Sixteen Young 88’s will hit the harbour this weekend (21st & 22nd November) in Auckland for what is going to be a fiercely contested Harken Young 88 National Championship and North Sails Owners Championship combined regatta.
The Young 88 fleet is one of the most competitive one design classes in the country, and that is sure to continue this weekend with an array of talented and experienced sailors competing across various crews.
Raging Hormones is back to defend its title after winning the previous two events in 2018 and 2019, albeit with different skippers. Zane Gifford helmed the boat to glory in 2018, with Andrew Wills taking the reins in 2019, but it is Gifford who is jumping back on the stick this year. Another notable entry is Slipstream III which won the event in 2016 and 2017 and will have Jed Roberts on the helm this weekend. Slipstream III and Raging Hormones have been the success stories in this regatta in recent history, with no other boat winning the title since Jeremy Lomas helmed Flash Gordon to victory in 2014.
An experienced sailor but new to the fleet is Dangerzone owner and skipper Brad Marsh who is very much looking to put his best bow forward this weekend at what will be his first Young 88 National Championship event –
“This is the first time I will helm a Young 88 with a full crew after owning Dangerzone for just over a year now. It will also be the first time helming a keelboat in a National Championship but let’s keep that a secret otherwise everyone will be too scared to line up on the start line, and justifiably so!”
“My crew have a big task to do but they are very good friends and experienced sailors, their sailing resumes read like wizards scrolls but we have not sailed a minute together yet, so the magic formula is not perfected… I am looking forward to a great weekend of racing amongst good sailors and good friends. The boats to beat will be Mindbender and Raging Hormones and we hope that we can keep them honest as much as possible.”
Young 88 Class President and War Machine skipper Mike Leyland has put a lot of work into the class over the years, behind the scenes and on the water, and after a false start earlier this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, he is very much looking forward to seeing the reformatted event go ahead in true Young 88 fun on and off the water style –
“Getting the Nationals rescheduled from March has required compromise all round and thanks to the sponsors, participants, RNZYS and volunteers for making “take 2” happen. We lost four entries from March that could not make the new date but it’s great that we have maintained a large and competitive fleet of sixteen. Like usual we have sailors ranging from some of NZ’s and the world’s best talent, seasoned Young 88 “weekend warriors” and a couple of crews new to the fleet. One of the great things about one design is that no matter where you are there is always someone to race. Unfortunately, we won’t have Jim Young on the water watching his “babies” this year, but he will definitely be there in spirit and we will be sure to raise a toast to honour his brilliant design.”
This weekend’s format is a little different to the normal, as Leyland explains –
“There is a full program once again on and off the water with a skippers briefing Friday night, a crew party including grinding competition and the now famous Mount Gay chilly bin spot prize draw on Saturday night, and prizegiving dinner Sunday night. The sailing format has been changed with three main race areas available for the Race Officer to choose from depending on weather, and also includes an ‘around the cans’ race at the end of each day back to the club.”
There will be a very experienced Race Management team led by Celia Carson running the show, as well as a very accomplished team of umpires led by Chief Umpire John Rountree.
The first warning signal will sound at 0955hours on Saturday morning, and again racing will commence at the same time on Sunday.
With up to eight races scheduled there will be plenty of opportunity for some incredibly tight and exciting racing across both days, and as with any one design racing, it’s anyone’s guess who will come out on top and be crowned 2020 Harken Young 88 National Champion and North Sails Owners Champion on Sunday.