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Seven strong female teams seeking NZ Women's Match Racing title

by Andrew Delves – RNZYS PR & Communications Manager 9 Sep 09:09 NZST
Celia Willison - Edge Women's Match Racing © Andrew Delves RNZYS

It’s all about women’s match racing this weekend at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron as the 2020 NZ Women’s Match Racing Championship gets underway on Friday morning.

Seven all-female kiwi teams will take to the water in the RNZYS fleet of Elliott 7 keelboats for three days of match racing, with a deserving champion being crowned on Sunday afternoon.

The entry list is highlighted by 2019 champion and RNZYS Performance Programme skipper Celia Willison and her Edge Women’s Match team. Willison defeated Californian Allison Blecher in the 2019 final to claim her maiden title, and she is motivated to win back-to-back titles with a victory this weekend.

“The girls and I are super keen to get out there and race against what is a great line-up. We haven’t had a match racing regatta since February so it’s pretty exciting to be able to go match racing again. We really want to do well and it would be awesome to win this event again, but we know we will have our work cut out for us this weekend against some really good female sailors.”

Another RNZYS PP skipper, Megan Thomson, is also hitting the water this weekend with her 2.0 Women’s Match Racing Team. Thomson has come a long way since her seventh-place finish at this event in 2019, which is shown by some solid results as well as her recent selection in the RNZYS Youth America’s Cup team. Thomson and her team have been putting a lot of effort in with trainings as often as they can, and they should be very competitive this weekend.

Samantha Norman and Claudia Pierce are both skippering their respective teams and will be looking to somewhat turn back the clock when they take on the up-and-coming generation at this regatta. Both are graduates of the RNZYS Mastercard Youth Training Programme but haven’t been involved in any match racing for some time, however, both are very experienced and aren’t coming along just to make up the numbers. Norman and Pierce will no doubt be hoping they can show the new kids on the block how it’s done.

From the RNZYS Mastercard YTP, young sailors Maeve White and Holly McNeil will be making their NZ Women’s Match Racing Championship debuts. Both will be skippering teams made up entirely of Mastercard YTP sailors, a good reflection of the strength and number of young female sailors coming through the programme.

Historically this event would attract international teams from Australia, America, and other nations, but COVID-19 has put a stop to that this year. However, we do have our seventh team, skippered by Ella Wilcox, who are travelling the one-thousand-kilometre journey from Christchurch. Ella will be our only South Island representative skipper competing, and she will be looking to emulate the efforts of the South Island rugby team who took down the North this past weekend.

Racing will include a double round-robin on Friday and Saturday, followed by semi-finals and finals on Sunday.

The winning team will receive the Leith Mossman Memorial Trophy which was donated by the NZ Women’s Yachting Trust in 2000 in memory of an avid female sailor, Leith Mossman, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 1998.

Racing will get underway at 10am each day on the water right outside the RNZYS. The RNZYS encourages all to join them at the club or out on the water to cheer on and enjoy these talented female sailors as they do battle in their quest to be crowned NZ Women’s Match Racing champions.

Images and updates will be shared throughout the regatta on the RNZYS Facebook & Instagram accounts.

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