Will Tiller and crew win the 2012 NZ Keel Boat Championships.

The 2012 NZ Keel Boat Championships were run on the 3rd & 4th March by Royal Akarana Yacht Club in the one design Farr MRX Fleet.

The fleet had talent a plenty with past winners Andrew Wills, Rod Davis from Team NZ, (with Anthony Leighs from Christchurch), and Phil Douglas, (with Pete Waters), sailing. Add to this Will Tiller’s match racing crew, Benny Butcher, a rising star from the RNZYS Youth Training Scheme, 2007 World Optimist Champion Chris Steele, Alan Quere’s crew from New Caledonia and Scott Illingworth, the current MRX Owner’s Champion, and the stage was well set for a hard fought regatta.

Unfortunately the racing was compressed when a weather bomb hit NZ on Friday night and sailing had to be abandoned on Saturday when South Westerly’s gusted to 40 to 50 knots in the race area for most of the day. Fortunately Sunday brought an ideal shifty 10 to 20 knot South Easterly breeze off the land which provided challenging racing conditions with plenty of passing opportunities in the closely matched fleet.

The Race Committee did very well getting the races away efficiently in the shifty conditions - photo Brad Davies

With just 6 races able to be sailed and the closeness of the fleet, there was intense competition at the starts and mark rounding’s, resulting in a number of protests needing to be resolved before the final placing’s could be settled.

Anthony Leigh looks for a position on the tightly packed startline - photo Brad Davies

Results were evenly spread  with 4 crews sharing the 6 guns. Will Tiller’s crew, however, sailed a stand out series, winning three race and never dropping below 4th place showing a unmatched ability to recover from a poor first lap to finish in the top three. South Island Young 88 Champion Anthony Leighs finished second quickly recovering from a slow start to the regatta. Andrew Wills crew sailed consistently but did not get the breaks this year to finish third.

Andrew Wills leads Scott Illingworth and Will Tiller around the gate mark with protest flags flying - photo Brad Davies

Just 6 points separated the next 5 crews led by Alan Quere’s New Caledonian team who finished fourth in their fourth appearance in this regatta.

Alan Quere's New Caledonian team leads Chris Steele, Anthony Leighs, Scott Illingworth and Benny Butcher round the top mark - photo Brad Davies

Judging by the enthusiasm of the sailors at the BBQ prize giving after racing, the quality of the competitors and the close racing this year should lead to a revival of importance of the NZ Keel Boat championships in NZ’s national keel boat sailing calendar.

Congratulations to Will Tiller's crew, from left, Tom Bentham, Aaron Reynolds, Guy Pilkington, Shaun Mason, Harry Thurston & Will Tiller

Will was delighted with his team’s performance commenting: “This was a good regatta for the boys to get back into the swing of things and warm up for the big year ahead starting with the Congressional Cup, a grade one match race regatta at the end of March in Long Beach, California”.

Will Tiller in action

2012 New Zealand National Keelboat Championship

Royal Akarana Yacht Club - Results as of 15:50 on March 4, 2012

Overall - Sailed: 6, Discards: 1, To count: 5, Entries: 9, Scoring system: Appendix A

Boat  # Nat Skipper Team Name  R1  R2  R3  R4  R5  R6  Total  Nett
(No Name) 1992 William Tiller FMJ Racing 1 1 3 (4) 1 3 13 9
Ovlov Marine / Volvo Penta 2001 Anthony Leighs Medium Dry (7) 2 1 2 3 5 20 13
Touch of Gloss / International Paints 1999 Andrew Wills PG Racing 3 4 2 (7) 4 2 22 15
North Sails 1997 Alan Quere Cercle Nautique Caledonien 5 3 7 (9) 7 1 32 23
Harken 1991 Chris Steele 36 Below Racing (8) 5 8 1 5 4 31 23
Club Marine 1995 Pete Waters X Racer 2 8 6 5 2 (9) 32 23
KPMG 1996 Scott Illingworth OOH Racing 4 6 4 3 (8) 7 32 24
MGE Marine 2000 Benny Butcher YCR 6 (7) 5 6 6 6 36 29
Hall Spars 1998 Edwin Delaat EdwinSail  (9)   9   9   8   9   8   52   43

 For more information contact: Tom Macky, MRX Yachting, Mob 021 679 125,

or Suellen Hurling, Royal Akarana Yacht Club, Ph 09 524 9945.