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Sailors at New Zealand nationals

Thursday 28 January 2010 | Published in Regional

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Cook Islands national sailors have now arrived in Timaru for the New Zealand nationals with plenty of sunshine and breeze making for good sailing.

The team came down to Christchurch straight from the Adelaide competition and spent a week racing with other young sailors at the Christchurch Yacht Club.

They raced with them on Sunday with a good variation of estuary and open sea sailing, in strong winds.

The sailors then headed to Timaru and were able to pick up hire boats and do three days of practice before the event began. Saturday was the first day of racing with a heavy ocean swell. Taua Elisa sailed well against a classy field which includes New Zealand’s best laser sailors -- Olympian Andrew Murdoch and Michael Bullot runner-up at the ILCA Laser World Champs -- and other sailors challenging for these prestigious opportunities.

This event is the first of four events which will decide New Zealand representation at the World Championships.

Elisa was lying in 12 place at this stage out of 31 starters and is really enjoying the event. The 4.7s started their racing with two general recalls but they were able to get away cleanly the second time.

The young sailors, here to experience big fleet racing, soon learned that this is no place for gentlemen!

The start line is crowded and with 33 boats starting, it is a different kettle of fish from starting with a maximum of 10 boats on the line.

Toka Charlie was able to start well both times and got away to a great start in the first race to eventually finish ninth. In the second race after being boxed in on the beat, he managed to find some clear air and finished 17th – to hold 12th placing in the fleet of 33. Teau McKenzie started reasonably well but took the less favoured side and struggled to find clear air. She finished in 31st place out of 33.

The second race saw a good improvement with a more aggressive post-start plan, where she sailed well to come in 18th in the mixed 4.7 fleet and placed 25 from 33.

Aquila Tatira from Aitutaki is learning to be more aggressive too as the first beat is every man for himself and a good start alone will not cut the mustard!

He was pretty well buried in the fleet and tried all he knew to find clear air unsuccessfully. In both races his place was 27 from 33. While disappointed he is fired up now to sail with that new knowledge in mind and will have five races scheduled to apply his new ‘tough’ philosophy!

All being well he may be able to drop these two races if the scheduled 10 race series is completed.