VIODA Report from NZ Nationals — The 2017 Kiwi Opti Nationals were held at Napier Sailing Club over the Easter break. The weather just prior to the regatta was a bit challenging to say the least, with Cyclone Cook bringing torrential rain and ferocious wind gusts of up to 70 knots (no that’s not a typo!) as it passed through Napier on the day before the racing began. Because of the extreme weather, all the optis had to be tied down of filled with water overnight so they didn’t take off in the storm! The race committee assured all the competitors that the cyclone system would pass rapidly and to our surprise, the racing got underway the next morning in 5-10kts and a VERY BIG swell.
The 177 competitors in the open fleet were divided into three flights for the two-day qualifying series in order to select the bronze, silver and gold fleets for the finals. The kiwi sailors were joined by visitors from Tahiti, New Caledonia and a strong Aussie contingent including the AOST NZ squad which included Zac Heyes, James Jackson and Lachie Weber. The AOST team was coached by Tom Brewer and Sam Mackay who was in his element back at his home club! Lachie Grogan, Finn McMahon and Linus Talacko also travelled over as part of their preparation for the North American Championships in June- July.
Despite the light and shifty conditions and messy waves, all the Victorians managed the conditions well in the first two days to qualify for the gold fleet which was a great effort.
The teams racing was held on Easter Sunday with 24 teams going head to head on a course located close to shore for the spectators and spiced up with some big swells rolling in from the Pacific. The Aussie NAMS team of Lachie, Finn & Linus together with Jamie Bougher and Mia Lovelady from WA, who bizarrely called themselves “Team Ersplat” (you’ll have to ask them why!) almost made up for the Wallabies defeat at the hands of the All Blacks, coming a very close second to the victorious kiwi team from Murrays Bay Sailing Club.
The first day of the final series looked promising but the wind failed to fill in sufficiently for a course to be set so racing was abandoned after a long wait. On the final day of the regatta, two races were sailed in a very light and shifty offshore breeze which tested the fleet.
The regatta was convincingly won by Seb Menzies from Murrays Bay Sailing Club who won 5 races and showed incredible consistency, being able to drop a 6th place for a total of only 8 points. David Buchanan from Charteris Bay Sailiing Club was second and Blake Wilson from Queensland finished in 3rd place.
The Victorians were also well represented at the top of the fleet with Finn McMahon finishing 9th, Linus 10th & Lachie Grogan in 14th place.
You can access the complete results here
Congratulations to Napier Sailing Club for running a very high quality event in difficult conditions.
It was great experience for all the Victorians who competed and a really enjoyable Easter break for all the families who attended. Make sure you put the NZ Nationals in your diary for Easter 2018!