz/