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The Prospering P Class

by Scott Leith 22 Jul 12:12 NZST
The proportionally large sail area makes the P Class an exciting boat to sail down wind. © Scott Leith

After many years playing second fiddle to the Optimist, the Mighty P Class is out of the wilderness and starting to take centre stage once again.

The dearly loved and iconic P Class is currently undergoing a big revival and the numbers at the recent running of the inaugural Freshwater Intergalactic Championships at Lake Pupuke proves that young Kiwi sailors are keen to race - no matter what the conditions!

Near freezing conditions (i.e. 10 degrees in Auckland!) in the middle of winter still drew a strong entry of 27 sailors competing over the two day, 6 race regatta. Team NZ invested back in the grassroots by providing two amazing trophies for the Intergalactic Championship and the Perseverance Award.

A big number of Optimist sailors are taking up P Class racing after all travelling teams overseas were cancelled by the national body, NZIODA, even those wanting to travel independently to IODA events are prohibited by NZIODA. Additionally, the Opti ranking system for the 2022 season has been changed by NZIODA so only the Interislander and Nationals in February and April 2022 count for "potential" future travelling teams next year.

Accordingly, there has been a shift of focus from the Optimist sailors; with many jumping ship from the Optimist and into the P Class for the rest of 2021 so they are primed to compete in the Tanner and Tauranga Cups at Murrays Bay Sailing Club from 4 - 9 January 2022. Over 50 P Class are expected at the Tauranga Cup, the biggest P Class Nationals fleet in over a decade.

Similarly, the recent YNZ announcement to not send a team to the prestigious Youth Worlds in December at Oman will see some of the younger youth sailors seeking meaningful regattas to race while they are grounded here in NZ.

In addition to the international event opportunities for our kiwi sailors being closed out for the rest of 2021, as always in youth sailing some keen parents mixed with enthusiastic and top end sailors not to mention the amazing P Class yacht itself, mean many new sailors are attracted to the P Class.

The top Optimist sailors like Joe Leith, Tessa Clinton, Nelson Meecham and Oli Stone all shone at the Intergalactic regatta.

Conditions on day 1 were light and shifty and day 2 were medium plus a blasting 25 knots but still very shifty. So it was a great test of the sailors race skills rather than a speed contest with strong lake strategy and boat handling tactics across a range of conditions required.

In the end, impressive sailing by Joe Leith who won all 6 races by large margins meant he claimed the Intergalactic Championship with a race to spare. The equally impressive Tessa Clinton easily claimed first girl and was 2nd overall in a close battle with Nelson Meecham (aka Lorde Sweet Heart) and Oli Stone 4th. Gemma Hebberd (a newbie to the P Class in her first-ever race) won the Perseverance Award for sticking at it after a number of spectacular wipeouts in Race 5 when 25-knot gusts hit the entire fleet for 5 minutes - some of the more experienced sailors came ashore and gave up to the weather!

Full Results

Sailwave results for Fresh Water Interglactic P Class Champ 2021 at The Lake 2021

P Class regattas throughout the next 5 months;

Auckland Winter Sprint Series (AWSS) 31 July at Murrays Bay 14 August at Wakatere 28th August at Kohimarama 18th September at Murrays Bay (incl. the Ice Breaker)

16&17 October Winter Champs at Murrays Bay

23&24 October North Islands at Wakatere

13&14 November Auckland Champs Glendowie

4&5 December Sir Peter Blake Regatta Torbay

11&12 December Most provinces Tanner Cup trials

4th - 9th January Tanner and Tauranga Cups at Murrays Bay

Make sure you find a P Class to get out sailing while there are still some left for sale! Contact your local club P Class rep for more details and ask for access to the WhatsApp group NZ P Sailing.

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