Team Wild Oats Chardonnay/Musto finished second at the Grade 2 Harken Women’s Match Racing event in Sydney, securing them an invitation to next month’s BSport ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championships.
With a competitive fleet including some of the World’s best female match racers, the Grade 2 Harken Women’s Match Racing event was going to be a lot tougher than previous years. Also up for grabs was the final invitation for the ISAF Women’s Match Racing World Championship. With only two teams eligible for the invite, our goal was to reach the semi-final and hopefully secure the invitation.
The first day of racing began slowly as we were beaten by compatriot and world number three, Katie Spithill. However, things picked up and we recorded a total of five wins for the day and a loss to world number one Claire Leroy, to put us into third position overall at the end of the day.
The second day saw us complete another eight flights, however, in the final flight of the day against Claire Leroy, both teams started prematurely. An error by the race committee caused both flags to come down indicating both teams had returned and correctly restarted, despite the French team not correctly restarting.
The race continued and on the final spinnaker hoist of the race, our trimmer, Kylie McKillop failed to duck during a gybe-set, and received a sickening blow to the head. She composed herself and sailed the remainder of the race despite her injury, only to be retrieved from the boat after the finish, and taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital. Soon after returning to shore, the result of a redress hearing regarding the race against Claire Leroy meant that the race would be resailed the next day.
Following the drama of Day 2, we backed up our performance to remain undefeated in Round Robin 2. The resail against Claire Leroy would determine the winner of the Round Robin and give the power to choose your opponent for the semi-final to the successful competitor. We sailed well and hiked hard in the moderate nor-easterly breeze to defeat Claire and top the Round Robin.
After a brief interval for lunch, Nicky chose world number two, Lotte Meldgaard-Pedersen as our opponent for the semi-final.
Our start was delayed due to Lotte sustaining damage to her boat, but we soon got underway in a building nor-easter. We defeated Lotte 2-0 to book ourselves a Final against Claire Leroy and her team.
On the final day of racing, we were greeted with a light sou-easter. In order to find breeze, the competitors were towed up to Rose Bay and racing began just before 1pm. Flight 1 saw Claire narrowly defeat us, before the levelled the scoreboard in the second. Flight 3 proved a difficult race as we battled through a crowded Rose Bay; we lost the lead and were defeated with Claire one win up on us.
We took race 4 to even the competition and push the Final to a race 5 decider. After pushing the start line limits in almost every race, we pushed it a little too far and misjudged the start line to find ourselves on course side at the start. We returned, but after giving away the start you can only expect the world number one to capitalise on your errors.
We threw everything we could at her, but she took the final race and the Harken International championship, her third successive championship this year.
We are delighted with our performance at this regatta considering the quality of the fleet, and we are even more excited that we have finally qualified for the Worlds in Auckland. With two good results in the past month preparations are going well, and we look forward to returning to Auckland to compete against the world’s best in our own backyard.
Team Wild Oats Chardonnay/Musto would like to thank our sponsors and supporters; Wild Oats Chardonnay, Musto, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, our parents and families for their ongoing support. If you would like any further information on how you can support our team please contact Nicky Souter at firstname.lastname@example.org