LARGE NATIONAL SECONDARY SCHOOL EVENT SAILED IN TAUPO DURING HOLIDAYS
This year the Lake Taupo Yacht Club will host the Secondary School Team Racing Nationals, one of the larger sailing events of the year and also one of the larger secondary school sporting events in general. Twenty nine teams will be competing for the honours of best NZ secondary school, as well as the right to represent New Zealand at the Inter Dominions ANZAC Teams Sailing Regatta in Brisbane.
The regatta is a five-day event consisting of racing between teams of three yachts, each with two sailors, against another team of three. The aggregate of the three boats determines the winning team, so it is not necessary to be the first boat across the line. Teams then go on through the week competing against other teams until a national champion is found.
“Many think of the one-on-one match racing as chess on water,” says NZ Team Sailing President Derry Godbert, “but this takes tactics to yet another level. It forces sailors with mixed abilities and skills to work together to out-smart and out-sail their opponents. The races are fast and determined on the spot. Add in the tight courses and it makes for an exciting event”.
The yachts are standardised and teams swap boats after races. Each race is around 5-10 minutes. Umpires follow each race and impose penalty turns on the spot.
Last year’s winning school Kerikeri High School has again entered a strong team. However Yachting New Zealand Regional Support Officer Hamish Hey says to watch out for Westlake Boys they looked impressive winning the recent North Island regional champs. There are some of New Zealand’s top young sailors heading to Taupo for the event. That’s hardly surprising when you consider that many of the sailors representing New Zealand at world class regattas have come through this event. It is one of the strengths behind New Zealand sailing.”
The event also brings out the local rivalrys. Marlbrough Girls will be keen to reverse the close second Marlborough Boys at the recent Top of the South champs. Taupo teams Tauhara College and Taupo-nui-a-Tia College will be fighting for local honours, as well as taking full advantage of their home course.
Lake Taupo Yacht Club Commodore Dean Roe is thrilled with the opportunity to host the event that will bring around 230 sailors and their support crew to town for the week. “The Club is well positioned to cater for large sailing regattas, and the town is geared towards accommodating large numbers. However, a word of warning to those who have a tendency to get off balance – the water is cold,” warns Dean. “However for those less inclined to get wet, this is a spectacular event. The yachts have colourful matched sails, and several races will occur together in a tight course just off the main street of town. We look forward to the Ngati Tuwharetoa welcome on Monday morning and the action-packed week to follow.”
Lake Taupo Yacht Club
07-377-2997 Derry Godbert
NZ Team Sailing Association
027-294-6100 Hamish Hey
NZCT Regional Support Officer
Yachting New Zealand
Background on Secondary School Team Sailing
- Unlike normal fleet yacht racing where competition is for individual placings, team racing involves a team of 3 boats per race (each with 2 sailors) racing another team of 3 boats.
- Using similar modifications to the racing rules of sailing and tactics to Match Racing, the teams try to control the finishing order of boats so that the aggregate score of the team betters their opponent’s.
- Tactics such as covering, dial ups, luffing, mark traps, pass backs make for exciting racing for both competitors and spectators.
- The racing is quick fire, each racing last 5-10 minutes.
- Racing is umpired with 3 umpire boats following each race and imposing penalty turns. There is effectively no appeal process after the race. A race is decided on the water!
- The yachts (420’s) are all standardised in their set up so as to be equal and the teams swap out of boats after each race to ensure no set of boats perform better to any one team’s advantage. The sails are all brightly coloured in team sets, so racing makes an excellent and colourful visual spectacle.
- Races follow a Starboard S Course, always moving to the right from the start, with a windward beat, beam reach, a run, another beam reach, and a beat to a separate finish. Hence at any one time there may be three races spread out over different parts of the race course.
- First discussions and a pilot event sailing Sunbursts in 1981/2 at Wakatere. The first official regatta was in May 1984 and Secondary Schools Yachting Association NZ (now NZ Team Sailing Association) was formed.
- Subsequently an Inter Dominion contest was set up to be hosted alternatively by each country. The NZ Nationals are the trials for the school teams that represent NZ.
- The Country was initially divided into 17 regions, spread fairly evenly from North to South. Only the top teams from each region plus a team from the Cook Islands competed at the Nationals. Three Girl’s regions were added in 1994 bringing the total number of teams eligible at the Nationals to 21. Veteran Race official and Chief Umpire Jim Park and wife Margaret donated a special prize for the Girls.
- The first post school NZ team to go overseas went to Sydney in 1995 to finish 2nd in the Australian Opens. In 1997 most of the sailors in that team went to the ISAF team Worlds in Miami and came fourth. In 1999 and 2001 they went to Ireland and Czech Republic winning gold in each case. In 2003 the ISAF Worlds were held in Auckland and a NZ team came 3rd (at this stage, the current 420s replaced the Sunbursts).
- In 2007, the format was changed to open entry. The only qualification is that a team must attend a regional ranking regatta so as to demonstrate competent handling of the 420s, and assist with ranking the teams into fleets of ability so as to get as much even racing as possible. This raised the team numbers to 32 at one stage. There are 29 entries at Taupo in 2013 from around 45 school teams participating at present. With 8 sailors in each team (6 sailing, 2 reserves), it is one of largest Secondary School events nationally.