Chris Steele (NZL) has won the Splash World Sailing Championships raced this week off Takapuna in Auckland, New Zealand. Declan Burn (NZL) takes silver, and Ben Lutze (NZL), bronze – making it the sixth time in ten years that New Zealanders have won the world championship.
The talented 17-year old is a member of Wakatere Boating Club in Auckland’s North Shore, and is in his final year of high school. This is his second world championship title in sailing – he also won the Optimist World Championships in 2007.
“It’s a great feeling, every bit as good as the first one,” he says.
Beating 73 sailors from twelve countries, including European and Pacific nations, was the result of strategic, consistent sailing: Chris stayed as close as possible to the top sailors on days when the conditions were heavy and didn’t suit him, and notched up mostly first and second places on the lighter days when they did suit him.
His rivalry with close friend and second placegetter Declan Burn was a factor in his success. Declan won the Splash World Sailing Championships in 2009 when they were held in Wales, and the pair pushed each other hard on the racecourse this week. “It was a dogfight today between me and him,” says Chris.
2008 World Champion Ben Lutze from Taipa took third place and the bronze medal.
18-year old Laura Hemingway, representing Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club, secured the women’s title, finishing 20th overall in the fleet, on 144 points. Ina K. Berensten Kullmann (NOR), on an exchange program in Auckland, was second, on 175 points, and reigning champion Nienke Reina Jorna (NED) third on 175 points.
This is Laura Hemingway’s last regatta in the Splash Class. The law student was fourth girl when she competed in the event in 2008 in Portugal, and she was able to secure consistent top-20 results to deliver her final prize. “It’s a really good feeling, you know you’ve excelled,” she says of the victory.
New Zealand won the Nations Trophy for the second year in a row. New Zealanders have been world champions in the class in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2009.
The Silver Fleet was won by Wouter Hufen (NED), with David Turney (NZL) second and Louise Maes (BEL) third.
New Zealand Splash Class President Helen McKenzie thanks all of the competitors, parents, helpers and volunteers who made the event possible.
“The last week at Takapuna Beach has been marvellous. A huge number of volunteers have made the event run smoothly and the setting and weather have been perfect for a world championship regatta.”
The Splash Dinghy is a fast, modern single handed dinghy designed for sailors under the age of 19. Favoured for its ability to build confidence in mostly teenage sailors, the boat is a step up from the Optimist, and a precursor and training vessel for the Laser class raced by both men and women at the Olympic Games.
Takapuna Boating Club organised the Splash World Sailing Championships, with support from North Shore City Council, SPARC, The Lion Foundation, Victoria Cruising Club and Yachting New Zealand.
The best spot for viewing is the beachfront reserve around Takapuna Boating Club on Takapuna Beach, where boats will be readied and launched from the beach each morning, or on the waters between Takapuna Boating Club and Rangitoto Island, from the first start at 11am.
Full results are posted on Takapuna Boating Club’s website - www.takapunaboating.org.nz