Well firstly, thanks to everyone that competed, helped or supported sailors at the Radial Worlds. It was a fantastic event which ran smoothly and was a credit to everyone involved, even if it has taken Sarah and me three months to recover enough to produce a Kiwi Laser! To see so many of the world’s best sailors here was a privilege and I must admit that it was tough going back to work after spending two very enjoyable weeks with such a fantastic team during the Worlds. I was talking to one of the international judges at the prize giving and asked if he had any suggestions for future events. His comment was just to bottle it to reuse each year!
The contests provided an unequalled opportunity for a large number of our sailors to compete in a regatta at world level, and I hope that this has provided a great base for the continued growth of the class in years to come. Financially, the contest was a success for NZLA and a special thanks to Colin and TV3 for their support in providing such fantastic sponsorship.
The Radial Worlds were clearly the highlight of the season for the class in NZ but we should not forget that we also had many other notable moments. The largest ever, and extremely successful, Laser Nationals in Taupo, 50 New Zealand sailors competing in the Masters Worlds in Terrigal and three new World Champions!
But enough about the last season; regardless of its success. We now have our sights set firmly on the coming season and are looking to build on last year’s successes with a restructured program of NZ regattas. Last year’s Terrigal and Radial Worlds dominated the season’s program and resulted in several unusual timing issues with our NZ regattas. We believe that some of the changes proved to be successful and should be retained, whereas others can be revisited so that we can establish a better distribution of regattas throughout the season. We are also working with YNZ and the new international and Australian programs, as well as looking to introduce some new regattas and initiatives. These are aimed at providing the best possible season for everyone, from new youth sailors to our international sailors and our large masters fleet.
As announced in Taupo, the 2009 Nationals will be in New Plymouth at the end of January; the NOR for this will be published shortly. We have chosen to retain the late January timing used last year as we believe that holding the regatta in the school holidays allows more sailors to compete, but the regatta this year will consist of only four days of sailing instead of five as we feel that this is the best compromise between the requirements of the various groups that compete. New Plymouth should provide exciting and challenging sailing, and because the Nationals will also be a NZ selection regatta for many international events, including the future Master’s Worlds (see below), we hope to again attract large fleets for all divisions. We will again provide the top 4.7 sailor at the Nationals with the prize of a trip to the Worlds, and will be looking to support teams to the Radial Youth, Radial and Open Worlds as well.
The NI champs will again be held in Taupo in early December and we have arranged for Ian Clouston to be the PRO this year, which should hopefully provide a repeat of the top notch regatta that we all enjoyed at last years Nationals. I understand that arrangements are again underway for the SI champs in December. The Auckland champs will be held in March this season to provide a late season feature regatta and we will be using a series of regattas through the season to select sailors for the European Championships, which we hope will ensure that we see plenty of our top sailors competing at NZ regattas.
We will be upgrading the regatta program page on the website to reflect all the major regattas and would be pleased to include any appropriate regattas from around the country, so please email Sarah with details of your regatta to ensure it is posted.
Recently, a major issue for ILCA has been the outstanding success of the Master’s Worlds, with more sailors wishing to compete than can be accommodated at the available venues. They have therefore moved to address the resulting issues by making the Master’s Worlds an allocated event from 2009 in Canada onwards. This will require NZLA to have a ranking and allocation policy for masters, which is not simple when you consider that there are potentially 11 separate groups within the Masters including Standard rig, Radial rig and Women in 4 different age groups! The ILCA allocation policy is principally aimed at avoiding the fleet being swamped by sailors from the host country before overseas sailors have a reasonable chance to enter and therefore we hope that all NZ sailors wishing to compete in the Masters worlds will be able to get places allocated but this is not guaranteed. We are in the process of preparing a range of proposals on masters ranking and will shortly email proposals to all masters members for comment.
Congratulations to our new world champions Andy Maloney, Mark Orams and Gill Waiting for fantastic efforts in their respective events and best of luck to Jo and Andrew for the Olympics.
Thanks again for your continuing support of the class, and I expect to see you on the water for another enjoyable and challenging season of Laser sailing.
Laser sailors can multi task - Don McGlashan entertaining us with some fabulous music at the Worlds closing ceremony.