Mahurangi sailors make comeback statement

The Mahurangi College sailing team is clawing its way back to former glory days after finishing 10th at the Secondary Schools Team Sailing National Championships.

The competition saw 32 teams compete at Algies Bay, from April 21 to 27. Since the competition’s inception in 1984, Mahurangi has placed in the top three of gold fleet 12 times, but a string of poor results since 2015 has seen them far from the podium.

Last year, the team finished in 22nd place, top of bronze fleet but this year they were promoted to gold fleet during the repechage stage. Mahurangi College sailing coach Peter Warden says he is stoked with the best result in his three years of working with the students.

“It was an impressive performance by the team to move from bronze fleet up to gold and come inside the top 10,” Peter says. “The sailors worked really well together and maintained their focus during the long delay periods due to a lack of wind this year.”

Conditions did provide a big challenge for the event organisers, but organising committee member Ross Sutherland says they were pleased with their management of the competition. “With sailing, you are at the mercy of the weather, so we were happy to still get through just over 400 races,” Ross says.

Algies Bay has hosted the event six times, including for the last three consecutive years, and will likely remain the preferred venue.

“The competition brings around $150,000 into the local economy, so there are a lot of places that would like to host it. However, Algies provides one of the cheaper options and also has 25 420 class boats available and a number of support vessels provided by generous members of the community.”

The Mahurangi College sailing team that bagged 10th place, from left, Rhys Niccolls, William Paterson, Devon Warden, Oliver Warden, Finian Taylor, Kate Niccolls and Janelle Milne. Absent, Ben Holland.

Ross also praised the work done by local committee member Gay Noyer, who both organises the event and updates the website with current results for schools to view around the country.

For the second year running, Auckland Grammar School finished first overall, followed by Westlake Boys High School and Christchurch Boys High School. Those three teams will represent New Zealand at the Inter-Dominion sailing competition, at Algies Bay in October, where they will race against the top three secondary school teams from Australia.

Ross says there is also potential for the venue to host a world sailing event in 2021, but talks are in the very early stages.