ETNZ’s Maloney survives hectic conditions to win the Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championships
Emirates Team New Zealand’s Andy Maloney, and his crew made up of Olympic Bronze Medallist Sam Meech & RNZYS YTP graduates Shaun Mason and Harry Thurston, have won the RNZYS Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championships on what was a hectic days sailing in Auckland.
It was a day for surviving out on the water with the wind well over 25 knots as well as some heavy 35 knot gusts coming through the course, meaning mistakes were very costly and easy to make, but it also made for an extremely entertaining watch for spectators.
The first Semi-Final saw Maloney up against RNZYS YTP graduate Dave Hazard in a best of 3 match up. Hazard had a great start in the first race and managed to claim a victory, putting him straight on match point with a 1-0 lead. However Maloney and his crew came back strong in the next race, winning the start and then the race to take us to a decider. Hazard reflected on his first two semi-final races – “We got off to a good start in the morning, it was a little bit of a lighter breeze and we managed to take one off Andy. In the second race we didn’t have a good start and Andy got away from us and it was basically over from there.”
The pressure was well and truly on for the deciding race and it showed in contrasting fashion with Hazard getting off the line first but unfortunately picking up a penalty for hitting the pin, which then led to a major sequence of unfortunate events for Hazard who dropped his kite right on top of the jib sheet sending it into the drink and underneath the boat, essentially handing Maloney the win and a spot in the final – “At the bottom (mark) we dropped our kite and it was on top of the jib sheet so it went straight out into the water and we ended up with a big major, it was game over. A great day though with awesome racing and we will be back again.” – Hazard.
Maloney handled the pressure well in this semi-final with his limited match racing experience on helm, although it didn’t all go to plan – “We had some pretty rusty starts but it was really good fun. We had a good semi-final against Dave and he pushed us to three races which was really good preparation for the final.”
The second semi-final was our RNZYS student v teacher matchup between Leo Takahashi (RNZYS PP) and his coach Graeme Sutherland (RNZYS PP). It was all on in the first pre start with Takahashi getting the better of Sutherland, but unfortunately he (Takahashi) made few handling errors in the first race which meant Sutherland caught up and took the gun. The second match also saw Takahashi come out on top in the start, but a few things didn’t go his way in the race and the experience of Sutherland shone through to send him to his 2nd NZMRC Final in as many years.
When asked to describe his day Takahashi reflected – “We were pretty happy to win both starts but a few boat handling errors cost us in the first race, there was a big left hand shift and Graeme got a jump on us. It was a bit of a soldier’s course with no passing lanes and all we could do was follow him around. We re-grouped for the second one (race) and won the start again but on the last downwind we gave him the right hand side and he had right of way so we couldn’t really pass him there. Overall though we’re really happy because this is our first regatta sailing together as a team so there is plenty to build on. We are also sailing some more regatta overseas this year so looking forward to those.”
Sutherland then gave his take on the semi-final match up – “We had some close racing against Leonard, he cleaned us out in both pre-starts but it was shifting quite a lot, especially in that first one but the guys fought back hard. We had a bit of a ding-dong battle but experience came out on top this time.”
So with the rain pelting down and the wind picking up even further, it was time for the grand finale with Maloney taking on Sutherland in what was going to be an epic match up. Maloney and his crew showed great form to take the first two races, and although the racing was very tight and unbelievably exciting, it looked as though Maloney had the wood on his competitor.
Sutherland however had other ideas, looking to avenge his loss to Chris Steele in last year’s final, and he wasn’t going to give up that easily, coming back to take the 3rd race in amongst a couple of spectacularly bad gybes from both teams. “It was really fresh against Andy in those races, we were really on the edge of surviving and trying to do some match racing at the same time.” – Sutherland.
However a sign of a true champion is coming up in the clutch, and Maloney with his experienced team came out firing in the final race to take a decent lead around the course and with it the 2017 RNZYS NZMRC Trophy – “We were getting some really big 30-35 knot gusts in that final so it was all about trying to get off the start line and around the course cleanly, and not make any massive mistakes. The boats were really fun, they lit up down-wind so it was good racing.” – Maloney.
It’s been a great year for Maloney who won the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda with Emirates Team New Zealand, and he can now add the New Zealand Match Racing Champion feather to his cap, although this may have been the last time we see Maloney take on a match racing regatta. When asked about his stellar year and told he should probably get as many regattas under his belt this year as possible, Maloney laughed – “This is probably my last match racing regatta for a while.”
We would like to thank all competitors in this year’s Yachting Developments NZMRC, it was the best we have had for some time and we saw a really high quality level of racing. The Race Management team, led by Harold Bennett, also deserve a big wrap for doing an outstanding job across the 4 days — in very contrasting conditions – making the courses perfect and delivering a superb standard of racing for all to see.
Congratulations again to Andy Maloney and his crew, they were certainly the team to beat from the very beginning of the regatta and they showed class to come through on top and take home the silverware.
2017 Yachting Developments NZMRC Final Placings
- Andy MALONEY
- Graeme SUTHERLAND
- Leonard TAKAHASHI
- David HAZARD
- James WILSON
- George ANYON
- Matthew HUGHES
- Arnau FARRAS-KNOWLES
- Sam BARNETT
- Frankie DAIR
- Samantha OSBORNE
- Nick EGNOT-JOHNSON
- Patrick HARRIS
- Alistair GIFFORD
- Lachlan GRIMWADE
- Colman O’ROIDEN
- Nick ROZENAUERS
- James JENNINGS
- Jono BARNETT
FULL RESULTS HERE
Follow the NZMRC Facebook Page for Photo’s & more from the regatta HERE
RNZYS PR Manager – Andrew Delves – firstname.lastname@example.org