Peter Jones

Peter Jones

The victorious Tasman women’s 40 team. Photo: Supplied

Hockey masters on song

The Marlborough contingent at the New Zealand masters hockey tournament staged in Christchurch last week returned with a host of podium placings.

Leading the way were the Tasman women’s 40 team, a combination including Marlborough players Jo Jones, Jules Maltesen, Jo Campbell, Loren Hickin and Tash Veltman. They turned on some inspirational efforts over the course of the six-day event, remaining unbeaten to take out the gold medal. The competition was decided on a round-robin basis, Tasman beating Waikato 2-1, Canterbury 1-0, Manawatu 2-0, Northland 1-0, North Harbour 3-2 and Auckland 5-0. Veltman, with four goals, was equal top scorer.

The Tasman men’s 35 team also put up a strong performance, finishing second after beating Manawatu, Otago, North Harbour and Canterbury on their way to the final, where they went down 2-0 in a replay against North Harbour.  In that side were Marlborough players Mike and Andrew Mitchell, Andrew Nation, Andrew McCaa and Sam McConway.

The Tasman 50 men’s side, including Sandy O’Connell, also picked up silver, beating North Harbour and Auckland, drawing with Wellington and Manawatu, then losing to Canterbury and Wellington (in a final shoot-out).

The fourth Tasman side, the women’s 35s, finished sixth, despite losing just once in the tournament. They managed draws against Auckland, North Harbour and Malvern, beat Counties but went down 3-1 to Harbour in the play-off for 5th and sixth. Abby Scott, Sara Stocker, George Nation and Emma-Rose Allison played for the 35s.

Malcolm King and Matt Hair picked up a bronze medal as part of the Wellington 45 men’s side, who won four and lost two of their games.

Also claiming bronze was the Otago Southland 55 women’s side, with Denise Lloyd, Rosie Lamain and Robyn Rowe on board. They won three, drew one and lost just once.

Nigel Fraser, representing Tauranga 55 men, won a gold medal, his side going undefeated, while John MacKinnon, playing for Auckland men’s 45s, won five games in a row before losing their final to North Harbour and settling for silver.

Falcons’ batsman Tim Petrie drives through the off side. Photo: Peter Jones

Falcons fly highest

The Falcons are the Marlborough one day cricket champions after accounting for their Tasman Premier League rivals, the Dolphins, in a low-scoring encounter on Saturday.

After sharing the honours in their two previous encounters this season the two Marlborough Labour Hire-sponsored sides met at Horton Park with the Grove Tavern Trophy on the line.

The Dolphins won the toss and asked their rivals to bat, making early inroads. After struggling initially at 22-4 the Falcons put together a series of small partnerships as they worked their way towards a modest total of 140 before losing their final wicket in the 36th over. Nick Weaver scored 17, Harrison Boyce hit out lustily for 28 from just 20 balls, then Max Armstrong scored a valuable 15 before Bradley Horton (24 not out) and Joel Pannell (10 from 25) batted positively in an invaluable 37-run partnership for the 10th wicket.

Matt McCormick was the pick of the Dolphins’ attack, bagging 4-22 from 10 overs of accurate medium pace, including dismissing four of the top six batsmen. Akhil Bhardwaj, Prabodha Arthavidu, Jack Walden and Mike Anstis also claimed wickets, with Bhardwaj being particularly economical.

The Dolphins’ run chase was immediately under pressure as Falcons’ opening bowlers Nick Weaver and Matthew Stretch ripped through the top order. Left arm paceman Weaver, who finished with 3-24 from 10, including the key wicket of Arthavidu, and spinner Stretch, 3-22 from 10, combined to restrict their rivals to 6-36, from where they never recovered.

McCormick, batting seven, threatened to take the game away from the Falcons with a hard-hit 27 from 33 balls, but was dismissed by spinner Tim Petrie with the score at 72-8. A patient 18 from 66 balls from Nick Wilder kept Dolphins in the hunt but his demise, dismissed by off spinner Alex Kennedy in the 38th over, signalled the end of the match.

Gillette Cup

Earlier in the week the Marlborough Boys’ College First XI lost a low-scoring encounter to their Nelson College counterparts.

The match was played at Saxton Oval with the top qualifying position for the Gillette Cup at stake.

MBC made a strong start batting first, reaching 59 without loss after the first 17 overs, but the next 17 were a disaster, losing seven wickets for the addition of just 30 runs. MBC limped through to 113 beforea bold bowling and fielding effort saw them get back in the game.

They had the home side reeling at 78-8 but were unable to seal the deal, the Nelson tail getting the job done.

Hawke Cup

The Hawke Cup is headed for the South Island after Canterbury Country, who beat Marlborough in the zone three qualifying final two weeks ago, got the better of holders Hamilton at the weekend.

Country’s victory was set up by a superb bowling effort on day one, Henry Shipley with 6-27 leading the way as the holders were dismissed for 98. Country replied with 240, Shanan Stewart’s 113 setting the tone. Batting second Hamilton were dismissed for 243 as they chased an outright, then Country knocked off the 103 runs required for an outright victory for the loss of five wickets.

If Country manage to retain the cup against Southland next weekend, they will play in the zone three group next year but will leave either Marlborough, Nelson or Buller to battle for the right to challenge.

The Marlborough-based Tasman Rugby Union staff, from left, Graeme Taylor, Dan Monaghan, Gray Cornelius, Wendy Lindstrom and Dave Paterson, with the Mitre 10 Cup. Photo: Peter Jones.

New-look team to fly Tasman flag in Marlborough

In line with the beginning of a new rugby season, Tasman rugby have set up a new-look administrative team to man their Marlborough office.

Five people will be based at the Lansdowne Park headquarters, including three newcomers to a Blenheim-based rugby role.

One face will be particularly familiar to followers of the game in this province. Graeme Taylor has given long service to the sport in this region over many years. He was chairman of the Marlborough Rugby Union from 1986-1990 and a councillor on the New Zealand Rugby Union from 1990-1996. He also served for nine years on the Marlborough District Council. Graeme is employed as a brand manager for Tasman Rugby and the Mako.

Taylor is relishing the chance to be back in the rugby community and is looking forward to the challenges each new season bring. He sees his main role as “first and foremost looking after the sponsors we have got and trying to recruit some more”.

“It’s a great opportunity for me, and for the Mako, to forge some new relationships on this side of the hill.”

After thinking his time as a rugby administrator was probably over, Taylor, who has been involved in the building industry for most of his life, said he was contacted by Tasman and felt ,”if I can help, I will help”.

“Things have obviously changed since I was previously involved – the rugby scene has gone from being very amateur to a high-class professional outfit … I’ll give it my best shot. We have had a very favourable response in the last three weeks from the local sponsors … they are all happy to be on board.”

Another newly Blenheim-based staff member who will be familiar in these parts is former Marlborough Boys’ College First XV head coach Gray Cornelius. A member of the all-conquering Mako coaching team in 2019, Gray was stationed in Nelson for the NPC season last year, but will now be based in Marlborough all year round making him more accessible to people on this side of the hill. He is still a Mako assistant coach and recently coached the successful Tasman Development team that toured the United States. He will run the union’s High Performance programme throughout the Tasman region, working with players at high performance level, plus clubs and coaches at First XV and club levels.

The third newcomer is 24-year-old Dan Monaghan, who is employed in a split role. One part of his responsibility is as a game development officer, tasked with bringing rugby to schools, plus organising tournaments, coaching courses and the like. He is also the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Mako and will assist with the High Performance programme in Marlborough, a programme which began at the start of February. Last season Dan, who will pull on the boots for Moutere this season, played premier rugby and worked in Nelson, also in a strength and conditioning role with the Mako men and women.

The longest-serving Marlborough-based staff member is Wendy Lindstrom, who will be the community rugby advisor. This will be Wendy’s fourth season at the Blenheim offices.

Last, but not least, is referee education officer Dave Paterson. He is responsible for working with referees throughout the Tasman and Buller regions and brings vast experience to the role. It will be the second year in this role for the former senior rugby referee and first class cricket umpire.

The Tasman Trophy season will kick off on March 14, with two games scheduled for Marlborough. Renwick will play defending champs Waitohi at the Renwick Domain while Central will do battle with Moutere at Lansdowne Park. East Coast/Awatere have a first round bye. Once again six Nelson-based teams will take part – Waimea Old Boys, Stoke, Nelson, Wanderers, Kahurangi and Marist. The competition will run over 11 rounds from March 14 until May 23, with semifinals on May 27 and a final on Queen’s Birthday Monday, June 1.

The Tasman Trophy competition will be followed by a sub-union round, with semis scheduled for July 11 and the final on July 18.

The division two competition is expected to begin on Easter Saturday, April 11.

Wairau sculler Robbie Manson showed he is in top form leading into a pivotal international season. Photo: Rowing NZ 

Robbie makes most of national outing

As personal statements go, Robbie Manson’s performances at the recent New Zealand Rowing Champs were concise and very much to the point.

The 30-year-old, who rowed in Wairau club colours at Lake Karapiro, won the premier single and double sculls titles, both in emphatic fashion.

In the single he came up against former double Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale, who has been vying with Robbie for the seat in the Kiwi single for the past two years, and left him trailing in his wake.

In the double he paired with Chris Harris, who he rowed with at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and prevailed comfortably.

As an opening gambit to a year where he has made a bold change, his efforts could not be faulted.

Chris Harris and Robbie Manson.Photo: Rowing NZ 
Chris Harris and Robbie Manson.Photo: Rowing NZ

This international season Robbie has decided to forgo the single, in which he set the world’s fastest time in 2017 but was unable to medal at the following three world championships, to team up once more with Chris in the double. They have been named in the NZ elite team to contest forthcoming World Cups II and III in Europe, with Mahe selected in the single at this stage.

However, the Tokyo Olympics are everyone’s primary objective in 2020 and Robbie feels he is tracking nicely for the Games, especially after underlining his early-season form so comprehensively at Karapiro.

“It went really well. It was always the plan to do both the single and the double [at the nationals].

“On a personal level I wanted to go out there and show everyone that I am still the fastest single sculler in New Zealand,” said the man who last season qualified the single for the next Olympics.

“To trial for the double this year was my choice and I definitely feel as though I have made the right choice … it was nice to go out there and prove myself in the single one more time.

“I haven’t been beaten domestically in the single for four years now and I haven’t been beaten in a sculling race at the nationals for four years either, so I just wanted to keep those kind of records going and I guess, for me, it’s potentially the last time I will get the opportunity to race Mahe, so I just wanted to nail it really.

“The single went much better than I expected because I haven’t spent a lot of time in it over the past couple of months … and the double went really well, we were both really pleased with that.”

If their selection is confirmed, Tokyo will be the third Olympic regatta for both Robbie and Chris, who finished 11th in Rio. Robbie finished seventh in the quad at the 2012 London Games, while Chris finished 11th in the four. The duo picked up a bronze medal in the double at the world champs in 2015.

Robbie stresses that his decision to move from the single was not taken lightly, with the added enjoyment of being part of a crew boat a major factor.

“After spending three years rowing on my own it is nice and refreshing to be in a crew boat with someone else.”

And he is relishing his renewed partnership with Chris.

“We are working really well together. I feel like we are both fitter and stronger and rowing technically better than we were in 2015 and 2016.

“We are a natural combination physically – we both did two second PBs on our 2km erg back at trials in January and we did exactly the same time, to 0.1 of a second. We are very evenly-matched in terms of power.

“We also have a little bit of unfinished business, because we were a really fast crew right up until Rio … now I would say that we are faster and training at a much higher level, so that’s really exciting.”

However, looming over their international campaign is the potential disruption of scheduled events as coronavirus cases spread across the globe, with some media reports suggesting the 2020 Games could be adversely affected.

However, Robbie said recent communication from the NZ Olympic Committee had informed potential team members not to worry and said they were talking to the Tokyo organising committee and everything at this stage was going ahead as planned.

“However the World Cup events, planned for Italy and Switzerland in May, could be more at risk but we are just training as normal and basically prepared for anything. I’m sure this year will have a lot of curve balls, but we are just ready to take what’s thrown at us,” he added.

Paul Knight. Photo Peter Jones

Marlborough’s marathon man slowed down by coronavirus scare

When Paul Knight sets his sights on the finish line of a marathon it takes a lot to stop him getting there.

But, the 61-year-old Marlborough athlete who has so far completed 113 marathons around the world, has this week been halted in his tracks.

Paul, Maintenance Manager at The Vines Village and Marlborough Croquet Club lawnsman, was committed to running the 2020 Tokyo Marathon, which was staged in Japan on Sunday, March 1.

However, after qualifying for the event, paying the entry fee and training towards race day, Paul has been stymied by the world-wide coronavirus scare.

In a move designed to reduce travel within Japan and prevent the spread of the viral respiratory disease, event organisers limited the race participants to elite runners and wheelchair athletes, reducing the field from around 40,000 to approximately 2000.

Making the late change even more galling for Paul is the fact that if he had completed the Tokyo event he would have conquered what are known as the Abbott World Marathon Majors, the world’s top six marathons – being Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York City and Tokyo.

“I have ticked them all off except Tokyo,” explained Paul. “This was my shot to finish it and I have been waiting two years to get into the Japan race … they get so many people wanting to do it they allocate just 10 places to New Zealanders.”

Paul is hoping for a refund of his entry fee and has been advised that his place in the field will carry forward to next year, but is unsure if he will be on the start line in 2021.

“We’ll see. Once the disappointment disappears it will probably be ‘yes, I have to go’ but I don’t think I’ll be making it a holiday like my partner and I intended this time.”

Paul was something of a slow starter on the marathon front, completing his first 42km [the Hamilton Marathon] in the mid-1980s, but then there was no stopping him as he “caught the bug”.

He describes his first marathon encounter. “I was in Hamilton, coming back from a night on the town, sitting drinking beer on the lawn of my house when the marathon field went past. My friend and I looked at each other, said ‘we can do that’, and we did [the race] the very next year. And I have loved it ever since.”

He set a goal of completing 100 marathons before he turned 60 and knocked that target off in appropriate fashion, reaching three figures at the home of the sport, Greece, when he trod the same route that Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to inform his army of victory over the Persians.

“I figured if I was going to do 100 I would do it at the Athens Classic, over the original course.”

Paul’s best time is 3 hours 18 minutes 24 seconds, set in Rotorua “many years ago” but now he runs at a more sedate pace, having bigger goals in mind.

One of these was the Triple Seven Challenge, which involves completing seven marathons, on seven continents, in seven days. He was advised that if he wanted to attempt that rare feat he would have to aim at a finishing time around 4.5 hours, “and since then I can’t get any quicker”, adds Paul.

In 2015 he took on the Triple Seven and completed it, with a minor hiccup at the end. After running consecutive marathons in Melbourne, Abu Dhabi, Paris, Tunisia, New York and Punta Arenas in Chile he set off for the final continent [Antarctica] but his plane was unable to land. However, he went back five days later and completed his seventh marathon, on King George Island, ticking off the seven continents in just 11 days.

He lists “getting 800 metres off the ground and not being able to land in Antarctica” as his worst moment in the sport and is proud of the fact he has finished every marathon he has started. “I have crawled some, I have had torn calf muscles and hamstrings but I have never pulled out,” he added.

His best moment came when he completed the Paris Marathon, one of 32 international races he has completed. “It is just such an amazing race – with the scenery, the atmosphere, the whole race was just unbelievable.”

Paul has raced shorter and longer distances but says the length of a marathon is his best. “I have done Kepler and a few 60km events and, I know it’s rude, but anything less than 42km is not worth putting your shoes on for,” he adds with a laugh.

“I love the challenges associated with running 42km … there’s always that challenge to finish and sometimes you get tweaks along the way but you overcome them and it make you a lot more determined … your brain just takes over … it’s a mental race, not a physical race.

“I have been very lucky with avoiding the sort of injuries that have put a lot of people out of running and figure that while I am able to [run marathons] I am going to do it … I still have a lot of goals that I need to achieve.”

Netball action moves to Whites Bay

Marlborough Netball made the most of the balmy summer weather to take their sport outdoors in mid-February.

A beach netball tournament was played at Whites Bay, offering soft landings, plenty of fun and some serious skills.

The finalists in the competitive grade, Beach Babes and Mixed Bunch, relax on the sand.

Two grades were played – competitive and social. Beach Babes took out the competitive grade from Mixed Bunch, while Matuahakopas Iwi won the social event from Stranger Things.

Marlborough Netball patron Viv Broughton and her husband Les were the chief organisers, setting up on the day and making the goal posts on the night before.

Social grade finalists, Matuahakopas Iwi and Stranger Things.
Top performers from the Blenheim Swim Club. From left: Lexi Timpson (14), Jessica Lovell (12), Kyla Thorstensen (12), Finn McNabb (12), Rhys Gjelstad (11), Joel Verran (14), Nicola Lovell (10) and Lachlan McNabb (13). Photo: Supplied.

Blenheim swimmers show prowess

The Blenheim Swimming Club hailed eight new champions after three tough days of competition at the Swimming Nelson Marlborough long course championships.

Competing in the 50 metre pool at Nayland, Nelson from January 31 to February 2, the Blenheim Swimming Club had a team of 23 swimmers in attendance under the guidance of head coach Jenni Gane.

BSC competitors who won championship titles were Lexi Timpson, Jessica Lovell, Kyla Thorstensen, Finn McNabb, Rhys Gjelstad, Joel Verran, Nicola Lovell and Lachlan McNabb.

Other BSC medal winners over the weekend were Jack Bugler, Eliza Glover, Andrew Hall, Matthew Hall, Chelsea Mandeno, Oliver Mandeno, Katie Marsh, Carys McNabb, Minnette Richards & Hamish Timpson.

The format for this event involved swimmers competing within their year age groups. All swimmers had to complete a specific set of events in order to qualify for the trophies, tackling races from 50m to 1500m.

Hot and windy conditions at the outdoor meet presented swimmers with a challenge they do not formally face when training and racing at the 25m indoor pool at Blenheim’s Stadium 2000, however all swimmers performed up to expectation, with most posting personal best times over the weekend.

The Blenheim Swimming Club took out the YMCA Cup for most team points per entry, a reflection of the high standard achieved across the whole team, plus the relay teams performed exceptionally well at all age levels.

Swimmers are now training hard for national-level events coming up in the next three months and the club anticipates a strong contingent to attend these meets.

For more information on swimming with the Blenheim Swimming Club, visit their website at www.blenheimswimmingclub.com.

Robbie Manson enjoyed a top regatta, winning the premier single and double scull titles. Photo: Rowing NZ.

Rowers rack up NZ titles

Marlborough-based crews returned from the New Zealand Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro last week with 17 medals.

Rowers representing both Central Rowing Performance Centre and the Wairau Rowing Club, both based on the Wairau River, went stroke-for-stroke with the country’s best and came away with a decent haul of precious metal.

Showing the way was international sculler Robbie Manson who claimed both the premier single and double titles.

In the single, raced on Saturday, Manson prevailed in a comfortable 7:16.97 while Waikato RPC’s Jordan Parry took silver in 7:21.53 and Mahe Drysdale claimed bronze in 7:24.93.

Earlier this year Manson indicated his intention to target the men’s double for the 2020 international season, and was recently selected into the boat alongside Chris Harris for the World Rowing Cup II and III.

Parry is vying for selection into a men’s quad to contest the Final Olympic Qualification regatta, while Drysdale has been selected as the New Zealand men’s single for World Rowing Cup II and III.

In the double, contested on Friday, Manson and Harris were comfortable winners, prevailing by over 11 seconds.

The women’s premier four of Jackie Gowler, Keri Gowler, Beth Ross, and Ella Greenslade also struck gold at Karapiro, beating out a strong Southern RPC crew by over six seconds.

The third fourth gold for Central went to under-20 single sculler Ricky Kiddle.

The title-winning Wairau premier quad, Jordan Gasson, Rhys Krappe, Sebastian Krappe and Harrison Somerville. Photo: Rowing NZ.
The title-winning Wairau premier quad, Jordan Gasson, Rhys Krappe, Sebastian Krappe and Harrison Somerville. Photo: Rowing NZ.

On Friday, the women’s premier pair of Kerri Gowler and Beth Ross had to settle for silver in one the most exciting races of the day, being beaten by fellow international rowers Emma Dyke and Grace Prendergast from the Southern RPC by a mere .05 of a second. Central’s Jackie Gowler and Ella Greenslade took bronze.

Tom Murray and Phillip Wilson also had to settle for second place in the premier pair, losing to the Southern RPC duo of rowing legend Hamish Bond and James Lassche by a second and a half.

International scullers Jackie Kiddle and Zoe McBride landed a bronze in the women’s premier double while Phoebe Trolove placed third in the under-20 single.

Central RPC head coach Marion Horwell was “really happy” with the performances of her charges, especially after an early setback.

Kobe Miller, a key member of the Central under-20 and under-22 programme, fell ill and was ruled out of the regatta.

“That was really disappointing,” said Horwell. “Kobe started getting ill just before we left and tests showed he had contacted glandular fever. He was an important member of our group and I am sure he would have been very competitive at the championships. However, the rest of the squad were very positive and just got on with it.”

Horwell said Ricky Kiddle’s gold medal in the under-20 single had lifted the small group’s spirits. “[Ricky] can be proud of that, it was a great result for him.”

She also praised the efforts of youngster Trolove, who has battled illness over the summer, and the work of Jamie Hindle-Daniels. “He didn’t medal but it was an outstanding effort [to place fifth in the under-22 single].”

He and Angus MacFarlane were named to trial for the NZ under-23 team in coming weeks.

Horwell was also highly impressed with Manson and the women’s four. “Robbie was just brilliant … he and Chris were outstanding in the double and he rowed a great singles race.”

 

Wairau wonders

The week’s highlight for the Wairau contingent came when the crew of Rhys Krappe, Sebastian Krappe, Harrison Somerville and Jordan Gasson combined superbly to take out the premier quad title, earning each a coveted red coat.

Then, on the final day, the Wairau quartet added a second gold, dead-heating with Waikato for first place in the senior quad final. Both Wairau and the Waikato quad of Karl Manson (stroke), Charlie Rogerson, Jack O’Leary and Josh Toa recorded a time of 6:31.05.

The Wairau coaches labelled the quad’s efforts as “a fantastic result”.

 

“We are so pleased for the boys,” said Kaye Surgenor, who was awarded a Green Coat in recognition of training a premier-winning crew at the NZ Champs.

 

Brothers Sebastian (23) and Rhys (19) Krappe, who hail from San Francisco and are training under Surgenor at Wairau, underlined their potential with a clear victory in the men’s senior double and bronze in the premier double.

Deciding to take a gap year to focus on rowing in the double, the siblings travelled to New Zealand in September last year, training alongside the club and attending local regattas. They will soon return to the US to target Olympic qualification in April.

Surgenor is delighted to have the newcomers at Wairau. “These boys have proved the worth of a NZ rowing season and will surely feature in the US Olympic trials in this event, upon their return to the States – I am very pleased for them.”

Somerville added to the medal tally with bronze in the hotly contested men’s senior single, being beaten by Karl Manson, and Jack O’Leary both previously with the Central RPC.

Elliot Rose attained a hard-earned bronze in the final of the club single with coach Mark James commenting, “That was a wonderful result, well deserved for this young emerging talent who moved to Marlborough from the Porirua RC and worked locally to support himself to train here”.

Dylan Crick and Will Samson, from the Nelson RC, who trained under Surgenor at Wairau also stood out, medalling in both the pair (silver) and double sculls (bronze).

“The rowed out of their skins,” added Surgenor.

 

ROLL OF HONOUR

CENTRAL RPC

GOLD

Men’s premier double (Chris Harris, Robbie Manson)

Men’s premier single (Robbie Manson)

Women’s premier four (Jackie Gowler, Keri Gowler, Beth Ross, Ella Greenslade)

Men’s under-20 single (Ricky Kiddle)

SILVER

Women’s premier pair (Kerri Gowler, Beth Ross)

Men’s premier pair (Tom Murray, Phillip Wilson)

BRONZE

Women’s premier double (Jackie Kiddle, Zoe McBride)

Women’s premier pair (Jackie Gowler, Ella Greenslade)

Women’s under-20 single (Phoebe Trolove)

 

WAIRAU

GOLD

Men’s premier quad (Jordan Gasson, Rhys Krappe, Sebastian Krappe, Harrison Somerville)

Men’s senior quad (Krappe, Krappe, Somerville, Gasson)

Men’s senior double (Krappe, Krappe)

 

SILVER

Men’s lightweight Pair (Dylan Crick, Will Samson)

 

BRONZE

Men’s premier double (Krappe, Krappe)

Men’s senior single (Somerville)

Men’s club single (Elliot Rose)

Men’s lightweight Double (Crick, Samson)

Several of the Marlborough masters players take a break from training on Wednesday evening. From left: Jules Maltesen, Jo Campbell, Natasha Veltman, Jo Jones, John MacKinnon, Rosie Lamain, Sandy O'Connell, Matt Hair, Nigel Fraser, Robyn Rowe, George Nation, Abby Scott and Andrew McCaa. Photo: Peter Jones.

Hockey masters head for Christchurch

What is thought to be a record number of Marlborough hockey players are bound for the National Masters tournament in Christchurch from February 23-29.

Twenty-two Marlborough-based players are spread across eight teams, most representing Tasman but others turning out for teams from Wellington, Otago/Southland, Tauranga and Auckland at various age group levels.

Abby Scott, Sara Stocker, George Nation, Emma Rose-Alison will play for the Tasman women 35s while Andrew McCaa, Michael Mitchell, Sam McConway, Andrew Nation and Andrew Mitchell will represent the Tasman men’s 35s.

Loren Hickin, Jo Campbell, Jules Maltesen, Tash Veltman and Jo Jones will front up for the Tasman women’s 40 team with Sandy O’Connell playing for Tasman men’s 50s.

The Wellington men’s 45s will have the services of Malcolm King and Matt Hair while the Otago/Southland women’s 55s can call on Denise Lloyd, Rosie Lamain and Robyn Rowe. Nigel Fraser is playing for Tauranga men’s 55s while John MacKinnon joins the Auckland men’s 45s.

Nick Gardiner, left, and Ben Beasley on board Moving Violation. Photo: Supplied.

Youngest crew, smallest boat … no worries for Nick and Ben

Marlborough sailor Nick Gardiner has never been one to shirk a challenge.

However, in two days’ time the 21-year-old will tackle what shapes as the toughest proposition of his sporting career so far, when he and fellow youngster Ben Beasley line up at the start of the gruelling 2020 Short Handed Sailing Association Round North Island Yacht Race.

The duo are the youngest competitors in the race and will crew the smallest boat in the fleet. Their yacht, Moving Violation, is an Elliott 7.9 designed by Greg Elliott. At just 7.0m on the waterline Beasley and Gardiner will have plenty of work to do to keep Moving Violation at the front of the pack in what will be a diverse division.

The RNI, which covers around 1271 nautical miles, is New Zealand’s most iconic yachting challenge and the 2020 edition will feature 38 yachts, ranging from Gardiner and Beasley’s 28-foooter to 52-foot craft. This is 13th edition of the race, 43 years after the inaugural event was first planned by Sir Peter Blake and Martin Foster.

The race starts in Auckland with the first leg to Mangonui in the far north, leg two is from Mangonui to Wellington, the third leg is from Wellington to Napier and the final stage is from Napier returning to Auckland. The race is expected to take around two weeks to complete.

Making it to the start line of this epic race is a challenge in itself. Each yacht must have a Category 2 Safety Certificate issued by Yachting NZ and have completed a 250 Nautical Mile qualifying passage with both co-skippers on board. The co-skippers must both also complete Advanced First Aid training, Advanced Sea Survival qualifications and provide a medical certificate deeming them fit to compete.

The youngsters have followed similar path to the RNI.

Gardiner began with Learn to Sail classes at the Queen Charlotte Yacht Club and progressed through the grades, he and fellow Marlburian Nick Williams winning the Marlborough Sports Awards Team of the Year in 2016 after taking out an international regatta in California.

Beasley, who owns Moving Violation, began sailing aged nine and moved quickly through the youth classes, competing in national and international regattas.

Both Beasley and Gardiner have crewed on keelboats competing in harbour races and regattas including class nationals and Coastal Classics. Together they have competed in events such as the ANZAC 250 and last year completed the Coastal Classic two-handed as part of qualifying for the RNI.

They both work in sailing-related industries – Ben is a trainee spar maker and Nick a trainee sailmaker. Evolution Sails is supporting them for the race.

When asked what appealed most about the forthcoming challenge, Gardiner was to the point.

“The adventure.

“My favourite point of sail is broad reaching, because it’s fast. The thing I like most about Moving Violation is the fact it is so easy to manage. Also a highlight will be seeing different parts of the country at dawn, I’m looking forward to that.

“Our biggest supporters have been our parents – Dad is doing all he can from Marlborough while Ben’s family have been fantastic.”

Odyssey V, skippered by Garry Coleman and Nigel Siburn, have the privilege of being the oldest combined crew in the 2020 RNI with a combined age of 138, and are impressed by what Beasley and Gardiner are undertaking.

“We wish Ben and Nick all the best for the race and look forward to seeing them off our stern all the way around the North Island, – just follow us lads, us old chaps can show you the way – and then make sure you do the race again and again until you’re our age!”

Beasley and Gardner have a dual purpose during their time on the water, they are using the challenge to raise awareness and funds for the charity Lifeline. The charity receives no Government funding and yet fields a staggering 10,000 calls a month offering a listening ear to people in dark places. It costs $750 to train one helpline volunteer, and, to date, the young men have raised enough money for one and a bit volunteer(s), but they would like to raise enough to train two or more people.

The cause hits close to home. They both have personal stories of friends and family suffering depression and mental illness.

Beasley said, “NZ has a very high suicide rate and personally I have known people with depression who have taken their own lives. With Lifeline there is always a person on the phone that you can talk to confidentially and I think it’s important people are aware of this”.

Nick and Ben’s Lifeline fundraising page is https://give.everydayhero.com/nz/sailing-for-lifeline-1

They also have a Facebook page where you can follow their progress https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Amateur-Sports-Team/MV-Sailing-Elliott-79-280347112506534/.