Youngster pips veteran in tight A-Class races

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2013
A-Class
IAIN McGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ
SPEEDY: Mike Drummond almost leaves the water during the A-Class Catamaran National Championship on Lyttelton Harbour yesterday.

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Christchurch's Murray Philpott has lost count of how many A-Class national sailing championships he's won.

"Ten or 11," he guessed yesterday as he prepared his catamaran for day two of the 2013 national championships at Lyttelton's Naval Point Yacht Club.

But there is challengers to Philpott's crown - and one 29 years his junior.

After Monday's opening two races and three more yesterday, Olympic silver medallist Blair Tuke, 23, was leading the 13-boat fleet.

Tuke had picked up four wins - all with Philpott one spot behind him - before Philpott reversed the result in yesterday's final race.

Another youngster, Philpott's 19-year-old son, Daniel, sits third after five of 12 races were completed. The regatta continues until Friday.

The first two days weren't nearly as successful for four-time America's Cup winner Mike Drummond.

Drummond, who was admitted to the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 2010 in recognition for his achievements in design, and finished sixth at last year's world championships in Florida, was struggling in fifth after two days.

A breakage on day one was trumped by a capsize yesterday, though by the end of the regatta the sailors drop their two worst results so Drummond is expected to move up the field.

Tuke may be the young buck trying to knock off the old stag, but Philpott Sr is a big deal around the Naval Point Yacht Club.

While the man himself may not have been quick to brag about his achievements in New Zealand and further abroad, his mates were.

One proudly informed The Press Philpott is the current Grand Master World Champion having finished fifth overall at the worlds in Florida last November.

His age, 52, qualifies him for the Grand Master section.

Tuke finished 19th at the same event, winning the world junior crown, though he has a long way to go to catch Philpott.

As well as last year's fifth, he's also picked up a second, a third, another fifth, a sixth and a seventh overall at the worlds.

"I've missed fourth, I haven't got a fourth," he said.

Or a first, but at 52, he's not sure the body will allow a genuine chance at that, even if the 2013 Worlds are on Auckland's more familiar waters.

Tuke, who had Olympic success with Peter Burling in the 49er class, was loving racing his own boat, but said he and Burling would still race together in the future.

"This is a really fun event to be involved in," he said.

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"A-Class is an awesome class to up my skills with. I'm still learning. A lot of these guys have done plenty of great things in sailing and there's a lot to learn from them.

"Murray Philpott goes really fast in these [windy] conditions, probably the fastest in the world, so to be beating him is great."

Both Philpott and Tuke said the change to multihull boats for the America's Cup was breathing life back into multihull classes right down to club level.

"[The class] didn't really lead anywhere. Now, with the America's Cup, if you sail in one of these, it teaches you a lot of the skills you'll need if you were to go through to that."

AT A GLANCE

Standings after five of 12 races: Blair Tuke — Kerikeri Cruising Club 6, Murray Philpott — Naval Point Club 9, Daniel Philpott — Naval Point Club 18, Dave Shaw — Nelson Yacht Club 30, Mike Drummond — Wakatere Boating Club 33, Bruce Curson — Wakatere Boating Club 35, John Kennett — Naval Point Club 35.

- The Press

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