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International Youth Match Racing Championship - Steele defends title

by Jennifer Crooks on 29 Nov 2013
Chris Steele holds his nerve in the finals - Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship 2013 Andrea Francolini
The Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship concluded on Sydney Harbour today. New Zealander Chris Steele has held his nerve and successfully defended his title, defeating American Christophe Killian 3-0 in the grand final.

Steele, and his crew of Connor Mashlan, Dylan Wichman and George Brasell representing Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, dropped one match throughout the entire regatta, which was hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and contested on the fleet of Elliott 7s.

Stating at the beginning of the week, he wanted to finish his youth match racing career on a high, Steele was ecstatic to have achieved his goal.

'It’s great to have defended the title,' Steele said. 'I’ve had six podium finishes in ten events and we’ve won the last two - finally!'

The win wasn’t easy for Steele – he had to tough it out with CYCA’s Harry Price in the semi-final sail-off. 'It was a tough first race of the day. We inflicted a penalty on him in the pre-start and the first beat was very tight – lots of lee bow tacks plus a few dial downs.

'We managed to bounce him out to the port lay line and rounded the top mark four to five boat lengths in front of him and then had to fight the rest of the race to keep the lead. It really was worthy of a grand final match,' Steele added.

With one match of the semi-final completed yesterday, Steele moved through to the Grand Final, with Price meeting Rawiri Geddes, from Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, in the Petit Final.

In the grand final, pre-starts made all the difference for Steele. 'In our first match against Killian, we lead off the line after getting a penalty on him. The second match we lead off the line again and in the third match we had him (Killian) over the line early,' Steele recalled.

'It was pretty hard for Killian to comeback from that, however we had a few issues in the last race when the breeze was on. We had a horrible first run – got a knot in the kite and it took us half of the leg to get it out. He also tried a couple of manoeuvres which didn’t work out.'


So what now for the man of Steele…'I’ll be competing in the Warren Jones International and the Hardy Cup in early 2014 and then do some World Match Racing Tour events throughout the year. I’ll also finish up with the RNZYS’s youth program in January but I’d also like to give a bit back to the program in some way.

'I’ll also be trying to work out a plan to get into the next America’s Cup through competing in the Extreme 40s or World Tour events,' Steele concluded.


Christophe Killian and his crew of Harrison Vanderwort, Jack Martin, Andrew Lutrell and Megan Roach, representing Balboa Yacht Club, were the most improved team of the regatta finishing in second place and achieved their goal of making the finals.

'We’re really happy even though we only won one race today. It was the match we needed to win to get us into the grand final match,' Killian said.


Describing the match, Killian recalled 'It was a pretty even pre-start and we managed to get the side of the line we wanted. We picked a couple of shifts extending our lead and walked away with the win.'

'Chris (Steele) was a tough opponent and with the windy conditions we didn’t quite have the right handling ability,' Killian added.


Harry Price and his crew of Angus Williams, Louis Collins and Matt Stenta, representing the host club, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, finished the regatta in third place.

'I’m a little disappointed I missed out on the grand final. We lost our semi to Chris (Steele) at the start of the race and couldn’t get into a position to take the lead. In the first match of the petit final against Geddes, we lost the pre-start after controlling him. We managed to pick a few shifts and get the lead and hold onto to take the win,' Price said

'In the second match, we had a few kite problems and he (Geddes) was able to get in front and build a good lead to take the match. There were still some control issues in the third and final match. We started to windward and picked up a nice shift that put us into the lead.

'We had another horrible spinnaker drop and went out right to tack to pick up the breeze for the downwind run. At the bottom mark, we cross tacked underneath him and gained 50 metres and it was game over from there,' Price added.

Rawiri Geddes and his crew of Alex Dyet, Josh Salthouse and George Anyon, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, finished in fourth just out of podium places and was content with his performance.

'We made a few mistakes but learnt quite a bit throughout the course of the regatta,' Geddes said.

'In our semi against Killian we had control in the pre-start right until the last 20 seconds. We both wanted the boat end of the line, but he got there first and it was pretty much race over from there.

'Price and his team had really good boat speed downwind in the petit finals. It was good to take one match off him (the second of the three match petit final). We had a strong pre-start and lead off the line, ensuring that there was tight cover all the way up to the top mark. We didn’t give him any breathing space to overtake if he picked a shift. We had good downwind speed and lead the whole way home,' Geddes added.

Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson got racing underway on time in an 8-9 knots southerly breeze, which built to 20 knots by the time the last match finished. 'With the forecast winds predicted to reach 30-35 knots by midday, I wanted to try and finish the program before it got blown out,' Thompson said.

'The breeze did flick left and right throughout the day requiring some course changes. I’d like to compliment the entire team that worked throughout the regatta. They handled the course changes quickly and cleanly, which assisted in getting through the entire program,' he added.

Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore Howard Piggott congratulated all competitors on their performance throughout the regatta. 'Congratulations to Chris Steele and his team from Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on their win. The standard of competition was high with great camaraderie shown with fellow competitors.

Final Placings
1st – Chris Steele (RNZYS)
2nd – Christophe Killian (BYC)
3rd – Harry Price (CYCA)
4th - Rawiri Geddes (RNZYS)
5th - Murray Jones (CYCA)
6th - Sam Mackay (RPNYC)
7th – Milly Bennett (RPAYC)
8th - Lucas Chatonnier (CNC)
9th - Dylan Gore (RYCT)
10th – Carolyn Smith (NHYC)

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