by Lisa Ratcliff
In a rematch of Saturday’s AFL Grand Final, the best from the west coast will meet Sydney’s big name match racing sailors on Sunday when the Wotif.com Australian Match Racing Championship kicks off on Sydney Harbour.
The highest ranked skipper, Torvar Mirsky, and his crew from Royal Perth Yacht Club will take on the state youth champions and the favoured local team lead by Evan Walker, who was recently named Yachting Australia’s Youth Sailor of the Year along with his bowman Kyle Langford.
Team Dunstan leads Seve Jarvin’s crew at the 2005 Australian Match Racing titles - Sailsportz
Defending champion Michael Dunstan from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron is sailing with a heavy crew and given the forecast southerly change on Monday afternoon, he is also a definite threat to the west coast assault.
Pittwater sailor Katie Spithill, who after two days of competition is at the top of the pointscore in the Australian Women’s Match Racing Championship, will be hoping to keep the momentum going when she and her all female crew back up for their second consecutive regatta against an all male line up.
In a late change to the entry list, Michah Shuwalow, a top Laser sailor in his youth and now noted keel boat sailor including competing in two Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races, will skipper the 10th Elliott. He is one of two skippers representing Victoria and will sail for Sandringham Yacht Club.
The four day national championship will commence Sunday 1 October with a training session planned for the afternoon of the AFL Grand Final, Saturday 30 September Some teams have already hinted they will be cutting short their practice time to join the rest of the nation in front of the television for the big game.
For Sunday’s NRL Grand Final, they will have to watch the highlights because it will be gloves off when 10 teams racing identical boats, the Elliott 6 metres, head out to the start line for the first race at 10.15am.
The forecast for the Wotif.com Australian Match Racing Championship, hosted by the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, is for N/NE winds 8/13 knots freshening to 13/18 knots on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning before a strong sou’wester promises to raise the bar.
'Monday afternoon’s strong winds could wreak havoc on the placings. Different days will be good for different teams, these regattas can be very weight dependent,' said regatta organiser Jenni Bonnitcha today.
On Saturday night at the Team Welcome, a spinnaker draw will take place with the list of competitors and their spinnaker colour available from CYCA Reception on Sunday morning.
'We have tried to make this regatta the most spectator friendly so far. Spectators will be able to grab a form guide from CYCA Reception before they head out onto the harbour to watch the competition unfold,' added Bonnitcha.
Chief International Umpire Phil Mostyn from Western Australia will oversee a strong team of 10-12 umpires throughout the regatta and David Tallis, who has just returned from umpiring duties in the lead up to the America’s Cup, will make a guest appearance.
International Race Officer Doug Talty will oversee the experienced race management team.
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3:13 AM Fri 29 Sep 2006 GMT
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