New Zealand’s best sailors presently have little option but to travel overseas to find quality competition but will soon find regattas in Australia and New Zealand that are expected to attract some of the world’s best sailors.
Yachting New Zealand and Australian Sailing have signed a joint commitment to attend major regattas on both sides of the Tasman and there has already been interest from Asian and European countries to also compete in what is traditionally their off-season.
The Tasman Project, as the agreement has been called, will see some members of the NZL Sailing Team attend regattas in Australia in December for at least the next three years. In return, some of Australia’s top Olympic class sailors will compete in this country’s premier event, February’s Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta.
Both regattas will also host youth and aspiring Olympic class sailors and have a strong coaching element and will provide greater opportunities in both countries.
“The reason for creating this agreement is, in part, due to the prohibitive costs of attending European and World Cup regattas,” Yachting New Zealand chief executive David Abercrombie said. “The idea is to create quality coaching and regatta opportunities in this part of the world during a time of the year when the sailing is best here.
“This year’s Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta saw sailors from seven countries travel to compete and we think that number can grow.
“Hopefully the success of hosting the 2016 Aon Youth Sailing World Championships at Torbay demonstrates New Zealand’s capability of hosting major regattas. The feedback we had from the 69 countries who competed in that event was extremely positive in terms of venue, water quality and race management and will encourage others to come here.”
New Zealand and Australia both boast a great recent record in Olympic class sailing. Both countries captured four medals at last year’s Rio Olympics, the equal most of any competing nations and the equal most by New Zealand in Olympic history.
Although rivals, New Zealand and Australia have a history of working together with many crews helping each other as training partners and the Tasman Project is expected to strengthen those ties and help both countries succeed internationally.
“This is a great opportunity for Australian Sailing and Yachting New Zealand to continue to work together to create stronger competitions for our sailors,” Australian Sailing chief executive John Lee said.
“To allow the sailors from both countries to have guaranteed international standard racing at home each year will be a huge benefit in the development of our athletes and squads. We also hope to encourage other sailors from the Southern Hemisphere to take part, and expect our friends in the Northern Hemisphere will see the benefit to taking a summer break in Australia and New Zealand to compete against the best.”
The full 2017/18 schedule of events
Nov 29-Dec 2: Sail Melbourne, Royal Brighton Yacht Club, Melbourne
Dec 5-8: Sail Sydney Coach-led Regatta, Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Sydney
Dec 11-14: Sail Sydney, Woollahara Sailing Club, Sydney
Jan 29-Feb 1: Oceanbridge Coach-led Regatta, Murrays Bay Sailing Club
Feb 2-5: Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta, Murrays Bay Sailing Club