Sailors off on third world campaign

SEA CHANGE: Alasdair Daines, left, and Dave Gibb are heading off to the World Flying Dutchman Yachting Championships.
SEA CHANGE: Alasdair Daines, left, and Dave Gibb are heading off to the World Flying Dutchman Yachting Championships.

The boat's already there. Now Alasdair Daines and Dave Gibb are set to embark on their third Flying Dutchman world championship campaign when they head to the United States tomorrow.

The two Nelson sailors qualified for the six-day regatta at the Santa Cruz Yacht Club in California, starting on September 23, after finishing second at the New Zealand national championships in Nelson in February. The top six crews qualified, with Daines and Gibb again pipped for the top prize by former Nelson sailor Andrew McKee, now based in Auckland.

"We've been second for about the last four or five years. We can't quite knock off the big one," Daines said.

They're the only Nelson crew competing in California, the pair having already contested two previous world events in Melbourne in 2003, where they finished 37th, and at Napier in 2008, where they were 22nd.

Their boat was packed off to the United States early last month and Daines said he expected that "a day or so" of practising off the Californian coast should be enough to get the boat running to spec.

"Dave Gibb and I have sailed together long enough that a day or so back in the boat to fine tune a few things should be fine," he said.

"Training for us has been hard, because over the winter, prior to the boats going, Nelson conditions were either no wind or next to no wind, which are not much use to us for training purposes, or far too much [wind]. So really, gym work and physical fitness are the only things we've been able to concentrate on.

"We've got about three or four days when we can get out there and practise and sail before the actual regatta starts, so we'll be doing that to get back into the swing of it, the feel of it, before we get into the serious stuff."

Sailing conditions off California are generally regarded as being among the best with westerly winds of around 15 to 20 knots anticipated for the event. Two races will be sailed on each of the first four days with a reserve day followed by the final race on Sunday, September 30.

Daines said the conditions should suit them just fine.

"They're conditions not too dissimilar from what we get here in Nelson with our sea breeze scenario. We understand, being late September, they'll probably be a little bit lighter. [We're] looking at 12 knots, which would be fine."

He said the world and European champion Hungarian pair of Szabolcs Majthenyi and Andras Domokos were clearly the crew to beat. The Hungarians are chasing their ninth world crown and their third in a row.

"They'll be very hard to beat, they're a class act, they really are," Daines said.

"We'd like to think we'd finish in the top half of the fleet of about 50."