New dates for NZMRC qualifiers
Fitting the qualifiers in for the New Zealand Match Racing Championships is normally done with ease but a series of interruptions will now see it held at the end of September.
The qualifiers are normally held six weeks before the NZMRC and had been scheduled for the week of August 11. Teams had been finalising their training and getting ready for weigh-in when Auckland went into level 3 lockdown, meaning the event had to be postponed.
With only two free weekends left to run the qualifiers (August 29-30 or September 26-27) the continued lockdown restrictions meant the September date was the only option.
Interestingly, this is the second year in a row that the event has been rescheduled. Last year’s event needed to be re-sailed to find the qualifiers after the event was blown out by constant high winds of 30 knots.
This year’s lineup filled quickly, with lots of top talent and development teams looking to gain precious ranking points and experience in a year when international travel looks doubtful for most.
Among the top teams are Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Performance Programme team skippers Niall Malone, Celia Willison and Megan Thomson.
Willison is the current New Zealand women’s match racing champion and is ninth in the women’s world match racing rankings.
Thomson has been building her women’s ranking over the last 18 months and is now 22nd. Both are looking to battle it out with another interesting lineup in mid-September at the 2020 New Zealand Women’s Match Racing Championships.
Other contenders include Youth Training Programme skippers Robbie McCutcheon, Jonathon Weston and Rachael Willison.
Three of the top-placed school teams from the Harken New Zealand Secondary School Keelboat National Championships held in early March earned automatic qualification for this event: Henry Angus from Auckland Grammar School, Josh Hyde from Westlake Boy’s High School, and Sam Scott from King’s College in place of Hamish McLaren who helmed the team to win the Harken schools title.
The other skippers are all unranked but seen as wildcards. The Royal Akarana Yacht Club have entered two teams, skippered by Isaac McHardie and Olivia Christie, who have both been selected for the RAYC Youth America’s Cup team. Alex Mitchell-Barker from the Murrays Bay Sailing Club has also thrown his hat in the ring.
It will be great to finally see these teams battle it out at the end of September for the three automatic qualification spots for the NZMRC. That event already has a very strong calibre of interested skippers.
Entries are filling fast and closing soon for both the New Zealand women’s match racing nationals and New Zealand Match Racing Championships.
See more on upcoming events at the RNZYS by clicking the links below.