The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron team of Dave Hazard, Jamie Dawson, Chris Steele, Michael Boucher and Katie De Lange have been crowned the 2011 Harken International Youth Match Racing Champions with a resounding 3-1 victory over 2010 runner-up Jordan Reece representing the RSYS.The three days of racing were hosted by the RPAYC following another perfect day on Pittwater.
Racing got underway at 1030hrs with the breeze an 11-12kts Nor Easter on a course north of Scotland Island. With the pressure building to 16-17 knots by and to 22 knots by the final race, the scene was set for another glorious day of youth match racing. The 2011 Harken event was going to finish on a high note with Race Office Ted Anderson managing to get through every race scheduled for the event over three days of competition.
In the first flight there were plenty of penalties and a black flag ensuring the day got off to an exciting start. The flight included the fifth-7th place sail off as well as the first round of the semi finals with RPAYC’s Carla Sexton beating CYC’s Tim Forbes-Smith. The match ups in the semis were first placed Jordan Reece selecting fellow club compatriot RSYS’s Nick Howe as his opponent whilst in the other semi it was the two kiwis facing off against each other in Auckland’s Dave Hazard (RNZYS) up against 2010 Harken winner Tim Coltman (RPNYC).
Hazard took victory in the first match with a three boat length victory whilst in the other Reece managed to get two penalties on Howe in the pre start before he was black flagged as the starters gun went giving Reece an easy victory. Hazard went onto account for Coltman in the second match by three boat lengths to march into the final with a resounding 2-0 victory showing that form is everything with a near perfect day yesterday whilst Reece also won his second match with a comfortable five boat length win over Howe to enter the final for the second year in a row.
Windward action coming to the top mark in the fina - 2011 Harken International Youth Match Racing Championships - Damian Devine Click Here to view large photo
In some of the closest match racing ever witnessed in the Harken, there was never more than a couple of boat lengths separating the well drilled crews in an extremely exciting best of five final that saw many lead changes, execution of some classic match racing manoeuvres that kept the umpires on their toes and a building sea breeze. Coming from fourth to first was Dave Hazard who beat last year’s bridesmaid Jordan Reece 3-1 in the final to gets his hand on the Rockin’ Robin perpetual trophy in his first regatta win.
In the first match of the final, Reece managed to inflict a penalty on his opponent in the pre-start and sped off the line to lead. With a tacking duel on the first beat, Reece led by half a boat length at the top mark and maintained that lead on the first downwind. At the top mark for the final time, Reece managed to inflict another penalty forcing Hazard to execute it immediately as he rounded giving Reece the advantage as he pulled away and was never threatened winning comfortably in the end.
In the second match, and the nerves now settled, Hazard and crew changed their plan in the pre-start, keeping it simple and sailing away from Reece to win the start and the race to the top mark. It all came down to the last run the as Reece made up some ground by making a late dash at the finish line but Hazard maintained his lead to win by less than half a metre, in a nail biting finish.
The third match saw another tight pre-start with Hazard getting the advantage off the line with Reece fighting back to lead only just at the top mark and then again at the bottom mark. On the final beat, Hazard managed to squeeze inside Reece as they rounded the top mark for the final time and after a very efficient kite set by both crews they set off for the run to the finish. Halfway down the run, Reece was penalised for proper course as he pushed past Hazard.
Leading and with a penalty to execute before the finish, Reece and Hazard played cat and mouse, with Reece taking Hazard off the course and to the leeward side of the committee boat then back towards the pin, trying in vain to get a penalty on Hazard. Hazard seized the opportunity as Reece raced for the line and went into penalty mode to win by the narrowest of margins.
In what turned out to be the final match in the best of five, and with the breeze strengthening it was another tight match with an even start as Hazard went right and Reece opted left up the first beat. Again there were many lead changes as they went around the track and the tension could be seen on both skippers faces as they tried to gain an advantage. On the final downwind, with Hazard leading by a boat length, Reece tried everything he could to get the upper hand and managed to take Hazard’s wind as they approached the finish and was gaining momentum but it wasn’t enough in the end and Hazard hung on for a hard fought victory.
Hazard who had a 1-1 record against Reece in the round robin stage was thrilled after taking victory, 'Its amazing to win the Harken. It’s been a great few days and this is my fist regatta win so am really happy. Today we managed to hold on but it could have gone either way, Jordan has a lot of experience and is very strong in the pre-starts. We changed our game plan after the first race as we were a bit rattled and on the back foot, so we just tried to keep it simple and sail away in the pre-start. We were pretty confident we could beat him around the track.'
The two crews were never far apart in the 4 race final - 2011 Harken International Youth Match Racing Championships - Damian Devine Click Here to view large photo
'We enjoyed the extra pressure and we just sailed the shifts and pounced when we got the opportunity and took advantage. It seemed to work. The crew really dug deep and Roy (Dickson, the coach) was awesome. As a team, we’re all really pleased and to win here on Pittwater and take the trophy back to New Zealand for the fourth year in a row is a good feeling,' said an elated Hazard.
Runner-up Jordan Reece was naturally disappointed and commented post racing, 'it was a tough day with some tough conditions and some really close finishes. The starts were hard work with the pin end bias and the left hand side was particularly strong today. The conditions on Pittwater for all three days were windier than expected. To their credit, the kiwis sailed really well but it could have gone either way, so I am disappointed, particularly after getting so close also last year.'
In the petit final it was the 2010 Harken winner Tim Coltman RPNYC’s comfortably defeating Nick Howe from the RSYS 2-0. Coltman said, 'Yeah, a great regatta with some tight racing. Slightly disappointed obviously but still happy to be on the podium with the kiwis.'
In the fifth to seventh placing sail-offs, it was host clubs RPAYCs Carla Sexton who picked up two wins from three starts in the round robin and the important one over Sam Ellis (GSC) to take home fifth position. In seventh position was Tim Forbes-Smith (CYCA) rounding out the placings. For 12 year old Ashleigh Robson from GSC, the youngest competitor it was just a 'great experience and I learnt a lot,' she said.
The final comment went to RO Ted Anderson who said, 'I am extremely happy to fulfil our full program. The weather was the main contributor to the regatta and we had some perfect Pittwater weather. The cream of the competitors rose to the top for the final series and there was some good quality, extremely close and vigorous match racing. Congratulations to Royal New Zealand and thanks to my race team and the great team of umpires.' Final Placings
Place / Skipper / Club
1. Dave Hazard (RNZYS)
2. Jordan Reece (RSYS)
3. Tim Coltman (RPNYC)
4. Nick Howe (RSYS)
5. Carla Sexton (RPAYC)
6. Sam Ellis (GSC)
7. Tim Forbes-Smith (CYCA)
A nail biting finish in race two of the final - 2011 Harken International Youth Match Racing Championships - Damian Devine Click Here to view large photo
Dave Hazard, RNZYS on the downwind and on his way to victory - 2011 Harken International Youth Match Racing Championships - Damian Devine Click Here to view large photo
For all the details visit the website at http://www.rpayc.com.au/championship/2011-youth-match-racing-championship
Thanks to sponsors Harken Australia, marking the 14th consecutive year with Harken Australia as naming rights sponsor of the event. Their ongoing commitment to the development of youth match racing is a credit to this leading manufacturer and marketer of quality sailboat hardware and accessories.