NZ’s top youth match racers contend for World Championship selection at this weekend’s Oceanbridge Trials.
Teams set to battle it out at The Oceanbridge Youth Match Racing World Trials and Auckland Championships for the opportunity of a lifetime and a stepping stone up in their sailing careers.
This weekend’s Oceanbridge Youth Match Racing World Trials and Auckland Championships will be a fiercely contested event, with the top placed New Zealand youth team being selected to represent the country on the international stage at the World Sailing Youth Match Racing Championships in Sydney this December. with a possibility a second youth team may also secure selection. In order to win qualification, the sailors must be aged under 23 when the championships are sailed at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia from 9-15 December 2023.
Three of the twelve competing teams are made up of current Mastercard Youth Training Programme (YTP) sailors. RNZYS Performance Sailing Manager Zak Merton says: “We are very excited to host this event, which is a great opportunity for our young sailors to showcase their skills and passion for match racing. We have a strong history of producing world-class match racers, and we hope to continue that tradition by sending two competitive teams to Sydney. We are also very grateful to Oceanbridge for their support and sponsorship of this event.”
Among these three teams are sailors who will be competing at an event of this calibre for the very first time including a team made up of Hayden Smith, Alissa Marshall, Luca Smith, and Marin Armstrong-Wills, who have just returned from racing in Nouméa, and two other YTP teams led by Rory Sims and Sam Scott.
Competitors have left few stones unturned in preparing for the regatta. For example, the Yosemite Sam Racing Team of Josh Hyde, Jack Manning, Zach Fong and Cody Coughlan have enlisted the support of America’s Cup Veteran and elite professional coach Rod Davis.
Knowing first -hand the importance of attending a World Championship regatta for sailing career progression, other RNZYS Performance Programme graduates including Olympian Leonard Takahashi-Fry and Match Racing World Champion Nick Egnot-Johnson have generously donated their time and experience to mentoring other teams.
One of those teams is the LJ Racing Team helmed by Jack Frewin with Sofia Higgott, Oliver Lloyd and Oliver Gilmore who have been a visible force practicing multiple times per week on the waters right in front of RNZYS where racing is likely to occur.
Doubling as the Auckland Championships, the event will also see some recent graduates from the renowned RNZYS Performance Programme race, including skipper Robbie McCutcheon who has recently returned from racing the TP52 Super Series in the Northern Hemisphere.
This is the first year that Oceanbridge is supporting this event at RNZYS, a further commitment to their investment in youth sport and youth sailing.