More than 70 entries have already been received from international sailors for the 2019 O'pen Bic world championships to be sailed at Manly, north of Auckland, in the New Year period.
As many as 127 sailors had already registered for the event when early bird entries closed last week, with more than half coming from overseas. On top of that, 61 had entered the under-13 division and 66 the under-17s.
The timing of the UP Real Estate O'pen Bic World Championships from December 23-January 4 (competition starts on December 30) makes it difficult for many internationals, particularly those from Europe who have only short breaks from school over the Christmas and New Year period, which is why organising committee chairman and Manly Sailing club vice commodore Harold Bennett is so encouraged by the numbers so far. About 150 competed at this year's world championships in Barcelona.
“We are in pretty good shape for a good event,” he said. “It's a long way to come for a junior regatta so I have to applaud those kids and their families coming down. To get somewhere around 70 from overseas is a pretty good achievement.”
Many have competed at the O'pen Bic world championships previously but the event will be missing a couple of past world champions with 2017 under-13 winner and Manly local Mattias Coutts focusing on different classes and 2017 under-17 champion Sean Herbert now too old.
“This opens it up for others and makes it a great opportunity for other New Zealand and offshore kids to step up,” Bennett said. “If there's anyone sitting on the fringes wondering if they are good enough or not, it's worth a shot. It's on your back yard. There can't be a better way to learn, racing in a competition like that.”
Practice racing will be take place on December 27-28, with the regatta set down for December 30-January 4.