New Zealand Open Keelboat Championships Preview
The New Zealand Open Keelboat Championships is poised to bring together the best of New Zealand’s crews for the chance to add their name to the extensive honour’s list of sailors that have taken out one of the most important weekend’s on the sailing calendar. With plenty of international and national sailing experience across all of the crews, the 7th and 8th of May will prove to be an incredibly competitive weekend on the Waitemata Harbour.
After her win at the 2022 Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Women’s Keelboat Championship, Sally Garrett and her Royal Akarana Yacht Club crew of Christine Weston, Jenny Price, Sarah Ell, Bella Boyd, Emma Stenhouse and Sara Winther are looking to add another title to their 2022 collection. They lead an incredibly strong women’s contingent into the Open, with 4 all-female crews after the chance to be the first women’s team to win the Open.
“I hope this can be the year”, says Garrett. “There is no reason why not with one design boats and a weight limit – the women’s teams certainly have talent”.
There’s plenty of class across the field that have proven themselves in the Open, with former Team New Zealand sailor and 2020 Open runner up Harry Thurston making his way up from Akaroa Yacht Club to try and do one better in 2022 with his crew of Tom Bentham, Thomas Olds and Taylor Balogh.
“We have some very good memories racing in the Open – some really good teams and a great event on and off the water have definitely made the boys and I want to come back!” said Thurston, this year’s Young 88 South Island Champion.
Garrett couldn’t agree more – “I think the Open in 2020 was pretty memorable after the first lockdowns – the team was really worried that we might struggle to keep up, but had a great regatta and so much fun”.
Garrett and Thurston’s crews will be joined by Olympic Silver Medallist in the 470 class, and this year’s Women’s Keelboat National’s runner-up, Leslie Egnot, as well as Megan Thomson skippering 2.0 Racing and another RAYC women’s team with Maria Ferrario at the helm. A very familiar sailing last name in Brad Salthouse skippering the RNZYS Youth Training Programme boat, and Open stalwart Peter Sumich, round out the field.
“We have worked really hard on our boat speed for the last 2 years and sailing in the Open – both the nationals and the sprints, has given us an opportunity to sail against open teams and fine tune the way we do things” says Garrett.
“We have a pretty tight crew with only 2 crew changes since 2018 – sailing together on Tuesday nights and the Women’s Nationals has been good for us to build on our boating handling and speed”,
“Now all I need to do is listen to Sara, and steer us in the right direction!”
Thurston will be looking to the start line as the key to his success for the weekend. “Speed will be key, and with shorter race lengths getting off the line in good shape is important”, says Harry.
“Generally it is quite a settled time of year so I’m expecting light conditions up in Auckland for the regatta which means larger gains or losses are made on the race track”, says Harry. He’s been having a lighter year, with just the South Island Young 88’s and Akaroa club racing under his belt for the 2021-22 summer season. “The form coming into the regatta might be lacking as I have not been doing any racing since the 88’s in early April”.
“However we’ll be ready for anything – we had a fairly windy first day at the 88’s and you do get some good busters coming through every now and again in the cooler months leading into winter”.
Garrett’s crew not only comes in to this event with good form aboard the MRX’s from their Women’s Keelboat Championship, but have been spending plenty of time sailing across many different classes.
“Christine, Jenny and I have been sailing in the open MRX sprints and I have also sailed my Flying 15 this summer as well.”
“Jenny Price also sails Flying Fifteen’s and has qualified to go to the World Champs for the first time as a helm. Bella Boyd has been racing the Laser Radial, Emma races on V5 and Sara of course is busy coaching”.
Garrett’s crew is looking forward to getting out there and competing for the Open title, as are many sailors across New Zealand – and Sally is looking forward to sailing against all comers.
“We’re looking forward to taking on every team – we are keen to go racing, do the best we can and see where we end up”.
The New Zealand Open Keelboat Championships are being sailed out of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron over the 7th and 8th of May.
Megan Thomson – RNZYS PP
Sally Garrett – RAYC
Peter Sumich – RNZYS
Maria Ferrario – RAYC
Leslie Egnot – CYC
Harry Thurston – Sandy Bay Yacht Club
Brad Salthouse – RNZYS YTP