North Sails LOFT NEWS


The summer season might be over, but the hard work is just beginning for a pack of young Optimist sailors — and the team at North Sails.

The Optimist nationals were held at Easter, at the Napier Sailing Club, but now the top competitors are preparing for a range of international competitions to be held over the coming months. North Sails One Design manager Derek Scott says several sailors will be looking for new sails to take with them to the Worlds in Thailand in July, and to the IODA Asian, North American and European championships over winter.

Winning the nationals, and heading the national rankings with a clean sweep of all four ranking events this summer, is Seb Menzies from Murrays Bay Sailing Club, who uses a North cross-cut MZX4 sail. Menzies will now compete in the Optimist Worlds in Thailand in July, along another sailor using a North sail, George Lee Rush of Wakatere Boating Club. Rush, who uses a radial cut main, finished sixth Kiwi and fourth equal in the rankings.

Joshua Hyde, also from Wakatere and using a radial North sail, finished ninth Kiwi at the nationals and sixth equal in the rankings, so has qualified to compete at the IODA North American champs, in Toronto in late June–early July.

Slightly older youth sailors also got their chance to compete at Easter, at the Starling national championships at Wakatere, on Auckland’s North Shore. Around 100 skippers competed in this prestigious event, with Torbay Sailing Club’s Sean Herbert winning the regatta in the final race, over the home club’s Luke Cashmore, with Oliver Cowley of Worser Bay third.

“It was a really challenging regatta,” says Scott. “Conditions just got lighter and lighter, until the last couple of races in the finals had to be called off.”

And at the 420 national championships, the top crew was Robbie McCutcheon and Jono Weston from Wakatere, who sailed very consistently over 12 races to take the title at Wellington’s Evans Bay. Both McCutcheon and Weston and the second-placed crew (and female champions), Xanthe Copeland and Annabel Cave, use North sails, as do many other boats in the fleet.

A large fleet of Etchells turned out for their nationals in Auckland, with Lincoln Fraser the top Kiwi in second behind Australian Martin Hill, and North Sails sales manager Andrew Wills and his crew third on countback. “Again, pretty much that whole fleet has North sails,” says Scott.

In the Pied Piper nationals held at Milford in early April, Sam Marshall and his crew on Motamouse, with the aid of old hands Alastair Gair, Jayson Herbert and Tom Kerney. Motamouse had a brand new North jib for the regatta, which Marshall said was “a weapon upwind. North just nailed the new design.”

Skiff racers using North sails also rounded off their season with some great results. Ben de Fluiter and his new crew Rod Chave, sailing One and In, won the 12 footer nationals in mid-March.

“Both Ben and Rod work for North Sails, so they have spent a lot of time working on their wardrobe and getting the sails just right,” says Scott. “They’ve got four different rigs, so there’s lots of potential for sail development.”

The team on 18 foot skiff Yamaha, skippered by David McDiarmid, recovered from their disappointment at the JJ Giltinan series in Sydney to take out the Anzac Championship in late April, ahead of C-Tech, skippered by Alex Vallings, and US sailor Howie Hamlin, on Harken. All three of the top boats carried North wardrobes.

In other results for boats with North sails, James Sandall won the Ross 780 nationals in Strait Enz with a full wardrobe of North sails; Anne Hirst won the Magic 25 nationals at Taupo; and Hamish Hall-Smith of French Bay Yacht Club won the Jollyboat nationals at Howick, after earlier finishing second in the 3.7 nationals and fourth at the R class Leander Trophy series.

“It just goes to show what a wide range of classes we are involved with, and how many sailors we are helping to find success,” says Scott. “Now it’s back to the loft to start working on the sails for next year.”

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