Organisers of the 2018 AIMS Games Sailing Regatta say young competitors will have to deal with more than just the numbers this year, with the tides set to present a challenge even before they cross the start line.
“We are expecting low and king tides this year,” says co-ordinator of the event for the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club, Leanne Warren.
“The sailors we are dealing with - entry level Opti - are going to have to pull some really good sailing skills out of the bag to cope with our four knots of tide.
If there’s low winds, it’ll be about getting them over the start line, because the tide is going to be against them.
”The sailing side of the event has grown since Yachting NZ approached the club for its support in running the AIMS Games Regatta four years ago.
In the first year, about 70 boats gathered at the start line.
Last year, there were 94 entries and the fleet was split for the first time.
“We intend, potentially, to do a three-way split if we get more than 90 boats this year,” says Leanne.
Other organisational issues for the Regatta are timing in winter and the age of the competitors.
The Regatta is run under the standards set down by the New Zealand International Optimist Dinghy Association and the international Rules of Racing.
All competitors have to belong to a club, and be sailing registered craft.
The rules give organisers a measure of control over who competes.
They evaluate the sailors who turn up, gauging their abilities based on where they stack up from other national regattas.
The initial vetting process gives organisers a measure of relative experience for what is a big national competition at a young age.
“They will take the first 20 sailors who have ranking from other regattas and split them to make it even,” says Leanne.
“It’s just random split after that, so we have to spread the skills between the fleets.
“Of those top 20 kids, some of them have been sailing for a couple of years and will have quite a lot of experience.
They are the sailors who will probably go on to overseas regattas in the next year or two.
“They are quite good.
But at the other end of the scale there are the kids who have just started sailing at intermediate level and have only completed one or maybe two regattas.
”It is not a low key entry, says Leanne.
Run under the racing rules, the competitors have to be capable of sailing the course.
They have to have been participating in club racing, or a couple of national level regattas.
“So they need to have had some prior experience at doing regattas to be able to cope with that,” she adds.
“Being a winter regatta, safety needs are paramount because it is cold, so we have to consider that as well.
”The boats that turn up are not measured as they are at a national regatta, but they are scrutineered and the safety requirements are not negotiable.
If the assessors don’t believe the boat is seaworthy, they won’t be allowed to sail, says Leanne.
“The main thing for the kids that are sailing in national regattas already, is this is their opportunity to sail for their school and get recognition for sailing as a sport within their school.
That is what they enjoy.
“In addition, they can group together to win the overall school prize.
Even if they have got a really strong sailor and a less experienced strong sailor, their combined results could actually turn out to be a win.
”The Anchor AIMS Games yachting event is open to students who are in Years 7 and 8 of their schooling, so competitors are typically 11-13 years of age by the time the event is run in early September each year.
Students can place overall in the regatta, or by year and gender and also earn points for their school as a team within the overall results.