The Warren Jones International Youth Match Racing Regatta began on Freshwater Bay on Perth’s Swan River today, in a shifty south easterly breeze of about 12 to 15 knots.
Competition was tight from the outset. Tristan Brown, last year’s runner-up, accounted for Adam Middleton in his first race, while the next pairing of Ichikawa and Rooklyn went all the way to the wire with the Japanese skipper notching a narrow win.
Matt Jerwood came back from the dead in his race with Will Tiller. Tiller won the start, but Jerwood played the shifts and rounded the top mark ahead. On the second windward leg however, Jerwood allowed Tiller to claim the right hand side of the track, failed to cover and at the next cross near the top mark, Tiller enjoyed a small but decisive lead. Jerwood threw everything at the New Zealander on the downwind leg, gained an overlap, and crossed the finish line ahead by a thumbnail.
The Gilmour brothers Sam and David fought out a classic duel which Sam was winning, but David showed his guile and experience at the end of the first downwind leg to finesse his way to a narrow lead, from which Sam was never given a chance to recover.
Flight three saw a terrible collision between Sam Gilmour and Matt Jerwood. Umpires immediately penalised Gilmour, and since the Jerwood boat was holed too seriously to continue, Jerwood was awarded the match. At a hearing after racing had finished, the jury imposed a further penalty on Gilmour, leaving his score for the match at -1.
Given that the skippers in this regatta represent the next generation of match racing skippers, the standard of racing on the first day has at times been breathtaking. Pre start tactics prove that these young skippers (the age limit is 25 years) have an excellent understanding of their craft. Manoeuvres were very aggressive at times, yet contact between yachts was rare, helmsmen judging their separation within centimetres.
At the end of the first day, Matt Jerwood and New Zealander Chris Steele were the only skippers to emerge undefeated, each recording five wins. Behind them, Will Tiller, David Gilmour, Tristan Brown and Sam Gilmour have all won four races, but because of the way the draw has worked they have different numbers of losses.
The breeze remained in the south east all day, easing considerably in the middle of the day and returning again later.
Ten flights of the 17 required to complete a round robin were run today, mainly because of the time lost following the collision.
by Bernie Kaaks
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3:25 PM Tue 28 Jan 2014GMT
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