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ISAF Grade 1 Regatta marks a new era for Finn sailing

Yachting New Zealand


23 JAN 2013

Upcoming ISAF Grade 1 Regatta marks a new era for Finn sailing in New Zealand

Olympic sailor Andrew Murdoch is switching to the Finn class and 2013 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland, on from 2nd – 5th February, will be his first regatta in the heavyweight single-handed Olympic boat.

It will be an event to watch with Murdoch lining up against the likes of 23 year old Josh Junior and Junior’s training partner in Wellington two-time OK Dinghy World Champion Karl Purdie. All are relative newcomers to the Finn class.

“I have no idea how it’s going to go,” says Murdoch. “I’m really looking forward to lining up against the guys and hopefully some of my skills will transfer across to the Finn.

Meanwhile Dan Slater, New Zealand’s Olympic Finn representative from Beijing 2008 and London 2012, is retiring from campaigning after eight years in the class, making room for the fresh faces.

Both Andrew Murdoch and Josh Junior were among the extremely competitive Laser sailing squad of the NZL Sailing Team during the last Olympic cycle who battled it out for the London Laser spot. Their transition from the Laser to the Finn demonstrates not only a proven Olympic pathway, but also the current strength, depth and adaptability of the NZL Sailing Team.

Recently enlisted to coach the NZL Sailing Team’s Finn sailors is John Cutler, Olympic bronze medallist in the Finn at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. It’s a move the sailors are eagerly anticipating. “It's awesome,” says Murdoch. “To have such an accomplished sailor involved in my program, who has previously medalled in the Finn, is invaluable!”

Having represented New Zealand in the Laser class at the last two Olympic Games, (he placed fifth in both Beijing and London) Andrew Murdoch explains his decision to switch classes after 14 years of Laser campaigning; “The boat really interests me and is great to sail,” he says. “There are some things similar to a Laser but a lot of new things to learn which excites me.”

The change of boat requires Murdoch to increase his body weight, “The Finn is a very physically demanding boat so the weight needs to go on in muscle. The weights room in the gym is now my second home.”

After six years in the Laser Josh Junior made the move to the Finn last year making an impressive debut in the class at 2012 Sail for Gold Regatta, where he placed 19th overall.

“I decided to switch to the Finn almost a year ago. I was outgrowing the Laser and really liked the challenge of switching over to the Finn,” Junior explains. “I struggled a little in the stronger breezes at 2012 Sail for Gold, but still managed to have some fantastic races.”

Junior predicts some close racing at next month’s 2013 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland; “Karl and I have been training a lot together down here in Wellington and he is going really quick. Andrew is very experienced so no doubt he will be near the sharp end of the fleet also. Matt Coutts and the Dutch sailor will round off a quality fleet. I’m buzzing to get out there and start racing.”

Whatever the outcome at 2013 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland the new look Finn fleet will be back on the water again after just a few days for the 2013 Finn National Championship on at Takapuna Boating Club from February 8 – 10. The Takapuna Regatta doubles as selection trials for the 2013 Finn Gold Cup (Finn World Championship) and both Murdoch and Junior are confirmed starters.

Once the domestic regattas are wrapped up the focus for all of the NZL Sailing Team will turn towards the first of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Regattas on in Europe including ISAF Sailing World Cup/Palma, Spain (30 March-6 April) and ISAF Sailing World Cup/Hyeres, France (20-27 April).

About 2013 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland:

Oceanbridge Sail Auckland is New Zealand's only ISAF Grade 1 regatta and is hosted by Royal Akarana Yacht Club in conjunction with other Auckland yacht and sailing clubs. Media wishing to cover 2013 Oceanbridge Sail Auckland will find more information here.

Racing is in all Olympic and Paralympic class boats, and the following invited classes: 420, 29er, OK, 12 foot skiff, Access 303, Access Liberty, Kiteboard racing and more.


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