NZ’s Best Sailors to Contest RNZYS eSailing Challenge

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The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) has had to reinvent itself, like many other sports during the COVID-19 crisis, and this Sunday 26 April from 6pm-7pm it will livestream a free, virtual sailing event aimed at entertaining the public, their members, and sailing and boating enthusiasts around the world.

In this ground breaking event, two teams of eight will compete in four different races. All sixteen sailors must compete in each category and the sailor with the lowest series score (i.e. the best results) will be crowned the winner. The fun element is that one of the teams is comprised of seasoned eSailors and the other is made up of New Zealand’s most outstanding competitive sailors, including Olympic medallists, America’s Cup winners, SailGP sailors, and World Champions with very little virtual sailing experience.

“You’re going to see our sports ‘Real Rockstars’ going up against some of our best eSailors the ‘Virtual Rockstars’”, said Hayden Porter, CEO, RNZYS. “We hope New Zealanders will get behind the event and cheer on their favourite sailors, in a virtual sense, engaging and making comments on Facebook to create a new piece of sporting history. During lockdown, the RNZYS has turned into an e-Club and we have an entirely new way of sailing to add to our illustrious history as we near our 150th Anniversary in 2021.”

The star-studded Real Rockstar team includes Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Phil Robertson, Alex Maloney, Sam Meech, Leonard Takahashi, Chris Steele and Matt Steven – all of whom have had incredible experience and success in the ‘real’ sailing world and are all poised to enter the competitive world of eSailing.

Burling and Tuke are very well known in New Zealand for their achievements. These include winning six 49er world titles, a gold and silver Olympic medal in the 49er, winning the America’s Cup with Emirates Team New Zealand, and competing in the most recent edition of The Ocean Race. 

Alex Maloney is an Olympic Silver Medallist and Sam Meech has an Olympic Bronze medal to his name. Leonard Takahashi is one to watch and competes for the Japanese SailGP team, as well as the Japanese Olympic team, and is a product of the world famous RNZYS Mastercard Youth Training Program. 

Phil Robertson is an experienced and highly successful sailor who has won World Match Racing and Extreme Sailing Series titles. He is currently sailing for the Spanish SailGP team. Chris Steele has many match racing event titles to his name, and currently competes on the M32 circuit in the Northern Hemisphere – both Robertson and Steele are also products of the RNZYS Mastercard YTP. Completing the Real Rockstar team is three-time 18 foot skiff world champion Matt Steven.

The Rockstar sailors will be racing in unfamiliar waters on Sunday when they take to the Virtual Regatta eSailing platform, and they will be up against it as they take on the RNZYS’s best virtual eSailors.

During the lockdown period in New Zealand, the RNZYS has been running an online sailing competition via the virtual regatta platform – with more than 180 members participating – and their eight best virtual sailors have been selected for this epic showdown. 

Expect edge of the seat commentary with Jesse Tuke. Coverage will feature interviews with team members – plus post-race interviews with the winners, Peter Burling & Blair Tuke, and an all-female panel that includes the three female sailors taking part. 

The RNZYS invites you to share the event with friends, family, sports clubs and the sailing community and tune in via the RNZYS Facebook HERE at 6pm Sunday 26th April to see who will be crowned the winner of the RNZYS eSailing Challenge!

For further media enquiries contact: 

RNZYS PR & Communications Manager Andrew Delves – adelves@rnzys.org.nz

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