Harken Women’s International Match Racing regatta ended with some superb match racing in very trying conditions.
Katie Abbott and her crew of Tara McCall, Angela Farrell and Sophie Lahey representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia have been named the winners of the Harken Women’s International Match Racing regatta defeating New Zealander Danielle Bowater in the grand final by two races to one.
Strong westerly winds of 15-20 knots greeted competitors at the start of the day and these gradually eased to 2-10 knots and swung south forcing Race Officer Denis Thompson to abandon three matches of the finals.
The first match of the Grand Final was commenced with neither skipper reaching the top mark before racing was abandoned when winds shifts made racing unfair. In the re-sail of this match Abbott was over at the start and had to return but made advances upwind to round the top mark ahead of Bowater. Abbott retained her lead downwind with Bowater right on her tail. The wind shifted again and Bowater, who was behind raised her protest flag. With the margin between the two closing Abbott made the most of the dissipating breeze to extend her lead and claim the race win. An on-water protest was heard and Bowater’s request for redress was denied and the race result upheld.
Due to the wind shifts the race course was reset from near Clarke Island to Rushcutters Bay with the top mark laid under Darling Point and 2-7 knots of southerly breeze. In the second match Bowater was late into the start which gave Abbott an enviable position. Bowater jostled for position and ended up to windward of Abbott off the start line.
Both boats headed out to the left hand side of the course with Bowater appearing to have the lead, but Abbott clawed her way back upwind to lead around the top mark as the breeze dropped. Bowater then muscled her way back into contention downwind, taking the lead at the bottom mark and covering Abbott for the remaining leg of the race to take the win.
In the third and what was to be final match, both Abbott & Bowater were over at the start with Abbott able to re-start faster than Bowater. The breeze had built slightly and shifted right with Abbott making the most of the shifts upwind to lead at the top mark. Abbott maintained her lead to the bottom mark, with Bowater headed right after rounding the mark as the breeze funneled in from Rushcutters Bay.
Bowater grabbed the lead in the final downwind leg as Abbott tried to draw Bowater up and cover her air, but Bowater won't be lead. As both competitors gybed simultaneously, Abbott got the better downwind pressure and secured the win by three seconds, handing her the regatta win.
'This is my first win on Aussie soil and it’s great. The finals were very tricky with all the wind shifts – at one moment in the last race I thought that we’d lost it. Danielle looked like she was going to benefit from the massive right shifts we saw but then the shift would drop away,' Abbott said late this afternoon.
'Our crew work was excellent – we built on it each day of the regatta as we had not sailed as a crew together before the start of this regatta. The Race Committee did a great job in very trying conditions,' Abbott added.
For Danielle Bowater (RNZYS) it was a disappointing end to the regatta. 'It was a very frustrating day on water with the fickle breeze and abandonment of races. Katie’s team sailed a great last race to win the regatta., but overall I’m happy with our performance.'
Amanda Scrivenor (CYCA) was defeated by Abbott in their semi-final match 2-0 and then faced Stephanie Doyle (RPAYC) in the petit-final. Scrivenor won the petit final 2-0 and secured third place, with Doyle finishing the regatta in fourth place.
'It was a challenging regatta and it was great to achieve third place with a mixed crew of experience match racers and non-experienced racers,' Scrivenor said.
Anita Trudgen from Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in New Zealand secured fifth place after beating Kat Stroinovsky in the minor placing sail-off 2-0.
Adam Brown Harken Australia’s Retail Sales Manager said at this evening presentation 'Congratulations to Katie and her crew, and to all the women participating in this regatta. We have witnessed some great tactical battles on water over the last few days together with some superb match racing. I wish you all future success in this sport.'
For final results: Click here Standing at the conclusion of Round Robin Stages:
1st - Katie Abbott (CYCA)
2nd - Danielle Bowater (RNZYS)
3rd - Amanda Scrivenor (CYCA)
4th - Stephanie Doyle (RPAYC)
5th – Anita Trudgen (RPNYC)
6th - Kat Stroinovsky (RSYS) CYCA website