In their inaugural year as a team and on the world stage, True Blue Racing has proven that they mean business in their quest for a World Match Racing Tour card by 2013.
The team, based out of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and helmed by Jordan Reece with his crew Henry Kernot, Arnau Farras-Knowles and Jaidan Stevens have wrapped up their 2011 racing season with a second place in last week’s Harken International Youth Match Racing Championships hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred’s Yacht Club and now look towards a much bigger and brighter 2012 season as their World ranking continues to climb.
The team’s preparations have already begun for the New Year with the team seeking a sponsor for the 2012 season to help the team reach their goal of a World Match Racing Tour card by 2013 and Tour win by 2015.
At the beginning of the year True Blue Racing was ranked 119th in the world with Reece recruiting two new sailing team members from Australia and New Zealand. Henry Kernot and Arnau Farras-Knowles joined True Blue Racing at the beginning of the year and since then have been key members to the sailing team.
2011 opened on home waters and at the team’s home yacht club. The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s Hardy Cup attracted some of the world’s best Under 25 match racers. For Reece and True Blue Racing they came into the Hardy Cup as one of the youngest and lowest ranked teams in the competition but showed that although they haven’t been match racing as long as some of the more experienced teams that they still know the game and the boats (Elliot 6m) well and finished a respectable fourth after losing their semi-finals 2-1 to eventual Hardy Cup winners Will Tiller and his Full Metal Jacket Racing team of Harry Thurston and Shawn Mason from New Zealand.
February is one of the busiest months for match racing in the pacific with the team travelling to New Zealand for two youth match racing events to close out the month. The first stop was the Auckland International Youth Match Racing Championships, hosted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. This youth match racing event is one of the biggest in the world and is highly regarded as the Youth Match Racing World Championships. This year the event was also using a new class for the first time. The new and bigger Elliot 7 fleet were a natural progression from the smaller Elliot 6 fleet the club had own previously. The boats proved to be hard work but great match racing boats with True Blue Racing finishing third in the event.
The final stop on the New Zealand tour was the CentrePort Wellington International Youth Match Racing Championships held out of the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club. Racing back in the usual Elliot 6, windy Wellington turned on a great show for the international competition from Australia, New Zealand and Italy with True Blue Racing claiming second overall.
After a solid start to the season the team then travelled to Europe for their first world tour event. In May True Blue Racing travelled to Sweden for the GKSS Spring Cup. The event was a qualifying event for the World Match Racing Tour’s Match Cup Sweden and attracted some of the biggest teams vying for a World Tour event. 10 international teams competed although half came from Australia and New Zealand alone. It was the first ever open event for True Blue Racing and also was the first event the team had ever sailed the very powerful DS37s. The event proved a big learning curve for the team as they finished 10th, not the best start to their world tour but a lot of experience and lessons were taken away by the team.
True Blue Racing during the GKSS Spring Cup - Goteburg, Sweden - Jordan Reece
Next up True Blue Racing travelled south to Ravenna, Italy for the Ravenna Grado 3 Match Cup. After a solid three day training camp on the boats (Platu25s) True Blue Racing made a good start to the event but due to lack of wind and time the race committee could only complete the double round robin stage with True Blue Racing finishing second on count back to the overall winners.
For the rest of June and beginning of July True Blue Racing were in Poland for the Polish Match Racing Tour. The tour consisted of four events on a lake just outside the main cities of Gdansk and Sopot. A very shifty and puffy lake plus asymmetrical spinnakers saw a difficult opening round for the team as they never mastered the conditions to finish sixth. Round two though saw the team pick up pace and take out their first regatta win as a team winning the finals 2-0. Round three saw the team fall down the leader board but the fourth and final round of the competition for True Blue Racing and the biggest event on the tour, the 4th Jagna Eliza Trophy saw True Blue Racing return to form to take their second regatta win on the tour, becoming the only team to do so, and finish second overall.
The Polish Match Racing Tour capped off the final events for Europe for the team as they travelled back to London and then onto Chicago for their United States of America tour. By now the teams World ranking had increased and shot up from 119th to 61st in the world.
The team’s goal of being inside the top 50 by the end of the year was getting close. Chicago was the team’s first stop in America.
After being invited to compete in the Grade Two Detroit Cup and Knickerbocker Cup, two events from four which make up the US Grand Slam Series, True Blue Racing competed in the Eurex Match Cup, a qualifier for the opening round of the US Grand Slam Series and an event the team was not invited to – The Chicago Grade 2 Invitational. The Chicago Match Race Centre hosted the Grade 3 Eurex Cup which over three days saw three round robins, semi-finals and finals completed. A good start to their American campaign saw True Blue Racing finish third which was enough to qualify for the Chicago Grade 2 Invitational.
From Chicago the team travelled to Newport, Los Angeles for the 45th Governor’s Cup. This youth event is one of the most recognized youth match racing trophies in the world. True Blue Racing made a flier of a start to the event leading the regatta after the first three days but day four turned into one of the darkest days for the team as they tumbled down the leader board and out of contention for the event title, eventually finishing a very disappointing seventh. It was a heartbreaking blow for the team after such an impressive start to the event.
By now it was August and True Blue Racing moved back into the open division and onto bigger events. Up to now the team had only competed in Grade three events, now the team was competing on the US Grand Slam Series which consisted of only Grade 2 events. The series attracted some of the biggest names in match racing such as Bill Hardesty, Sally Barkow, Laurie Jury, Will Tiller and Beijing Olympic Gold Medallist Anna Tunnicliffe. The Chicago Grade 2 Invitational kicked off the series with True Blue Racing put in their place amongst the star line-up and finished ninth overall.
The second stop of the series saw the Detroit Cup where True Blue Racing’s helmsman Jordan Reece and mainsail Trimmer Henry Kernot picked up Harry Thurston from Full Metal Jacket Racing (the team which won the Hardy Cup and placed third in Chicago Grade 2 Invitational) after Thurston was not needed by Full Metal Jacket Racing for the event. Sailing Ultimate 20s, True Blue Racing made an impressive start to their second grade 2 event with their new crew member Thurston. After the double round robin True Blue Racing had qualified for the semi-finals where regatta leaders Matt Steven from New Zealand chose the team for their semi-finals pairings. It was an all ‘down under’ semi-finals with Laurie Jury and Reuben Corbett, both from New Zealand also making the cut. True Blue Racing continued their impressive run through the semi-finals to win 2-0 and move into the team’s first Grade 2 final. In an epic five match final series True Blue Racing triumphed over Laurie Jury 3-2 and won their first Grade 2 event and their biggest event win of their careers.
The Detroit Cup Grade 2 win moved True Blue Racing up to second overall on the US Grand Slam Series and the event win also saw the team receive an entry onto the World Match Racing Tour’s Argo Group Gold Cup.
The final event on the team’s world tour was the Knickerbocker Cup in New York. Unfortunately due to Hurricane Irene the regatta was cancelled after the first two days as the teams and yacht club prepared for the storm. By the beginning of September the team was back home in Sydney after their four month tour. Next stop was the World Match Racing Tour in Bermuda in October.
In their World Match Racing Tour debut, True Blue Racing put on a good performance in the qualifying stage of the event but couldn’t move onto the next stage and bowed out of the Argo Group Gold Cup.
True Blue Racing during the Harken international Youth match Racing Championships - Sydney, Australia - Jordan Reece
Since then the team has finished third in the Musto International Youth Match Racing Championships in November and were runners up in last week’s Harken International Youth Match Racing Championships.
The team has also risen up the ISAF World rankings every month, being one of the top moving teams of the year. After starting the year 119th in the world, the team now is 27th and is one of the highest Under 21 ranked teams.
Although racing has finished for 2011, preparations for 2012 have already begun. Racing kicks off in Perth with the Warren Jones Regatta before the Hardy Cup in Sydney and the Auckland International in February next year.
2012 will see True Blue Racing once again travel to New Zealand for what will be their final Under 21 Youth Match Racing events in February before hopefully travelling to Korea for the Korea Match Cup qualifier for the World Match Racing Tour, as well as competing on the US Grand Slam Series 2012.
True Blue Racing is currently is search for a title sponsor to help fund the team on their 2012 campaigns and towards their goal of a World Match Racing Tour card by 2013.
If you are interested in joining True Blue Racing and can help the team out in any way then please go to www.trueblueracing.com.au
or drop Skipper and Helmsman Jordan Reece an email at jordan_reece_4(at)hotmail.com