RS:X WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – PRACTICE RACE
Practice race under sunny skies
Weeks and months of organization and preparation for the 2008 RS:X World Championships were tested today as windsurfers took to the water for the first organized race of the regatta – the practice race.
The scheduled one o’clock start for the practice race was delayed slightly as race officials reset the start line after a slight change in wind direction. Generally conditions at Takapuna were excellent with a warm, sunny day and a constant eight knot breeze from the north east.
Most of the 200 competitors took the opportunity provided to test equipment and conditions. Results of the practice race do not count and many who chose to start the practice race didn’t complete the course choosing to come ashore and rest before the start of competition tomorrow.
The first race of the regatta is scheduled to start at midday tomorrow [Sunday] and two races will be sailed if conditions allow. The forecast is for six to ten knots of breeze from the north east and a predicted air temperature high of 22 degrees.
The practice race is also a chance for race officials and event organizers to ensure that they are thoroughly prepared for the week of racing ahead. A team of volunteers successfully trialed the exciting mark rounding and scoring system which allows immediate on-line publication of placings and standings for the first time at an event like this.
Free pasta meals and a massage tent are available to those competing and many made the most of this as they came ashore.
North Shore City locals who filled Takapuna Beach and the surrounding reserve enjoying a summer Saturday afternoon at the beach were treated to the spectacle of dozens of international windsurfers preparing on the grass, launching off the beach and later returning.
Windsurfers mark passing of New Zealand legend
Windsurfers in Takapuna for the 2008 RS:X World Championships today marked the passing of New Zealand legend Sir Edmund Hillary by flying black ribbons from their sails.
The entire New Zealand team of 22 sailors will have the black ribbons attached to the top batten of their sails as they head out on to the water for today’s practice race. Sailors from around another 20 countries will also fly the back ribbon as a mark of respect for the famous New Zealander.
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By: Jodie Bakewell-White
Young talent – big ambitions
At just 16 years old Josh Nixon, from Takapuna Boating Club is the youngest rider in the men’s fleet at this RS:X World Championship.
To prepare Nixon has given up his formal schooling choosing to complete the year by correspondence and maximising his on the water training time. Fortunately for Josh, he has the support and encouragement of his family in this decision.
Nixon was New Zealand’s RS:X representative at the 2007 ISAF Sailing Youth World Championships sailed in July last year in Kingston, Canada where he finished a respectable 7th place in a fleet of 21. It was on his return to New Zealand from Canada that he decided to pull out of school and focus on his RS:X training.
“I came home and decided I wanted to give the 2008 World Championships in New Zealand a good crack,” explains Nixon.
“I joined correspondence school to finish my NCEA Level 2 qualifications, which means that I do school work with a tutor every morning and windsurf in the afternoon. My school tutor is very flexible and she fits in around my training times, which usually means that I am at her house at seven in the morning – it is so early that I have to bring her coffee each morning.”
“The deal with Mum and Dad is that we review everything on a six monthly basis. If I am not putting the work in at the gym, on the board and with my studies then I have to go get a job. If my sailing results don’t keep on improving then I will get a job and become a weekend warrior.”
“I believe that focussing on my windsurfing was the best decision that I made during 2007, but the person I ought to thank is my Mum as she was the one who went against her instinct and let me leave. It takes a truly special Mum to do that.”
“Over the last couple of months I have been lucky enough to train with some of the top sailors in the world thanks to Tom Ashley. In these past months I have also become fitter, stronger and grown as a person.”
Stepping into the highly competitive world of Olympic class sailing at 16 years of age is a challenge that Nixon is prepared to rise to, setting himself some realistic goals for the future.
“Since I left school my windsurfing has become three times better than it was, however it has made me realise how good the top guys are,” says Nixon. “Competing in this open world event at Olympic level where a good proportion of the fleet are 10-15 years older and more experienced will provide a good base for me to work from. I know it will take another three to four years to get to their level, but I will take it one year at a time.”
“My goal is to have some good races that are just ‘blinders’, just to prove that I can get up there and compete with the good guys and also I would like to be the third best New Zealander behind Tom [Ashley] and JP [Tobin].”
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