Following three days of competition, the leaderboard of the Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship remains unchanged: Chris Steele (RNZYS), Ashlen Rooklyn (CYCA), Sam Gilmour (RFBYC) and Harry Price (CYCA).
Steele and his crew kept their cool to maintain their lead - 2012 Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship
Sydney turned on her picturesque summer’s best with a sunny 26 degrees and moderate east north easterly to north east breezes – a stark comparison to yesterday’s grey and light, fluky airs.
Steele, representing Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron with his crew of Stewart Dodson and Rawiri Geddes, was leading at the conclusion of the round robin stages late this afternoon and elected to sail his semi-final against Harry Price. Steele continued his winning streak finishing the day with eight wins.
'We didn’t lose one match today and we didn’t make as many mistakes. We’ll definitely have to step it up a notch tomorrow for the finals,' Steele said.
'The breeze filled in today and we had to keep the focus on our boat handling and speed. We had good pre-starts and some tight matches,' he said
'It was another tight match against Rooklyn – we forced a penalty on him and then we both got a penalty on the second beat. We got another penalty shortly after, which cancelled out his (Rooklyn) original penalty – there was three penalties within 10 seconds.
'We just had to make sure that we put ourselves between him and the finish line. The boys kept their cool and we got away with the win.
Rooklyn felt really positive today - 2012 Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship
'Our first semi-final with Harry (Price) was another tight match. For a young skipper, he’s really showing some great skills,' Steele added.
Ashlen Rooklyn, representing the host club, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia with his crew of Henry Kernot and Jack Breislin, finished the day with seven wins, and placing second at the end of the round robin stages and is in a sail off against Sam Gilmour in the minor semi-final.
'We were a lot more consistent in the breeze today – being on weight in these conditions helped,' Rooklyn said. 'It was harder to make gains but our aim for the day was to keep it tight, get the boat speed right and play to our advantages.
'We’re saving our best till last – we’re like a ticking time bomb ready to explode,' Rooklyn added.
It was a disappointing day for Sam Gilmour (Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club) as he dropped three matches, but still managed to hold onto third place at the conclusion of the round robin stages.
'We struggled a bit in the breeze,' Gilmour admitted this afternoon 'We haven’t really been out in these boats in conditions like we had today but by the end of the day we were handling the breeze better and our boat speed was fast.
'In our semi-final against Ash (Rooklyn) we had a few issues with our kite drop which gave him a good lead that we weren’t able to claw back.'
This is Harry Price’s first major regatta as a skipper and his crew of Tom Potter and Sam Ellis, representing the CYCA has come together for this event. Price had four wins today to finish fourth at the end of the round robins. Having an Olympic silver medallist as your sister (Olivia Price), family dinners are often lively with the salt and pepper shakers becoming marks of the course and match racing strategies the topic of discussion.
Price got the win in his match against Appelgren - 2012 Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship
'We had some good wins today but we were struggling against some of the heavier crews in the breeze, as we’re a bit light. We made it to the semis - which is that the goal we set ourselves,' Price said.
'In our semi-final against Chris (Steele), he got a lift, took us to the lay line and then just took off and we couldn’t match his boat speed.'
One of the big improvers today was Claudia Pierce and her all girl crew of Paige Cook, Holly Hamlin and Andrea Hawtin, from Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Pierce finished the day with a total five wins and leaving her one–up in the sail-off for seventh and eighth place.
'We’re used to heavy winds so were much happier with the breeze kicking in today – unfortunately it was just a bit too late in the regatta for us,' Pierce said. 'We finally came into our own.'
'Our coach (Roy Dickson) gave us a pep talk before we hit the water today and said 'go fast'. So we wrote ‘FAST’ with some smilies on our draw sheet inside the boat to remind ourselves throughout the day.
Pierce was inspired by the words 'FAST'written on her drawn sheet - 2012 Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship
'We had a good match with fellow club member Chris (Steele) and there was only about a boat length in between us when we finished – we were pretty stoked about that. It’s only our second regatta together – it’s a little disappointing to finish down the leaderboard after placing third last week in the Harken Youth Match Racing Championship,' Pierce added.
Race Officer Denis Thompson described the day as 'Perfect. We started the first flight of the day in a light 5-6 knot east north easterly which then built and settled in from the north east – reaching up to 14 knots towards the end of the afternoon.
'It was a great day with both boats and sailors lit up – great racing and tactics on display,' Thompson said. The race course was again set in the vicinity of Rushcutters Bay.
Hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, racing is being conducted on the Youth Sailing Academy Elliott 6s, with the remainder of the minor placing sail-offs, semi-finals and grand finals being sailed tomorrow, Friday 30 November from 1015hrs. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting north easterly winds of 15-20 knots, increasing to 20 to 25 knots late in the day and a mostly sunny day.
Race results will be updated throughout the course of the regatta here.