An awesome couple of months for us, winning the Red Bull Youth Americas Cup with a great group of our mates, then winning the 49er World Champs.
The Red Bull Youth Americas Cup was an amazing opportunity – being able to race an AC45 against the world’s best under 25 sailors, just before the Americas Cup started on the same course area. Pete helmed, Blair was on tactics, with the rest of the crew Andy Maloney, Jason Saunders, Sam Meech, Guy Endean and Jono Spurdle. A really enjoyable regatta with everyone getting on really well and working hard together to reach the end goal.
As well as the 7 sailors we had Grant Beck and Richard Burling supporting us. We could have done with a team of fifteen, but in true Kiwi style the nine of us got stuck into the work that was required.
We stayed as a group 25-45 minutes drive away depending on traffic. A huge thanks to Dunn and Renate for their generosity – moving out and letting us have their house. Long days were the norm with a huge amount of boat work needed. We often left home before 7 and didn’t return til 9 or later.
As a group we learnt very quickly. Our container, home for the month for all our gear, drying room, supplies etc was just over the fence from the Team NZ base. Access to the ETNZ gym every day and ETNZ sailors/coaches popping in on their way to work was a massive help.
We were allowed very limited time on the water as the course was being used by the AC72s in the afternoons. All our boat manoeuvres were choreographed before we went out, time on the water was spent mastering our manoeuvres and communication between the 6 guys on the boat.
We felt ready for racing after the 3 weeks of training.
Launching took about 1.5hrs – the wing sail was wheeled out from the storage tent (so as not to fly away), craned onto the hull for rigging and the whole lot then craned onto the mooring where hopefully the boat would stay in the water for the duration of the event.
During the first official practice racing day, we hit something, smashing the centreboard case’s bottom bearing, and on the next leg we broke a SS pad eye fitting holding the front beam kingpost in position – limping back to the crane for an unscheduled haul out and missing the speed trial. All hands on deck – and the boat was launched again that evening ready for the first day’s racing. After the first day of racing our camber line for the wing sail had to be fixed – another haul out, to get the wing out and run a new line. Luckily for us no more issues after this.
Racing went well, leading the regatta from the first day. 2 great starts on day 3 were converted into race wins – giving us a huge lead, and the final race saw us win the regatta becoming the Red Bull Youth Americas Cup Champions.
A really cool part of our prize was the use of the Red Bull double-decker party bus for a couple of days plus tickets to a San Francisco Giants baseball game.
After the high of winning the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup and watching ETNZ win their first 2 races against Oracle, the two of us were on the plane bound for Marseille, France for the 49er World Championships. Our planned 49er training period was curtailed by the weather, a few days with too much wind and then no wind meant some enforced down-time, which wasn’t a bad thing after our full-on month in San Fran.
For much of the regatta we had late nights watching the Americas Cup racing – like the rest of NZ we lived the highs and lows of the Americas cup regatta. Huge respect for the Team NZ guys and congrats to Oracle.
The 49er qualifying races on the first 3 days were light – with a sea breeze averaging 5.5 knots on day 1, 4.5 knots on day 2, and not enough wind to sail on the last day of qualifying. We had sailed well enough to qualify near the top of the top 20 gold fleet. The Mistral breeze had conspicuously gone for the week. The new scoring system had more points up for grabs each day compared to the previous system so the pressure was always on.
Our moving day was the penultimate day of gold fleet, 15 to 22 knots of offshore breeze. Ideal 49er conditions, flat water, huge shifts and pressure variations. Great to stretch the legs after all the light races and head into the last day’s final series with a handy 12 point advantage over the fleet.
60 points were on the line for the finals (3 x double point races for the top 10) with light wind again after a front with lightning and thunder had passed through. A win in the first medal race set us up nicely – but with this format it’s never over till it’s over, so the pressure was always on. A second in the last race sealed the deal. It was an awesome feeling to stand on the top step at the World Championship, our first World title together and the first for either of us since we were juniors.
Our success was capped off by having our kiwi training partners Marcus/Josh finish second and Alex/Molly winning the inaugural Women’s 49er FX world title. A great day for NZ sailing and shows how far the class has come, considering there weren’t any 49ers sailing in NZ 5 years ago.
Huge thanks to our coach Hamish Wilcox.
See link to full video highlights of the 49er Worlds … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Uac1QWtefA&feature=youtu.be
What next? Blair is now enjoying a break at home while Peter has headed to Hawaii where racing starts in the Foiling Moth Worlds on the 14th October http://www.mothworlds.org/hawaii/ – followed by the China Cup then home for a break.
We are both looking forward to competing at Sail Auckland in the 49er and then the A class catamaran Worlds at Takapuna in February.
A very full-on couple of months, stoked with our results. A massive thank you to everyone that has helped us achieve these.
Pete & Blair