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Sixteen Teams vying for 2020 NZMRC glory

by RNZYS 8 Oct 20:03 NZDT
Knots racing in big breeze © RNZYS

A stellar sixteen teams will be on the water at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron from Thursday through to Sunday this week vying for the 2020 Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championship title.

Casting your eye over the entry list, it’s anyone’s guess who will reign supreme on Sunday afternoon, with a raft of experienced teams and the best match racers in New Zealand competing.

Defending champion Nick Egnot-Johnson and his RNZYS Performance Programme Knots Racing Team are looking to go back-to-back, but Egnot-Johnson is wary of the fact it’s going to be even tougher this year –

“We had a great regatta in 2019, just beating Reuben [Corbett] in a super light wind final. It looks like it’s going to be pretty breezy this weekend, and there is going to be a lot of experienced teams out there, so we know it’s going to be a really tough event, but we will embrace it and look forward to the challenge.”

Last year’s runner-up Reuben Corbett is back for another crack, and this time he has called upon a few experienced match racers to join his team. Harry Thurston – a three-time winner of this event with various skippers - Tom Bentham, and Guy Pilkington have all signed up to race with Corbett. Not only is there plenty of sailing experience in the team, but there is a lot of coaching nous involved, with Corbett the current RNZYS Mastercard YTP Director, and Pilkington the former man in charge of the Squadron’s world leading Youth Training Programme. It is going to be great to watch this team come up against some of their current and former pupils, and you can guarantee there will be no love lost.

Two-time runner-up Graeme Sutherland will be doing his best to finally win one and is joined in his crew by Olympic Bronze medalist and last weekend’s Theland NZ Open National Keelboat Champion Sam Meech. Meech also has experience winning this event, with victories in 2017 and 2018 crewing for Andy Maloney and Josh Junior respectively.

We have two all-female teams racing, Megan Thomson (RNZYS PP 2.0 Women’s Racing Team) and Celia Willison (RNZYS PP Edge Women’s Match). Both have the advantage of only just competing at the NZ Women’s Match Racing Championship a few weeks ago, so both should be ready to go.

Two more RNZYS PP teams are also hitting the water, including Jordan Stevenson (RNZYS PP Vento Racing) and Niall Malone. Malone is representing the Royal Irish Yacht Club, and Stevenson is always right up there in the results so will be looking to push on for the win this week.

Making the journey from the bottom of the North Island are Albert Stanley and Will Wright who are both representing the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in Wellington. Both have competed at a few youth match racing events here so know the conditions fairly well, and Stanley will be desperate to improve on his last place finish at this event in 2019.

Former RNZYS Mastercard YTP sailors Frankie Dair and Alastair Gifford are in, and both are pretty handy match racers, especially in the Elliott 7’s, so they can’t be discounted as a chance to win this weekend.

Current RNZYS Mastercard YTP sailor Max McLachlan is taking part in what is his first open match racing event, and will no doubt gain valuable experience.

RNZYS Mastercard YTP skipper Robbie McCutcheon finished second at the NZMRC qualifier two weeks ago, securing his place on the entry list. Sean Herbert also qualified via that event, as did the Royal Akarana Yacht Club’s Isaac McHardie, and all three will be trying to push their cases as entry’s who aren’t just making up the numbers.

The final name on the list is Leonard Takahashi. Takahashi has been out of the match racing scene for a while as he has been a busy boy on board the Japan Sail GP team, as well as training in the 49er in which he has qualified to represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics. Takahashi has got his Pacific Racing Team band back together, which includes Taylor Balogh and Josh Wijohn, and also has his 49er teammate Ibuki Koizumi joining the team. Takahashi has a 3rd and 4th place finish at this event to his name and he’s looking forward to getting back out there and match racing against the best in New Zealand –

“It’s been a while between competitions for sure but it’s going to be really fun to get back out there with the lads. It’s a solid line-up the Squadron has put together, probably the best I’ve seen, but we’ve been training hard in the background so we will be dialed in and we’ll see how we go.”

The Race Management team will be led by Brian Trubovich, with Collette Kraus the Chief Umpire. All racing is set to take place on the water right outside the RNZYS.

Yachting Developments NZMRC Event Format: Pool A Round Robin (Thursday) Pool B Round Robin (Friday) Super Sixteen Knockout Round Quarter Finals Semi Finals Petite Final Grand Final

Entry List: Leonard Takahashi – RNZYS Pacific Racing Team Frankie Dair – RNZYS Reuben Corbett - RNZYS Albert Stanley – Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club Celia Willison – RNZYS Performance Programme Edge Women’s Match Niall Malone – RNZYS PP / Royal Irish Yacht Club Robbie McCutcheon – RNZYS Mastercard Youth Training Programme Max McLachlan – RNZYS Mastercard YTP Nick Egnot Johnson – RNZYS PP Knots Racing Jordan Stevenson – RNZYS PP Vento Racing Graeme Sutherland – Sandspit Yacht Club Will Wright – Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club Megan Thomson – RNZYS PP 2.0 Women’s Racing Alastair Gifford – RNZYS Isaac Mchardie – Royal Akarana Yacht Club Sean Herbert – RNZYS

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