Matthew Steven was today crowned the 2011 New Zealand Match Racing Championship beating Scott Dickson 3-2 in a tense and exciting final.
Steven joins Scott’s brother Chris Dickson, Phil Robertson, Dean Barker, Gavin Brady and Rod Davis on the list of names engraved on the New Zealand Match Racing Cup.
The final day of racing was in complete contrast to Saturday’s when only one flight was sailed due to a distinct lack of wind. What little wind did find its way out on to the course was soon consumed by the rain which descended over the fleet in the final stages of the third flight of Round Robin Two. In contrast, Sunday’s racing saw an average 18 knots sou’west breeze which ensured the championships were completed.
Scott Dickson, representing Long Beach Yacht Club in California, led the competition from day one and finished the two Round Robins with only one loss under his belt. Dickson earned the right to choose his semi-final competitor and opted for Tugdual Piriou who was at that time making his way to the airport! Piriou and his crew from Cercle Nautique Caledonien in Noumea knew they had to return home on Sunday, as one of the crew is a Heart Surgeon and has a pacemaker operation to perform on Monday! Dickson was thereby granted an automatic place in the finals.
Matt Steven and the Wellington Spirit Yacht Racing team, having finished second after the Round Robin competition, made up the second semi-final against the RNZYS Lion Foundation Youth Programme team skippered by Benny Butcher. The Wellington Spirit Yacht Racing team were without Chris Jones who dislocated his shoulder just before the one and only race on Saturday. They had to forfeit that race in order to bring Jones ashore. Logan Fraser was granted permission to replace the injured Jones, who had to contend with watching the proceedings from ashore.
Steven beat Butcher by 14 seconds in the first flight, and were gifted the second finals spot after Butcher’s team lost a crew member overboard and dropped their spinnaker onto the bottom mark. Two nil to Steven with a finishing delta in the second flight of 1 minute 32 seconds.
Understandably, Dickson and his crew were feeling confident having won through to the finals in such a convincing manner. It was obvious they were intending to keep up their winning ways by beating Wellington Spirit Yacht Racing by 17 seconds in the first flight. Steven won the next two flights going 2-1 up. Flight four was a very tight race which saw Dickson edge ahead to grab the win by 19 seconds to tie the finals up at 2 apiece.
All square - one flight to go. Dickson and his team made an uncharacteristic mistake in the pre-start to land a penalty for a port starboard infringement, however Dickson led off the start line and indeed for the majority of the race, before Steven rolled him to windward in the last 50 meters. Dickson still had a 360 penalty turn to complete and could do nothing but watch as Steven crossed the line ahead and put his hands firmly on the New Zealand Match Racing Cup.
'Wellington Spirit Yacht Racing is thrilled to win the New Zealand Match Racing Cup after many years of trying. Three years ago we finished fifth, last year we were second, so we are extremely happy to finally have our hands on the trophy' an elated Matt Steven said after the race.
Scott Dickson was gracious in defeat and was pleased with the way his team sailed. 'Obviously the finals are where it counts and Matt and his team sailed a great final without any mistakes. They were on the top of their game and able to capitalise on that and come out holding the trophy'.
Wellington Spirit Yacht Racing
(Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club)
Chris Jones (replaced by Logan Fraser on Sunday)
(Long Beach Yacht Club California)
1st – Matthew Steven
2nd – Scott Dickson
3rd – Benny Butcher
4th – Tugdual Piriou
5th – Samantha Osborne
6th – Sharon Ferris-Choat
For further information including crew lists, honour board of past winners and daily results, please visit the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron’s website: www.rnzys.org.nz/sailing
For further information on the New Zealand Match Racing Championships, please contact: Kelly Gilkison, Sailing Manager, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Tel: (09) 360 6809 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org