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Spithill’s clean sweep

by Lisa Ratcliff on 16 Mar 2008
Harken Women’s International Match Race 2008 - Sydney, Australia - 16/03/08 Kate Spithill’s Team Acuity seriously hiking © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
Australia’s Katie Spithill and her crew have showed ominous form early in the Harken Women’s International Match Racing Regatta, finishing day one undefeated after seven flights.

'We were very comfortable out there,' admitted a jubilant Spithill this afternoon having found her groove straight up on home waters.

'This is our second regatta with this team on the Elliott 6’s. The first was the New Zealand Nationals, which was our learning curve, and today we got to practice what we learnt there. It’s a good start for us and our result is a good test of where we are at, but we definitely still have things to work on…drills to go through.

'Today was about hiking out so hard you almost let go and fell in the water,' laughed Spithill, 25, who hails from the famous Pittwater sailing family that produced older brother James Spithill who eight years ago, at the tender age of 20, signed up for his first America’s Cup campaign as helmsman.

World number one Claire Leroy (FRA) and twelfth ranked club mate Nicky Souter (AUS) both suffered today at the hands of Spithill who is currently number three in the world.

On a postcard Sydney autumn day, racing was postponed until 11am this morning when a nor’easterly breeze filled at seven knots and then gradually built to 13 knots throughout the afternoon.

After following the day’s events, organiser Jenni Bonnitcha agreed that Spithill and her crew of Nina Curtis, Kristen Short and Jessica Eastwell, who are flying the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s burgee, looked 'very polished'.

'Their sail set up and crew work is very nice and their acceleration out of the tacks is lovely to watch. During her flight against France’s Christelle Philippe, Katie positioned herself well on Philippe’s hip and managed to sail right over the top of her,' Bonnitcha added.

In perfect sailing conditions on a clear stretch of water between Garden and Clarke Islands at the mouth of Rushcutters Bay in Sydney Harbour, ten teams representing France, Denmark, Germany, the UK, New Zealand and Australia were eased into the four-day grade 2 regatta by a kindly PRO Denis Thompson.

'In consideration of the overseas teams who have travelled great distances, I thought it best not to push too hard on the first day,' said Thompson who decided to hold over the last two flights of the first round robin until tomorrow morning and to send the women ashore at a reasonable hour after an unseasonably hot Sydney day.

Racing will resume at 10.15am tomorrow morning and go through to Wednesday when the finals will be staged on Sydney Harbour.

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