Thursday, 28 April 2011

NZ Toyota Optimist Nationals - Day 5 (Final Day)

Leonard Takahashi-Fry of Murrays Bay Sailing Club and Wakatere Boating Club wins

by Christine Hansen

The Open fleet Championship has been won by Aucklander 12 year old Leonard Takahashi-Fry of Murrays Bay Sailing Club and Wakatere Boating Club. Leonard drew ahead of his competitors by sailing a very consistent series, with only one race outside the top ten placings. It's a meteoric rise for the young sailor, who placed around 80th at the Optimist Nationals at Whitianga last year.

Leonard's began sailing at Murrays Bay SC and his first Optimist National Championship was two years ago at Worser Bay in Wellington when he was in the Green fleet. In 2010 he joined the NZ Sailing Academy based out of Narrow Neck Beach and spent the year attending several international events. In 2011 Leonard also became a member of Wakatere BC, since January he has been training twice weekly after his school day is done, as well as on Saturday and Sunday with World Optimist Champion and coach Chris Steele, along with training partners Markus Somerville and Tim Adair.

Leonard is also involved in a number of other sports including athletics, basketball, and has National titles in Ballroom and Latin dancing.

In second place is Isaac McHardie of Hamilton/Tauranga who also sailed a consistent series, earlier this year Isaac won the prestigious Tanner Cup representing the province of Waikato; and in third place is local Wakatere BC sailor Markus Somerville who competed at the Worlds last year. Takahashi-Fry, McHardie and Somerville make up the 2011 New Zealand Optimist World Championship team along with fourth placed William McKenzie of Kohimarama YC and fifth placed Nathaniel Deverell of the Bay of Islands.

The series concluded with three races beginning later in the day as a mark of respect for ANZAC day and the full quota of 14 races scheduled for the series were sailed. The race committee was headed by Napier's Gerald Martin, his team from Napier and Mike Drummond, Grant Beck and Derek Snow of Wakatere Club, who all worked very hard over five days to achieve this as this regatta is the largest single class regatta in New Zealand with 310 boats racing, it is the selection regatta for the New Zealand World Championship Optimist team, and it has also been used as a test run for the 2011 World Championship to be held in Napier at the end of this year.

On the final day conditions were wet, with moderate north easterly winds coming onshore which gusted up to 18 knots as rain squalls blew through. With the outgoing tide the sea whipped up into a one metre chop typical of the inner harbour. Eleven year old Blake Nicholson, first-time open fleeter from Murrays Bay, confirmed that the tide was a dominant factor throughout the regatta. At times it was quite difficult to find a space on the start line, especially with 65 boats, as the tide was pushed the boats towards a particular end of the line.

The prize-giving was attended by a huge crowd of sailors and friends: we were lucky enough to once again have role model and sailing hero Dean Barker to hand out the prizes; legendary sports commentator Peter Montgomery was also kind enough to MC; Mike Drummond not only helped on the race course but also awarded the top sailors a trip on Oracle's AC45; past NZIODA president Nigel Rippey handed over his role to Leslie Egnot and spoke of his involvement in the World Championship coming up in Napier at the end of this year.

We would like to thank all those who helped make the regatta possible - there are too many to name - and, in particular, Wakatere BC members working on the beach on and on the water, sponsors, parents, supporters and most importantly, all of those sailors who were such a delight to work with.

For full results go to
Wakatere Boating Club