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International Youth Match Racing Championship - Semi final sail off

'Chris Steele leads in his semi final against Harry Price - Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship 2013'    Andrea Francolini    Click Here to view large photo

On Day 3 of the Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship New Zealander Chris Steele is one step closer to defending his title and ending his youth match racing career on a high, taking an early lead in his semi-final sail-off against Aussie Harry Price.

Steele, and his crew of Connor Mashlan, Dylan Wichman and George Brasell representing Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, didn’t have it all his way today, dropping the first match of the day – the only match he has dropped this regatta ending his dream run of 30 straight wins from this regatta and last week’s Harken Youth titles.

Cunningham (downhaul) issues cost him in the first match of the day against Murray Jones (CYCA), with the issue reoccurring in the first match of his semi-final against Price (CYCA) but this time Steele came away with the win.

Steele recalled the match against Jones: 'It was really frustrating the way it happened. We had him on the ropes in the pre-start and when we lost the Cunningham on the first beat so we didn’t have as much pace as we should have.

Murray Jones ended Chris Steele’s winning streak - Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship 2013 -  Andrea Francolini   Click Here to view large photo

'We managed to hold him out upwind and then a ferry came through the course. Jones was able to pick up some waves that we didn’t see and he planed over us and got away. We managed to catch up on the run and were much stronger on the second beat. We dialled down and got 6-7 lengths on him.

'We pushed hard for control on the set but unfortunately hit him and copped a penalty. We then got a second penalty when Jones was gybing and we were to starboard of him and there was contact. With the double penalty, we had to immediately undertake one penalty turn and Jones capitalised on that – race over,' Steele added.

Steele won his next two matches, to complete round robin two, which were almost textbook match racing encounters. In both, Steele nailed the pre-start to gain advantage. Finishing the stage on top of the leader board allowed Steele the opportunity to choose his opponent in the semi-finals and he elected to sail against Price.

'Our semi-final was close – We won the pre-start and had good speed up to the top mark and managed to put some distance between us. Price caught up on the downwind run and then we lost our Cunningham again on the second beat.

'I found it quite hard to bounce him as we had lost power but we managed to hold him out and go one up in the semi-finals. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing if I can end my youth career on a high,' Steele concluded.

Harry Price and his crew of Angus Williams, Louis Collins and Matt Stenta, representing the host club, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, finished the day with two wins and two losses, which saw him finish second to Steele at the end of round robin two.

'We had a good match against Carolyn Smith (Newport Harbor Yacht Club) our first match of the day. We got a penalty on them as they entered the starting area and then managed to inflict another one on them further up the course,' Price said

'Our next match against Murray Jones (CYCA) there was never more than three boat lengths in it. Overall today we were really strong downwind but we were playing catch-up some of the time. We put ourselves into a position where we should’ve have been.

'Going into the semis, we had a good game plan but unfortunately we didn’t stick to it – so hopefully we’ll put it in place tomorrow and beat Chris (Steele),' Price added.

It was a day of mixed fortunes for Rawiri Geddes - Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship 2013 -  Andrea Francolini   Click Here to view large photo

Rawiri Geddes and his crew of Alex Dyet, Josh Salthouse and George Anyon, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, finished the round robins in third place after winning two of the last three matches in the round robin.
'Our best match today was against the New Caledonians (Lucas Chatonnier). We had a good pre-start and managed to get a penalty against them. However we hit the top mark so that cancelled out their penalty. We had a good downwind leg – always in pressure and were able to extend our lead and take the match,' Geddes said.

'We lost the first match of the semi-finals against Christophe Killian. We won the pre-start and it was pretty close between us all match. We lost out on the second beat – he rounded ahead of us at the top mark and managed to hold us out and take the win.'

Christophe Killian is hoping to make it through to the finals - Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship 2013 -  Andrea Francolini   Click Here to view large photo

Christophe Killian and his crew of Harrison Vanderwort, Jack Martin, Andrew Lutrell and Megan Roach, representing Balboa Yacht Club, continued their strong form from yesterday finishing the day with three wins and one loss.

'It was a pretty good day for us today with one exception. In our match against Dylan Gore (RYCT) everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We had him pinned on the start line and almost put him OCS but our tiller extension popped off. I was trying a manoeuvre but lost it when we lost the tiller,' Killian said

'We recovered from the start and almost caught Gore at the windward mark; and then we had a bad set and he managed to pull away again. In the semi-finals, Geddes nailed us in the pre-start and we had managed to catch up to him at the first leeward mark, rounding just inches behind him.

'We got out to our own air and were able to pick the shifts, and passed him at the last windward mark to take the win. Hopefully we’ll be able to reach the finals – that’s our ultimate goal. We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing and hope it all pans out for us,' Killian added.

Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson got racing underway on time in a beautiful north easterly breeze of 12-15 knots and completed the remaining three matches of round robin two and the first matches of the minor placing sail-offs and the semi-finals.

'It’s exciting racing – as boats enter the starting area they were planing. The most improved team throughout the regatta has been Christophe Killian and his crew from Balboa Yacht Club. They’re performing well in these fresh breezes (which they’re not used to) as well as adapting to the Elliotts,' Thompson said.

The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting northerly winds of 15-20 knots ahead of an early morning south to south westerly change of 15-25 knots, becoming southerly 20-30 knots in the middle of the day, and then decreasing to 15-25 knots in the early afternoon. Competition resumes tomorrow, Friday 28 November at 1000hrs in the vicinity of Rushcutters Bay, when the remainder of the semi-finals and minor placing sail-offs being conducted prior to the petit and grand finals.

Current standings after the end of Round Robin Two
Position – Skipper Name – Yacht Club – Points
1st – Chris Steele (RNZYS) – 17 points
2nd – Harry Price (CYCA) – 14 points
3rd – Rawiri Geddes (RNZYS) – 11 points
4th - Christophe Killian (BYC) – 10 points
5th - Murray Jones (CYCA) – 9 points
6th - Sam Mackay (RPNYC) – 8 points
7th – Lucas Chatonnier (CNC) – 7 points
8th - Milly Bennett (RPAYC) – 7 points
9th - Dylan Gore (RYCT) – 7 points
10th – Carolyn Smith (NHYC) – 0 points

by Jennifer Crooks


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9:50 AM Thu 28 Nov 2013GMT

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