It was a glorious weekend for some frivolous rivalry, boat-on-boat racing, and team banter. Seven teams battled it out in the stadium fondly known as Okahu Bay this long weekend for the 2023 Open Teams Racing National Title. We had a fabulous lineup of competitors with teams travelling from Wanaka, Nelson, Whangerei and the greater Auckland region to compete.
Saturday morning was pumping with 20 knots building to squalls upwards of 30 knots throughout the day. All the teams were revved to go and excited for the challenging day ahead. Previous five-time national champions Kiwi Team Racing were not at this year’s nationals leaving the win up for grabs and ensuring new title holders in 2023. RAYC’s team Thievery were going at the title for the 6th year and were arguably the favourites to finally succeed.
The strong winds caused plenty of carnage throughout the first round robin, breaking several masts which required a postponement onshore while the teams regrouped. The points were pretty locked up going into day two with no stand-out leaders. Akarana Swim Team, Thievery and RNZYS all traded wins back and forth making for a critical day two.
The conditions began a lot milder on day two with a nice 10 knot westerly starting the second round robin, which eventually built into the upper teens throughout the third round robin. By the end of day two Thievery had made their intentions clear, leading into finals day and securing themselves a spot in the semi-finals. Joining them would be the other RAYC team “Akarana Swim Team”, made up entirely of Akarana Academy Coaches, and the RNZYS team. Leaving Spud Racing, Whakatu Floater, Ship Luck, and Wanaka to battle it out for the final semis spot in the repechage.
Finals day rolled around at a much slower pace with a full glass off in the harbour first thing in the morning which threatened the days racing and postponed the teams on shore, however after an hour a nice southerly began to fill in ready for 7th – 4th to compete in the repechage. Whangerai’s Spud Racing came out on top after a feisty morning of racing ready to take on Thievery in the semis where they were beaten three nil, launching Thievery into the finals. The other semi-final between Akarana Swim Team (ASC) and Squadron was really close, with ASC going 2 – 0 only for Squadron to come back fighting and take out the next three races to beat ASC 3-2.
The finals between Squadron and Thievery was very one-sided. In a best-of-five format, Thievery ended up winning the first three races to claim their title 6 years in the making.
Special thanks to all of the amazing volunteers who gave up their long weekend to make this regatta happen. Especially our amazing race officer Paul who even provided his own boat as the start boat for the event. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our volunteers including many of the sailors who stepped up and made sure everything ran smoothly. Overall it was a fantastic event, with a wide range of conditions and a huge amount of skill on display. Congratulations Thievery team and well done to all competitors.