by Jordan Reece
True Blue Racing has finished second in the 2011 CentrePort Wellington International Youth Match Racing championships behind Jay Griffin from the CYCA in the best of five final.
True Blue Racing sailing upwind in the 2011 CentrePort Wellington International Youth Match Racing Championships - CentrePort International Youth Match Racing Championships
The team, which just came from the Harken International Championships in Auckland were keen to get back into the Elliot 6m but the team struggled throughout the round robin stage, only coming through in the final flights to qualify for the semi finals.
The team led by Jordan Reece with Arnau Farris-Knowles, Kate Brown and James Shannon had a roller coaster of a regatta making a slow start to the regatta ending the first round robin with four wins to sit fifth overall on the standings after the opening day. Day 2 got even worse for the team, only winning one race they fell to sixth and looked out of the competition but a great bounce back on day 3 saw the team skyrocket up the leaderboard at the end of the round robin stage. Coming into the third day of racing and only 4 races left in the round robin, True Blue Racing needed to win all their remaining matches to even have a chance of qualifying for the semi finals. With matches against the RPAYC, the Italian team and the two top ranked teams - Jay Griffin and Tim Coltman it was a huge task ahead for the team. But the team sailed smartly and calmly to win all four matches. At the end of the round robin stages it was last week's Harken winning team from the CYCA who were on top, surprisingly True Blue Racing managed to scrap out second place with Tim Coltman and Josh Porebski, both from Wellington taking third and forth repsectively.
Winning the round robin stage gave Griffin the choice to choose his semi finals opponent. Having lost both round robin races to TBR and one to Coltman Griffin chose Porebski for the semi finals leaving a re-run of the 2010 Harken final between Reece and Coltman in the other semi final. Both Wellington teams made strong starts to the semi finals by winning the opening races.
Race 1 between Reece and Coltman saw Reece OCS at the start, gifting the race win to Coltman. In race 2 both teams took an even start, Coltman led around every mark but with Reece hot on the trail. On the final downwind leg Reece managed to get an overlap, Coltman bore down on Reece where there was contact between the spinnaker and mainsheet. in the incident Coltman recieved a double penalty allowing Reece to sail through to the finish. With the score now locked at 1-1 it was down to the final race to decide who would make it through to the finals. Again both teams came off even but with True Blue Racing to windward the team managed to slowly lift off Coltman to leeward. The team led around the entire course but on the final run an early gybe out by Reece gave Coltman the opportunity to pass though True Blue Racing held on to take the win by only three seconds.
The final day of the regatta started with no wind and a lengthy delay, but by lunch the breeze was in and racing got underway. The opening race saw Reece control the pre-start, leading back with Griffin locked to windward, but in a furious luffing battle the team stalled out and copped a penalty handing the race to the CYCA. Race 2 saw another tight match, Grffin leading to the top mark but good downwind speed saw Reece roll Griffin, in another luffing duel Reece was again penalized for not keeping clear but regrouped to round the bottom mark ahead. The team held the advantage for the rest of the race but with a penalty still outstanding Griffin took the race and a 2-0 series lead. The final race was a do or die for True Blue Racing and in the initial dial up the team looked to bail out but couldnt get their bow away and T-boned the CYCA. A long discussion on the umpire boat eventially saw Reece get yet another penalty althought the team did manage another even start but around the track fell back and by the final turning mark were to far behind to launch an effective attack and lost the race.
'Of course I'm enormously proud of the team this week, obviously right now we arent feeling that great, It has been a long, hard four days for us but ultimately the other guys did a better job' commented Reece after racing. 'it was great racing out on the harbour and in those conditions, we always enjoy this regatta and will do all we can to return next year and hopefully go that one step further.'
With the announcement of the 34th America's Cup being sailed in multihulls the team is now heading back home to Sydney where the team will start to sail multihulls in an attempt to learn more about them ahead of the Youth America's Cup in 2012.