Gifford Wins US Grand Slam – Three-peat for RNZYS
Alastair Gifford from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) has secured the win at the US Grand Slam by finishing third in the final event, The Thompson Cup, hosted by Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, New York.
Gifford competed in all four events of the USA Grand Slam, winning the first two and finishing sixth and third in the last two. The four events include The Chicago Cup, The Detroit Cup, Oakcliff International and The Thompson Cup.
The overall winner of the Grand Slam Series gets an invitation to the Congressional Cup hosted by Long Beach Yacht Club next year. The Congressional Cup is known as the ‘grandfather of match racing’ and attracts the world’s best match racers. Familiar names such as Johnie Berntsson (SWE), Taylor Canfield (USA), Scotty Dickson (USA/NZL), and Ian Williams (GBR) amongst many other top sailors have raced in the Congressional Cup.
Gifford’s win follows Jordan Stevenson’s win in 2019 with his Vento Racing team and Nick Egnot-Johnson’s title claim in 2018 with his KNOTS Racing team. All three teams represented RNZYS and came from the club’s Performance Programme (PP), making Gifford’s win a three-peat for the Squadron as there was no series in 2020 due to COVID-19 forcing cancellations.
“Our goal with the Grand Slam was to hold up the Squadron reputation that was set up by Nick and Jordan previously. Winning the first two events set that expectation again so coming up on top of the table in the end game was an outcome we couldn’t be more proud of. Now off to the next challenge.”
The Performance Programme provides a pathway for sailors who are seeking to be the best match racers in the world and want to compete at the highest level internationally. Looking at match racing results over the last few years, RNZYS Performance Programme teams have been at the top, proving that the programme is hugely successful in pushing sailors to achieve their best results. There has been success in both the open and women fleets worldwide. Having a three-peat at one of the highest contested match racing series in the world is a tribute to the hard work of the sailors, coaches and the commitment that the Squadron has made to the overall programme.
The Performance Programme is possible thanks to the ongoing support of its sponsors. Musto, Emirates, East Imperial, NZL Sailing Foundation and the Foiling Family have continuously supported the sailors of RNZYS which ensures they are able to focus on training against the best locally and internationally.
To qualify for the Performance Programme, a sailor must first work their way through the ranks of the Mastercard Youth Training Programme (MC-YTP) before being selected for a position within the PP. MC-YTP is a highly recognized programme around the globe for propelling youth talent in sailing. Applications for the MC-YTP are received all year round and the programme begins in the beginning of the calendar year.
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is based in Auckland and is New Zealand’s leading yacht club, originating in 1871. It is the official home to the 36th America’s Cup after Emirates Team New Zealand successfully defended the America’s Cup in Auckland in 2021. Celebrating its 150th year, RNZYS continues to host a multitude of social events, run thousands of races a year for members, provide training for the next generation and offer an inviting place to eat and drink.
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Credit: Alison Kent – Live Sail Die