Wakatipu Yacht Club to host national championships

Wakatipu Yacht Club to host national championships

January 8, 2017. For immediate release

Some of New Zealand and the world’s most talented young sailors will head to Queenstown next week for the O’pen Bic New Zealand Open, hosted by the Wakatipu Yacht Club.

The anticipated regatta is set to be Queenstown’s largest sailing event to date and will be held over three days from January 18-20, 2018. O’pen Bic yachts are a junior skiff designed for children and teens aged up to 17 years. It’s a class that is fast gaining popularity in NZ.

Wakatipu Yacht Club commodore John Stalker says the event is expected to attract more than 60 young sailing competitors, some coming from Australia, Hawaii and Bermuda.

“We have some exceptional young talent racing in the event,” he says. “Sailing in general has taken a huge leap forward with NZ’s win in the America’s Cup; the Wakatipu Yacht Club’s learn-to-sail program has grown from 30 kids to 90 this year, with more on waiting lists.

“The O’pen Bic class strives to maintain its high standards of racing but also emphasis the fun factor as we model our events on short races of only 20 minutes and always include a fun-style race at the end of every event. The class is about trying to make sure that all the kids work together and help each other out.”

The O’pen Bic class is heavily supported by Kiwi sailing great Sir Russell Coutts, who will be mentoring the sailors on the water and in between races during the three days of the event.

“Wakatipu is a fabulous place to sail and it’s great to see more junior sailors becoming involved locally,” Coutts says. “Being located amongst the mountains means the wind is often changeable so that helps to teach young sailors how to identify and read wind shifts on the water and it allows them to experience a broad range of conditions. I’m sure the competitors traveling here for the nationals will be impressed with the quality of the sailing conditions and hopefully they will also have a chance to enjoy some the other activities that that this area offers.”

Some of the young New Zealand sailors to watch include Queenstown’s Freddy Wright, Russell Coutts’ son and under-13 world champion Mattias Coutts, as well as New Zealand Open 2017 winner Ahzai Smith from Bermuda, who is returning to defend his title.

Steve McLean of Queenstown’s Rilean Construction, the major sponsor of the O’pen Bic New Zealand Open 2018, says the event represents traditional Kiwi values.

“It was an easy decision to get behind the O’pen Bic New Zealand Open and support the Wakatipu Yacht Club since we believe in giving back to our local community,” he says. “We have sailors on the team at Rilean, so this was a great way to do so.”

The O’pen Bic New Zealand Open is part of the O’pen Bic summer series of events, which kicks off with the annual Wanaka Yacht Club New Year’s Regatta in Wanaka on January 13-14, 2018.


For more information, please contact:
John Stalker, Wakatipu Yacht Club commodore, 021 347 306

Written by Celia Crosbie

Celia is an award-winning journalist who has worked for newspapers and radio stations in New Zealand and magazines in the United Kingdom. She has worked in public relations in both NZ and London. Celia also specialises in digital media strategy and website copywriting for SEO.