Yacht racing at its finest

A special sponsors morning on February 3 showcased the new LaserPerformance Z420 sail boats, and gave youth program sailors a chance to try them out on the water. Photo – Michael Jeans.

The Cambridge Yacht Club kickstarted its newly-structured youth sailing programme last week, utilizing its new LaserPerformance Z420 sail boats.

A special morning was held on Sunday, February 3 to thank the ten local businesses that have sponsored the new Youth 420 programme, and the first lesson for the season got underway on February 5.

“The first session went really well, with all the sailors being introduced to the boats,” said Chris Raynes, Cambridge Yacht Club commodore, adding that the youngsters had quite enjoyed sailing the new “bullet proof” 420s.

The Cambridge Yacht Club is the first club in New Zealand to bring the boats into the country.

“We opted for college boats out of the United States,” Chris explained. “They’re 15kg-20kg heavier than the standard hull but designed to take the bump and grinds. They’re bullet proof.

“With 15-minute races and close-quarter racing, contact is inevitable.”

More than 20 high school children have signed up for the new programme, and around half of them were new to sailing. The boats, which have a life span of about 15 years, is much longer than alternate boats of a similar design.

A decision to buy the boats was made about 12 months ago, and $85,000 was raised from community trusts to cover the purchase. Then local businesses jumped on board to subsidize both the new 420 programme and the existing Lean to Sail programme to help make it affordable for every day locals. These include Windsor Nissan, Antony Merrington Real Estate, Amanda Merrington Real Estate, Marinetech, Mitre 10 Cambridge, BTG Electrical, Fresh Choice Leamington, Van Dyks, Vetora and Vickers Aircraft Company.

Chris said the focus for the club this year was on developing the skills of the new sailors, with plans to send one or two high school teams to regional and national competitions.

A team of sailors from Cambridge High School graduated to the silver fleet at last year’s national team racing championships, and, while some of those sailors have finished school, most of them have returned to coach the group helping to usher in another new era of success.

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