Team Panama Jack reports from the Warren Jones Regatta in Perth, WA:
Going into the final day of the Warren Jones Regatta we had the right to choose our semi-final opponent. After a little bit of deliberation the whole crew agreed on choosing Robert Gibbs, who we have raced against many times and we thought we had an advantage in the prestart. This turned out to be the right decision with the first race being a very close race but the next two Phil dominated the pre-starts with us winning all three. Putting us through to the Finals.
By now the breeze had started to increase to 12-14 knots and after a tight series in the other semi-finals our final opponent had been decided to be Evan Walker. Our team was quite happy about this as we thought as the wind strength increased we became more confident in our boat handling and speed againast Evan.
Due to time restrictions the finals series had to be reduced to a best of 3 format (first to win two races) .
Race 1 was close all the way round with Evan leading from the start all way through to half way down the last run with multiple double tacks being frequent. We were close enough on the last downwind to take his wind and actually passed him after a big luffing dual. He then tried to do the same thing to us and partially succeeded but then tried to gybe onto starboard in front of us without completing which resulted in a double penalty and a hole in the side of his boat for him, with us taking the race.
Race 2 was also close with us coming off the start line with a penalty against us but we then managed to eek out a lead that looked to be enough to complete our penalty turn. Until our second batten came out of our main sail and then our pit man (Will Tiller) fell over board. After all this we still had the lead and we tried to fit our turn in but Evan passed us. He held on well in the final run with more luffing battles to take the race.
Race 3 was the decider and we knew we could win it as long as we got an even start. Phil did superbly controlling Evan in a number of dial ups to force a penalty on him and to still win the start. All we had to do was keep our noses clean and the regatta was ours. We managed to do this and took the series 2-1.
The team was estatic with the result as this is a regatta we have really targeted. We'd like to acknowledge all the other teams who pushed us hard through out the event, especially Evan Walker and Keith Swinton. The win means that we now qualify for the Danish Open (World Match Racing Tour Event) and the Open de Espana (Grade 1 event) that are both big stepping stones for the team and will pit us against the best match racers in the world.
Big thanks must go out to Stefan Goldwater from WIDEX and the RNZYS for helping us attend this regatta. Also Chris and Margret Chapple for being wonderful hosts (2nd year in a row) and the Royal Perth Yacht Club and WA Yachting Association for putting the event.
The team is now in Sydney preparing for the Hardy Cup starting on Monday.