13 teams ready for Womens Keelboat National Championships
Thirteen teams will line up for this weekends NZ Women’s National Keelboat Championships at the RNZYS.
There will be 10 teams from Auckland, one from Tauranga, one from Christchurch and one from Argentina.
The crews will utilise the 11 MRX boats at the Squadron, meaning byes will be built into the racing, and MRX fleet manager Gary Sugden expects it to be one of the most competitive fleets in years.
“There are five or six boats that could win it this year and that’s not been the case for some time,” he said.
Karleen Dixon, who won last year, and Melinda Henshaw have dominated for some time, finishing in the top two for the last four years. The pair will be among the favourites again but Sugden expected strong challenges from a handful of other teams, including Megan Thomsons RNZYS Youth Training Programme team who just finished 2nd overall in the Dufour Ladies Summer Series in the same boats.
The level of the entire women’s fleet has gone up over the past 12 months on the back of the summer series. As many as 10 teams raced every second Tuesday evening at the Squadron and a number of them also raced in the Ponsonby series.
“There’s significantly more interest in women’s keelboat racing and it bodes well for the future,” Sugden said. “The skill level was already good in a number of boats and others have learned a lot more and gained a lot of confidence and experience that they can go into a nationals and perform well.”
The RNZYS is hopeful of attracting 20 teams for next year’s national championships, which would be comparable in size to fleets in the heyday of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Many crews have also talked about travelling to support regattas around the country, in the way an Auckland crew competed in Picton this summer.
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