Five junior NZ Sailors went to Noumea, New Caledonia for training and to compete in the New Caledonia Youth Windsurf racing Competition.
French Olympic RS:X sailor, Sam Launay and Manu Goyard hosted a fantastic clinic. The skills learnt from the fast New Caledonians will stand them in good stead for the rest of the NZ sailing season. They have learnt rig tuning, sub planning and planning modes, mark roundings. There have been plenty of practice races. Also a destination sail around Lle Uere. The locals do love their siestas around lunch time and usually don't get on the water until 2pm. Usually coinciding with a 15-25kts sea breeze on flat water. The ACPV club has fantastic facilities with lockers for boards and rigs. Most Techno Sailors here have access to the adopted French Federation one design RRD 'Firerace' 120l slalom board. This they sail with a two cambered sail or techno rig. Very fast.
Racing Friday through to Sunday with up to six races a day. 14 year old Murrays Bay sailor Patrick Haybittle has been on his fourth sailing visit to New Caledonia and second time attending the windsurfing Nationals. He has previously won the New Caledonia Optimist Dinghy competition in 2010. A double in a different class would be special. His 12 year old sister Carmen, 14 year olds, Fenella Bowater, Naval Point and Coral Headey, Tauranga and 11 year old William Clough from Wakatere are on their first overseas trip as competitors. Also on the same body of water the New Caledonian Match Racing competition. Chris Steele and his RNZYS Team are competing against the Aussies and New Caledonians.
On Day 2 of competition, the Bic Techno course outside the ACPV club included blast reaching! These races consisted of an upwind and two reach marks about kilometre apart, followed by another upwind and same again. The first race was shortened and finished at the top mark. From here a double points, destination, longer race was carried out. A big upwind between two islands and out to a reef about 1km upwind. Then a 2km downwind through the start-line as a gate and then the one kilometre reaches and finish.
Patrick Haybittle started the day in fourth place one point adrift of equal placed second and third. 16 year old Nicolas Goyard (younger brother of Tomas Goyard and current ISAF RS:X youth world champion.) has had a dominant regatta. Only giving away one bullet to Patrick and one to New Caledonian Damien Cervera.
During the big destination race Haybittle held second place at the top mark but was found wanting when they headed downwind at a great rate of knots. The New Caledonias proved their downwind speed and ability to sail lower angles. Once into the reaching sections Haybittle was able to claw back but not enough. Ended up third in the race putting him into third overall.
This set up an exciting afternoon of nerve racking slalom racing in 23-27kts of wind. The course favored Patrick by omitting true downwinds. Haybittle used his dinghy racing skills to get consistent running starts on speed at the favored end. Goyard used his heavier build to hold a more powerful sail setup. Haybittle used his height as leverage. In the two afternoon races they both shot out to an early lead and extended throughout the race. It was astounding to see how fast they sailed with boards skittering across the chop with rigs raked to the deck and fully sheeted on and over the sailors.
Haybittle's two second place races had him overtake local sailor Cervera and into a hard fought second place. All the other Kiwi sailors on their first windsurfing trip learnt heaps about speed sailing. Special note was seeing William Clough of Wakatere being the first 6.8m sailor to the top mark of the destination race. Also to Coral Headey, Carmen Haybittle and Fenella Bowater coming first, second and third girls. They all showed true character and stamina for giving every race a go in trying conditions. They all hope their sport will continue in the Olympic Games. Vive Windsurfing!
All the Kiwis have thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality of the French. They truly have unmatched waters for sailing. Warm trade winds, sheltered waters and fast sailors. A true breeding ground of champions. We are lucky that Kiwis have a such a great relationship with the French in the South Coral Sea.