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Little America’s Cup, Sunshine Coast style

by Tracey Johnstone on 4 Sep 2013
Tracey Johnstone
While the big boats are Match Racing in the America’s Cup in San Francisco, the Sunshine Coast is turning on its own little America’s Cup in the form of the Queensland Match Racing Championships.

On the weekend of seventh and 8th September, Mooloolaba Yacht Club (MYC) will host nine teams from New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland contesting the Queensland State Match Racing Youth, Women and Open championships.

The teams are Sandringham Yacht Club skippered by Jack Felsenthal , Royal Prince Alfred skippered by Clare Costanzo, Cruising Yacht Club Team Blue skippered by Evan Walker and Team Yellow skippered by Murray Jones, Southport Yacht Club Youth team skippered by Jack Sherring and Women’s team B by Sophie Lahey, Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club skippered by Klade Hauschildt, Maroochy Sailing Club skippered by Tim Edwards and Mooloolaba Yacht Club skippered by Mitch Kennedy.

The racing will be in Elliott 6 metre keel boats, similar to those used in the 2012 Olympic Games. The race course will be on Mooloolah River, right in front of The Wharf Mooloolaba.

Chief Umpire John Middleton believes the quality of competition will be extremely hot. 'Evan Walker (CYCA) knows more about Match Racing than I will ever know. He has the won Selangor Youth Match Racing trophy in Malaysia and he’s been on the world Match Racing circuit.

'Jack Sheering from Queensland Is very well credentialed. The Sandringham team that I have been mentoring is a very inexperienced team, but they are very good sailors. The Royal Prince Alfred team will trouble the scorers. Clare is a very good sailor.

'I did the event last year and it was very good regatta, but it didn’t have the talent this one has got. This one is nearly as good as an Australian championship,' Middleton said.

The racing will be up close and personal with the spectators able to clearly see and hear the action as the teams go up against each other in a round-robin series. Aggressive boat handling, loud calls, even louder responses and lots of adrenaline, make Match Racing a brilliant event to watch.

'The close-quarter racing in the river will be a challenge. There will be lots of obstruction calls which will keep the umpires on their toes.

'Spectator-wise, it will be sensational.

'It’s a new concept to bring Match Racing in this close to shore. With the mission in mind of making sailing far more accessible, it is excellent. It will put sailing right in the face of the public,' Middleton said.



The Teams

Sandringham Yacht Club - Victoria
Victoria’s Sandringham Yacht Club is fielding a youth team led by 17-year-old Jack Felsenthal. This will be Felsenthal’s first Match Racing series. He was awarded the 2013 Yachting Victoria Youth Sailor of the Year and is a member of the Victorian Institute of Sport’s sailing program. Felsenthal is the current Australian Laser 4.7 class champion.

His crew is Thomas Trotman (18), Alison Dale (20), Massimo Fecht (18) and Philippa Solly (19).

Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club – New South Wales
From New South Wales, 17-year-old Clare Costanzo will lead the Royal Prince Alfred’s Youth and Women’s Team. Costanzo recently competed in the NSW Match Racing Championship finishing in sixth place.

Her crew will be Elyce McClelland (20), Pia Doyle (16) and Rachel Bower (21).

Cruising Yacht Club – New South Wales
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia will be represented by two Open teams.

One team will be skippered by CYCA Match Racing Coach, 26-year-old Evan Walker. Walker won the Australian Match Racing Championship in 2010, the Hardy Cup in 2008 and 2010, and the Warren Jones Youth International Regatta in 2011. His crew will be Jaidan Stevens and John Flannery.

The second team will be skippered by Murray Jones who most recently won the 2013 NSW Youth Match Racing Championship. After the Queensland titles, Jones will go on to compete in the Australian National Match Racing Championship in Sydney in late September. His crew will be Jack Breislin and Matt Stenta.

Southport Yacht Club – Queensland
Queensland’s Southport Yacht Club is fielding two Youth teams.

Jack Sherring will lead the Boys team. Eighteen-year-old Sherring previously won the World Junior Moth Championship and competed in national-level Match Racing finishing sixth in the Open division of the national championships in 2010 and third in 2011. His crew will be John Bucknall (19) and Fletcher Sewell (19).

Sophie Lahey, at 18 years old, will skipper the Women’s team. Lahey placed second in the Women’s division and fourth in the Open division of the Australian Match Racing Championship in 2011 and won the Marinassess Women’s Match Racing Regatta in 2012. Her crew will be Ali Blundell (20) and Georgie Toner (21).

Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club – Queensland
Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club is fielding an Open team led by Klade Hauschildt. The Laser, Etchells and SB20 class sailor won the 2011 QLD Match Racing Championship and placed second in the Open division at last year’s event. He also placed fifth in 2011 and sixth in 2012 at the Australian Open Match Racing Championship.

His crew will be Fergus Gillanders and youth sailors Ben and Hunter Vercoe.

Maroochy Sailing Club – Queensland
Maroochy Sailing Club’s Open team is being led by the club’s vice commodore, Tim Edwards. Edwards and his mature team of Mike Hodgson and Paul Schlawe come to the event with limited experience, but with plenty of enthusiasm for the discipline and the event.

Mooloolaba Yacht Club – Queensland
Host club, Mooloolaba Yacht Club, is fielding a youth team led by current Under-21 Laser Standard World Champion, Mitch Kennedy (20).

Kennedy finished fourth in Open division in last year’s Queensland Match Racing Championships.

He will be joined by Max Quirk (13) who recently competed in the Optimist Class World Championship, James Hodgson (14) who returned last week after competing in the Optimist Class Asian Championship, Lachlan Young (17) and reserve, Andrew Meligonis (15). The team have been training in earnest for the last month, preparing for the home event.

Details of the event are on www.mooloolaba.yachting.org.au

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