18th Harken Intl Youth Match Racing Championships kicks off tomorrow

William Tiller and crew celebrate after taking victory in the 2009 HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championships - photo by Tom Spithill - 18th HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championships
Tom Spithill
18th annual Harken International Youth Match Racing Championships, one of the premier events for youth on the match racing circuit gets underway tomorrow on Pittwater with the competitor registration, weigh-in and training session followed by an event launch in the evening at the host club, The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.

The 2010 Harken International Youth marks the 13th consecutive year with Harken Australia as naming rights sponsor. Their ongoing commitment to the development of youth match racing is a credit to this leading manufacturer and marketer of quality sailboat hardware and accessories.

Garry Lock, Harken Australia & New Zealand Managing Director said, 'It is Harken’s commitment to assisting the talents of up and coming sailors that led to the association with the RPAYC. The Harken International Match Racing Regatta has proven to be a great showcase for talent and this year certainly promises to continue with its high calibre of sailors. Many promising young sailors have gone onto further their sailing careers after competing in this regatta. We are pleased to continue our relationship with the RPAYC in 2010.'

'The Harken' as it is known in youth sailing circles worldwide stands out as one of the premier events for youth on the International match racing calendar and has during its 18 year history served as a launch pad for a number of local yachting stars including dual Harken winning skippers James Spithill, Michael Dunstan, Seve Jarvin and more recently Torvar Mirsky who has since become a rising star on the World Circuit.

This year, eight teams from Australia and New Zealand will compete for the Rockin’ Robin Perpetual Trophy with two teams from New Zealand and six from Australia with the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania sending a team for the first time.

Harry Thurston in action in the 2009 HARKEN final versus Tiller where he was runner-up- photo by Tom Spithill.JPG - 18th HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championships
Tom Spithill

The event will be sailed in the Club's fleet of Force 24' yachts which are purpose built for match racing and extremely popular with competitors due to their lively performance. Each team can have up to five crew with a maximum crew weight limit is 350Kg, all of who must be under 21 years of age.

Crews will certainly be hoping the forecasters get it wrong with rain predicated for the rest of the week and the breeze out of the South-South East ranging from 8 to 20 knots with light, variable conditions predicted for Sunday’s final.

The teams will sail a complete round robin with every team sailing once against each other. The teams will then progress through to a three-match repechage/knockout round. The team at the bottom of the ladder after each three-match decider will be knocked out of the competition. This will continue until there are only two teams remaining. The two remaining teams will then sail a best of five final to decide the winner of this year’s event and who will be awarded the Rockin’ Robin Trophy.

The eight teams are:
Team Skipper
1 Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club (NZ) Tim Coltman
2 Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (NSW) Jay Griffin
3 Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (NZ) Codie Banks
4 Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (NSW) Jordan Reece
5 Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (Tas) Elliot Noye
6 Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (NSW) Reece Tailby
7 Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (NSW) Stephanie Doyle
8 Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Ashlen Rooklyn

The NZ teams always bring some tough competitors to the event given their intense youth development programs they operate across the Tasman. Last year New Zealand ended a successful event going one, two, three on the podium with RNZYS’s William Tiller pipping Harry Thurston, also representing RNZYS with Matt Steven from Wellington's RPNYC in third spot. 19 year-old Jordan Reece from the RSYS finished the tournament in fourth position and will be hoping to climb onto the podium a little higher this year.

In fact, Reece, with his experience from last year, will also go in as one of the favourites alongside another 19 year-old in Jay Griffin (CYCA) given they are the highest ranked ISAF sailors in the field. However, the Kiwis can’t ever be discounted nor can relative new boy on the block, Elliot Noye from Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania who recently beat both Reece and Jordan to win the Australian Youth Match Racing titles in Southport.

Griffin, the highest ranked ISAF sailor in the competition, has an extremely respectable 2010 match racing scorecard with a fourth in the Governors Cup, USA, a second at the World University Gamed in Greece, a second in the Australian Youth Nationals and a win in the Club Marine NSW Match Racing Championships for the second year in a row.

The 2010 Harken International event is certified Grade 3 for ISAF match race rankings. After team training and event launch on Wednesday, match racing will commence on Pittwater on Thursday, 18th at around 10am and conclude with the finals on Sunday 21st November. The course is set just north of Scotland Island and spectators are encouraged to come along.

Follow all the action on the water from Thursday at www.rpayc.com.au/2010-harken-youth-match-racing-regatta
PRO for the event will once again be Ted Anderson whose experience goes back to the Olympic match racing in 2000 and Chief Umpire will be Ian Thompson who leads a formidable cast of umpires.

International and interstate teams will be billeted with RPAYC Club members, a custom that has forged many longstanding friendships in past years. The organisation of an event of this calibre would not be possible without the aid of a dedicated team of volunteers and RPAYC members.

Jordan Reece and his RSYS crew on the final day of the 2009 Harken where he finished fourth - by Tom Spithill - 18th HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championships
Tom Spithill