Explore NZ’s Auckland Operations Manager Raynor Haagh, jetted off to Busan South Korea earlier this month to compete in the 2013 Women’s Match Race Championships. Raynor’s account of events is an interesting insight into the professional sailing scene…
While the rest of us were taking it easy over the long Queens Birthday weekend, Raynor’s team, skippered by NZ Olympic sailor Susannah Pyatt, made its way to Busan, South Korea.
The event started with an official opening ceremony, and great pomp and ceremony, at the Ballroom of the Grand Hotel complete with obligatory ice sculpture fittingly in the form of a yacht. The formality of this occasion is an indication of the level of support behind major international sailing events like this with many representatives from Busan City attending, including the Mayor, as well as local politicians and members of the Busan and Korea Sailing Federations and organising body ISAF.
For the team members this was a great chance to network, an important part of the professional sailing scene, it also gave them a chance to regroup as a team and meet the competition before racing began.
Racing started early the following day on the scenic Haeundae beach on Busan’s waterfront. For Ray and Team Susannah, the first round robin of races were slow starters and unfortunately they lost every race except the final one of the day.
The conclusion of the day’s races was marked by a flyover of Korean Airforce planes. While these planes caused a moment of anxiety and a stir amongst the crowd, it was not North Korea coming to crash the party, it was all part of the show and the beginning of the Memorial festival celebrations for the next day.
On South Korea’s celebrated Memorial Day the team made it in early to race headquarters, grabbing the chance to get a free massage before racing began again. Better results today from the second round robin, those massages must have helped, coming through ranked 6th out of 9 teams. A great position to head into the quarter finals with.
Unfortunately their performance in the quarter finals did not give them a chance to move up the ranks. Matched against Team Camilla, the defending champions who went on to place second, they were not able to make any gains and their placing slipped back to 7th.
In the final tally up the team came in 7th overall after the final days racing and race off for 5th-8th placing was cancelled due to high winds. 7th place a reasonably good effort from a team who hadn’t had training time together prior to the series, up against a selection of Olympic sailors including the 2012 Gold medallists, who ended up taking out the title.
Raynor and team would like to say a big thank you to sponsors who helped them get there including RNZYS, Cafe Royal, NZ Sailing, KPMG and of course Explore NZ. Explore NZ loves to get behind this type of group promoting sailing to the world, and all the more relevant when a part of the team is part of the Explore NZ family.