New Zealand Womens' crews at the Buddy Melges Regatta, Final Report

Stephanie Hazard, Susannah Pyatt and Miranda Powrie sailing upwind in the Buddy Melges Challenge
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Two New Zealand Womens teams are competing at the USA Sailing Centre on Lake Michigan: Stephanie Hazard - Helm, Susannah Pyatt - Main, Miranda Powrie - Bow; and Samantha Osborne - Helm, Jenna Hansen - Main, Raynor Smeal - Bow in the second crew

Finals Day at Buddy Melges Challenge, Sheboygan USA, Grade 2.

It was a spectacular Sunday on Lake Michigan with blue skies and a steady breeze of 5-8 knots.
The NZ Match Racing Squad had a commendable day on the water with both teams finishing on the podium:

Samantha Osborne, Jenna Hansen and Raynor Smeal
Round Robin One Placing: 4th
Semi Finals: 2-0 against Peru
Finals: 3-2 against Canada
Result: 1st

Stephanie Hazard, Susannah Pyatt and Miranda Powrie
Round Robin One Placing: 3rd
Semi Finals: 0-2 against Canada
Petite Finals: 2-1 against Peru
Result: 3rd

Here is a summary from Team Osborne and Team Hazard on their day:

Sam, Jenna and Ray-Practice Day,Buddy Melges Regatta
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Team Osborne (Sam, Jenna, Raynor)

With the round robin having 2 flights incomplete, the race committees first priority was to get the remaining 2 flights finished. We came up against the Israeli team and despite starting slightly behind the line (a bit of paranoia going on there from matches from the day before) with better boat handling, speed and knowledge of the rules we quickly passed them and kept our lead until the finish line. Winning this race meant that we had secured our spot as 4th qualifier in the top 4. Having got the round robin completed in sufficient time we moved into a semi finals round - being the 4th qualifier this put us up against the number 1 qualifier; Zimmerman from Peru.

For our first start against them, we unfortunately experienced some deja vu in our start, having dominated them, we misjudged our timing and started over the line. Luckily for us the 'sea' (or lake) breeze was filling in and as this caused a 180 degree wind shift our race was abandoned at the top mark. Wasting no time a new course was set and we started all over again. We started tight to leeward of them and burnt them in no time. With a bit more pressure the small Peru girls had lost
Stephanie Hazard, Susannah Pyatt and Miranda Powrie on the podium at the Buddy Melges Challenge
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their distinct advantage and we continued to extend our lead. At the first top mark however things got a bit interesting when they attempted to hunt by sailing above their starboard layline while we were sailing downwind. However Sam kindly pointed this out to the umpires and they were penalized. We kept it simple from here, stayed in touch with them and finished well ahead. Next race used the same formula- tight leeward start, faster boat speed and we won the semi finals 2-0.

Unfortunately our fellow team mates had not had a successful semi final and we were to meet the Canadian Team skippered by Jen Provan in the finals- whose full team had attended the 2008 Olympics in the Yngling. Our first race saw them receive a penalty in the first 2min for windward boat not keeping clear in the dial up. Despite being able to choose our start, a bigger-then-we-expected left shift saw us battling to lay the pin with 10s remaining and we ended up down speed and having to gybe away to start. Provan saw this as an opportunity to clear her penalty however luckily for us while she was doing it she hit the pin and the penalty was not cleared and she also received another one - one of which had to be completed immediately. This gave us enough time to get up to speed (just!) and have piece of her. Game Over.

hazard-downwind
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Race 2, was a repeat of our races in the semi finals- tight leeward, fast, protected left, won. Race 3- bit more interesting. Having to take our second option start and starting wide on her windward hip Provan was able to do to us what we had successfully been able to do to her and Zimmerman. However Kiwi's don't go down without a fight and taking little gains were we could it was a nail biting finish and lots of ease on Jenna’s kite, and we were within 10cm of having it. Next race we were looking to win our match point. With the wind having evened up, we started split tacks at the boat with Provan starting down speed at the pin. However the left remained strong and on the next cross Provan was able to lee bow and bounce us out into the lighter winds on the right. Picking up a opportunity to get left of her in the last 1/3 of the beat we made some small gains, dipped her, tacked and found just enough space between her and the mark to round inside. We managed to fight for a very small lead and kept it until the next downwind On the final downwind, Provan initiated straight into a gybe-and-roll duel.

Unfortunately we felt as though we were reacting to the situation rather than initiating it and close to the finish she was able to roll around us to take the race. In the final and deciding race for both teams it was game on. Provan had starboard entry and did a very good job of keeping us dialed up for most of the pre start. With less than 2min remaining, we finally found an escape and were able to set up for our start. When fish tailing we got hooked to windward, misjudged the tack lay and got held out beyond the boat. We started behind, slow and in her gas. With lots of work to do, it was amazing how calm the team remained. We knew how to make the boat go quick and we took whatever little gains we could. With some pressure in the right we were back in touch by the top mark, and a better top mark rounding saw us set up to roll her (eventually) on the first downwind. Rounded the bottom mark ahead, we played the game we know, stayed in phase with her and forced her to sail in gas for most of the beat. Downwind having learnt our mistake of not sailing our own race in the race before we initiated our gybes, kept in clear air, and ended up extending our lead TO WIN THE BUDDY MELGES CHALLENGE!!!!

Team Hazard (Steph, Susannah, Miranda)

We finished strongly in the round robin qualifying 3rd after 7 wins and two losses to qualify third and face Jen Provan's team, who represented Canada in the Yngling in Beijing. 1st race we were set up for a fairly even start but unfortunately we were over the line before the gun and were unable to catch back up to the very quick team. The second race saw a very intense prestart with three penalties given two to the Canadians and one to us and all within about 30 seconds. After this we kept control to lead off and around the top mark but a stuff up in the hoist closed up our lead. After another intense gybing duel downwind they rounded the mark in front and extended enough to complete their penalty on the finish line to finish about three seconds ahead. After this disappointing lose we had to pick ourselves up to race the Peruvians for 3rd place.

They got the better of us in the first race as they had a better start and protected their lead well to take the first race. The second race was a must win for us and we came out fighting. Bouncing them to the less favored right side, pinning them on the right hand lay line we created a gap they we never reliquinished. The 3rd race was the decider, we lee bowed them off the start and a close upwind ensued with bow to bow tacks, however we rounded the top mark just in front, and again extended to a good lead by doing a much better hoist and downwind run. They managed to close it up a little at the second top mark but we held on for the win to finish in third place in the Buddy Melges Challenge.

Although we are a little disappointed with our loss to the Candians, we felt it we really improved our race skills over the regatta and it was a great effort after only a month together befo
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