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420 Worlds Selection Trials Kick off Saturday

Thursday 14 December 2006

420 Worlds Selection Trials Kick off Saturday

New Zealand’s top 420 sailors will sail this weekend for a place in the New Zealand team to compete at the 420 World Championships starting in Takapuna on 3 January.

Seven open, and seven women’s crews will be selected at a four day regatta which starts this Saturday and finishes next Tuesday, at Takapuna, North Shore City. Only those eligible to sail for New Zealand can take part in the trials. A further fourteen remaining spots for New Zealand will be decided at a pre-Worlds regatta to be sailed between Christmas and New Year.

Current World Champions, Carl Evans and Peter Burling from New Zealand, have automatic entry to the World Championships regatta, however anyone else wanting to represent New Zealand has to earn their place through the selection process. Including Burling and Evans, a total of 29 New Zealand crews can take part with fifteen spots in the Open World Championship and fourteen in the Women’s World Championship.

Interest is high in the women’s fleet where Laser Radial sailor Jo Aleh is trying her hand at double-handed sailing to take part in this international regatta in home waters. Aleh is sailing with Olivia Powrie, also a Radial sailor, but a former New Zealand youth representative in the 420.

“After sailing the Radial for so long is great to sail something different, the 420 is a fun boat, and with such big fleets in NZ the racing is great,” says Aleh. “I am really enjoying the 420, and it’s even better as I am sailing with another Radial sailor, so we tend to think more alike and are not afraid of working hard. After the Radial the 420 is more of a thinking boat and is a bit less physical.”

“Having the Worlds at Takapuna is just awesome; it will be great to compete in a world event without leaving home,” says Aleh.

“The Italians that are coming are very strong,” notes Aleh, talking about the competition. “The team that took bronze at this year’s Worlds is travelling to Takapuna, as well as teams from France, GBR and Australia; there will be some great competition in the women’s fleet.”

Best placed women’s crew from New Zealand at the World’s in Spain just six months ago was former Olympian Shelley Hesson sailing with 13 year old Bianca Barbarich-Bacher. However, the Aleh and Powrie pairing have proven their adaptability already, placing first women at the Sir Peter Blake Memorial regatta at Torbay last weekend. Hesson and Barbarich-Bacher were close behind them.

Former New Zealand Youth representatives Sarah Bilkey and Rosie Sargisson were also high in the fleet at last weekend’s regatta, and will no doubt be competitive again at the selection trials.

Great Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Italy have already selected their teams to sail at Takapuna. The Australian team includes Australian National Champions Sam Kivell and Max Taylor from Victoria, who won silver at the ISAF Youth World Championships this year.

Around 125 boats, including 29 from New Zealand are expected to compete in the 420 World Championships 2007, which takes place over seven days. This means around 250 sailors will be in Takapuna for the event.

The 420 is a two handed sailing dinghy with a strong and highly competitive fleet that has emerged in New Zealand over recent years. There are 56,000 worldwide and the 420 is sailed at school, club, open, national and international levels.


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