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Dave Hazard from RNZYS wins back to back Harken Int'l Youth crowns

by Damian Devine on 25 Nov 2012
The winners - Dave hazard and crew after winning back to back Harkens - 20th Harken International Youth Match Racing Championships Damian Devine

After four solid days of racing, Dave Hazard from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has joined James Spithill, Seve Jarvin and Michael Dunstan, to become only the fourth dual winner of the Harken Youth Match Racing Championships with a win today in the final on Pittwater, hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.

His crew of Scott Barnes, Rawiri Geddes and Michael Boucher worked extremely well together to have a resounding 3-0 victory over club mate Chris Steele in some tight match racing to get his hands on the Rockin’ Robin perpetual trophy for the second year in a row.

In the three race petit final, it was Claudia Pierce and her all female crew also from RNZYS in their first regatta with a 2-0 win over WA’s Sam Gilmour, representing the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club. Her third place meant that three teams from the one club filled the podium, unprecedented in the 20 year history of the Harken.

A hot and fickle day was presented for the final day on Pittwater with a light 6-8 knot North North Easter when racing got underway at 1200hrs.

The 2012 HARKEN event finished on a high note with Race Officer Ted Anderson managing to get through every race scheduled for the regatta with just the petit and final to be staged on the final day.

Hazard led from start to finish and was undefeated over the four days of competition and certainly showed why he was the favourite coming into the regatta. He sailed smart in the three lap final, with some slick crew work and clever upwind sailing and was never behind over the best of five races, to be the deserved winner.

In a penalty free final, Hazard took a comfortable victory in the first match with an eight boat length win after picking the shifts on the left hand side of the course to lead at the top mark by three boat lengths. Steele, again proved to be stronger downwind, to pull back the lead to be just one boat length as they came to the bottom mark for the first time. Hazard again went left as they tacked their way to the top mark for the second time. Hazard increased his lead picking up another shift half way up the beat to lead by six boat lengths at the top mark for the final time. He sailed comfortably on the final downwind to maintain his six boat length lead with the breeze fading.

The wind then faded right out and there was a one hour delay to racing as the race committee waited for the breeze to fill back in and settle at 015. At 1345hrs the AP flag came down and race two was underway.

The second match was much closer with Steele, more aggressive in the pre start, attempting to inflict a couple of penalties on Hazard. Hazard maintained his cool as they got away to an even start. Hazard led from start to finish with no more than two boat lengths separating the pair. Steele tried to catch Hazard but it was all in vain in the end.

The third match saw the breeze steady at 010 and another tight pre-start with Hazard coming into the ring from starboard and Steele from port. Hazard got the advantage off the line to lead from the pin end. He then picked another shift on the left hand side gaining momentum as the pressure built at the top end of the course to lead by five boat lengths at the top mark. Steele made up some ground on the first downwind opting for a different lane and pulling back the lead to just one boat length at the bottom mark.

Hazard again went left picking the shifts to again extend his lead at the top mark by two boat lengths. An opportunity opened for Steele as Hazard had a twist in their spinnaker as they hoisted but with some slick crew work they quickly sorted it and were on the run for the second time with Steele on his heels. At the bottom mark, the spinnaker to jib sail change was efficient and effective for Hazard’s crew and they turned with a two boat length lead. They maintained this to the top mark and the final run to the finish to cross the line at 1500hrs and, with a fist pump, a jubilant Hazard was crowned 2012 Harken youth match racing champion with a comfortable 3-0 victory.

For Hazard this will be his third and last Harken but for Steele, who crewed on Hazard’s victory boat last year, will be back again next year and will no doubt be better for the experience.

Hazard was thrilled after taking victory commenting, 'This is awesome, absolutely stoked to win the Harken twice. Today we seemed to have the advantage on the upwind picking the shifts on the left hand side and Chris was better on the downwind, but we managed to hold on and win. I knew I just had to stay out of trouble. It’s been a great week and a great regatta and the Alfreds has made us all feel welcome. Thanks to Harken for sponsoring the event and supporting youth match racing.

'The crew really dug deep and worked well together and Guy (Pilkington, the coach) was awesome. As a team, we’re all really pleased and to win here on Pittwater and take the trophy back to New Zealand for the fourth year in a row is a great feeling,' said an elated Hazard.

In the petit final, the win to Pierce was comfortable in the end but the first race was extremely close with Pierce leading all the way but Gilmour, with a brilliant final downwind was about to pass Pierce within metres of the finish but was penalised for being the windward boat not keeping clear. The second race was close in the first half of the race before Pierce pulled away with a good set at the final turn to win by three boat lengths.

Claudia Pierce on her win today and her third place said, 'We are thrilled to come third, this is our first regatta and we came here with no expectations, so to get on the podium is fantastic. We’ve had an awesome time.'

The final comment went to RO Ted Anderson who said, 'The cream of the competitors rose to the top for the final and it was sailed in good spirits. We hope the guys and girls gained some valuable experience. Congratulations to Royal New Zealand and Dave Hazard and thanks to my race team and the umpires.'

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed] Final Placings

Place / Skipper / Club
1. Dave Hazard (RNZYS)
2. Chris Steele (RNZYS)
3. Claudia Pierce (RNZYS)
4. . Sam Gilmour (RFBYCS)
5. Sam Mackenzie (RPNYC)
6. Stephanie Doyle (RPAYC
7. Sam Ellis (GSC)
8. Milly Bennett (RPAYC)
9. Jaidan Stevens (RSYS)
10. Liam Bennett (RPAYC

For all the results and images visit www.rpayc.com.au/ regatta/2012-harken-international-youth-match-racing-championship/

Thanks to sponsors Harken Australia, marking the 15th consecutive year with HARKEN Australia as naming rights sponsor of the event. 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.

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