Rooklyn wins his second Australian Open Match Racing Championship
by Will Ryan CYCA Youth Sailing Academy Coach on 6 Oct 2012
Ashlen Rooklyn won back to back Australian Open Titles, while Krystal Weir secured her first Women's Title on the waters of Port Philip Bay from Sandringham Yacht Club on Sunday. Competitors were met with the best conditions of the event, with the breeze getting lighter as the day progressed allowing the teams to race with full sail configuration ensuring close racing and fantastic tactical duels.
The grand Final Match-Up - Australian Open and Australian Women's Match Racing Championships Pam Scrivenor CYCA Staff
After completing the round robin, CYCA's Jay Griffin was left to race local sailor Michah Shuwalow in the semi-finals, while Rooklyn faced Irish teams racer Sam Hunt who was representing the Darwin Yacht Club.
Rooklyn stepped up to the challenge managing to dispose of Hunt in two races in the best of three series despite being given a double penalty in the prestart of race 2 after confusion relating the race draw. After clearing one penalty immediately at the start, Rooklyn then managed to close the race back down on the upwind, gaining an equalising penalty back on Hunt in a port-starboard situation near the top mark, before then engaging Hunt in a luffing duel near the top mark, gaining another penalty on Hunt as Rooklyn managed to set his kite cleanly and sail away for another clear win.
Griffin and Shuwalow's duel went to a third match after Shuwalow managed to equalise in the second match. Griffin returned to the form that won him the round-robin, and started cleanly to extend throughout the race, booking another all CYCA final. The CYCA has won the Australian Open Title for the past eight consecutive years.
The Women’s title was decided first with Krysal Weir and her team of Kylie McKillop, Rayshele Martin, Tina Babbage and Nicole Douglass showing good speed and local knowledge to secure the Women's Title over CYCA's Kirstin Norris in three straight races. Jessica Hansen and her mix of Queensland and Melbourne sailors secured the petite final and third place over CYCAs Tara McCall.
The Opens finals did not disappoint, with penalties in the opening dial-up! With Rooklyn initially on the back-foot, he recovered well to start tight to leeward, from there he was able to control the game and extend enough to clear his penalty on the second upwind.
Rooklyn managed a better pre-start in Race 2 with a starboard entry helping his cause. He was again able to start in a controlling position and was able to work away from Griffin to move to 2-0 putting Griffin in a sudden death position if he wanted to have a chance at the title in the best of five series.
After a delay waiting for some damage to be repaired to the boats, Griffin came out firing. Rooklyn was left struggling for options as the start gun approached, finally managing to scrape around the pin end of the line, however Rooklyn was still down speed giving Griffin the upper hand early on. Both boats engaged in a fierce tacking duel, with many umpires commenting post racing on the precision and high skill level of the sailors as Griffin managed to just stay in control and lead around the top mark - but Rooklyn was hot on his tail. With great sets on both boats the action continued with multiple gybes as the boats surfed down the Port Phillip Bay waves with about 12-14 knots of wind.
As they approached the bottom of the course Rooklyn managed to roll over the top of Griffin taking his wind, however while Rooklyn called for proper-course the umpires were hesitant to make a decision, eventually giving a green flag allowing Griffin to lead Rooklyn around the bottom mark by only a metre or less.
Again the boats engaged upwind; however it was Rooklyn who was able to show good boat speed and sailing smarts as he was able to convert a small left hand shift to take Griffin’s stern, but this allowed him starboard boat rights at the top mark which gave him the opportunity to control Griffin as they approached the top mark. As both boats tacked, it was Rooklyn with a superior set, allowing him to quickly build his lead from a few metres to a comfortable three lengths which he was able to protect and build as the team of Ash Rooklyn, Byron White, Will Ryan, Murray Jones and Jack Hubbard crossed the finish line, ending a great regatta and giving them the title win!
This was Rooklyn's second title after winning in Southport last year; and follows the win of White and Rooklyn in the Australian Youth Match Racing Championship the previous week in Hobart.
Rooklyn commented 'I'd like to thank the Sandringham Yacht Club and the Umpires and Race Committee for a great event in trying conditions. It has been fantastic to defend this title and a big thank you to my crew and the CYCA Youth Sailing Academy'.
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