New Format for New Zealand Match Racing Championship

Published on June 21st, 2016

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) is launching a new format for the 2016 New Zealand Match Racing Championship (NZMRC), which will be held October 12-16 in Auckland, New Zealand.

The new format will see up to 20 teams compete in a fleet racing seeding series on identical Elliott 7 metre keelboats, before moving into a cut throat 16 team knockout Match Racing stage. This format is similar to what is being used at the Americas Cup and on the World Match Racing Tour.

“There are a few reasons why we are doing this,” notes RNZYS Sailing Director Laurie Jury. “The Fleet/Match format is to allow more teams to enter the event, reducing costs which in turn enables us to lower the entry fee.

“The new format also opens up the event to more club teams who may be less experienced at match racing. This is the only event where club sailors will be able to go head to head on an even footing with Olympic medallists, America’s Cup Teams and professional sailors.

“For the match racing stage we have also added a reaching start at the top of the course, which will dramatically change the game making the racing a lot tighter and more competitive.”

The aim of the NZMRC is to have an event where the best sailors in New Zealand can all race no matter which discipline they have trained in, while the upgrade to a World Sailing Grade 2 status ensures that there is enough competition for the campaigning Match Racers.

“The traditional Match Racing teams are all for it,” Jury commented. “Match racing is really about being a diverse sailor. These sailors usually jump into any boat, have one training session and then race against local teams who have been sailing the boats for years.”

Current NZMRC title holder and World Match Racing Tour competitor Chris Steele likes the idea. “I think it’s a cool change and I’m sure everyone’s going to enjoy it. The 36 Below Racing team are really looking forward to coming back and defending our title.”

Echoing many of Jurys comments, Steele went onto explain: “The change in format to fleet racing combined with match racing will really make things interesting and open up the competition to a wider range of sailors throughout the country. The reaching start provides exciting close boat on boat action all the way to the bottom mark before the boats get their first opportunity to split.”

Yachting New Zealand Chief Executive David Abercrombie has thrown his and the national authority’s support behind the change in format. “Yachting New Zealand applauds the RNZYS for thinking outside the box and attempting to reinvent this regatta in an effort to attract more entries and media interest.” Abercrombie has also supported an entry from the NZL Sailing Team and an Aon Fast track development team.

With invitations being sent out over the next few weeks the relaunched NZMRC looks to be the start of something new in New Zealand’s proud match racing History.

Details: http://www.rnzys.org.nz/sailing-events/nzmrc/

Source: Georgia Witt, Sailing Coordinator, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron

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