'Pittwater Team - NSW Secondary Schools Teams Racing Champions'
The Yachting NSW Open and Secondary Schools Team Racing Championship was held on the waters of Rose Bay, Sydney last Friday 27, Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 April.
Eleven schools representing the full educational spectrum competed for this coveted title including: Abbotsliegh, Ascham, Brigidine, Canberra Grammar, Cranbrook, Mater Maria (Warriewood) Pittwater High School, Riverview, Scots (two teams), and Sydney High.
Friday’s racing in breezes of two to six knots was particularly challenging for both competitors and on-water umpires to say nothing of the headaches created for race officials as they tried to complete a planned 55 race round robin exclusively for the school teams entered, but by persevering they managed to complete 39 of the scheduled races by the end of the day. Even the remaining 15 races on the Saturday morning were only ultimately completed in very little more than four-five knots by lunchtime.
In addition a combined school / open teams racing round robin was well developed by the close of racing on Saturday evening. This round robin incorporated a further six clubs and University teams from Northbridge, University of Sydney, University of NSW, Woollahra, and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
By 1:00 pm on Sunday two seeded quarter final series were established in which the top eight school teams raced sudden-death eliminations to derive a four team semi finals series from a 'best of three races to determine the finalists; again in a best of three final series. By now the breeze had picked up from a 6 to 8 knots to 15 to 20 knots and the finals series were raced at strategically-challenging break neck speeds.
The tighter placed quarters of fourth and fifth graded round robin teams called for much more tactical racing than the eighth and first graded quarter finals and so the direct challenge of Pittwater and Sydney High ultimately called on the superior boat handling of Pittwater High over the Sydney High (combined schools) team. In the other semi –final Scotts 1 team had out manoeuvred Cranbrook, so it was a best of three challenge between Pittwater High and Scots in the Schools final.
In the earlier light-air round robin Scotts 1 had defeated Pittwater High twice but the tables had turned now that a heavier breeze was pumping and it took only two more races for Pittwater High to close out the NSW Secondary Schools team racing Championship for 2012.
The Pittwater High team members: Oscar (Captain) and Angus Stranack, Travis Thom, Harley Walters, James Farquharson, Adam Badley and Xavier Kampton held their nerve and remained cool to the very end. Coached by Stan Walters (a retired teacher from Pittwater High who previously coached ex-student James Spithill and team to a win back in 1995) who was overcome with emotion.
The success of the Pittwater Team was largely due to the enormous efforts of team manager Leisa Stranack who has devoted countless hours in preparations, fundraising, organising the purchase of new Pacers for Pittwater High, sailing uniforms, spectator boats and a regular training program. Leisa's dedication, unrelenting enthusiasm and all-round positive belief in the team contributed to their success at this elite level.
Well done Pittwater High School, congratulation to all competitors and race officers including volunteers on mark boats, umpires as well as Woollahra Sailing Club and Yachting NSW for a challenging but very successful Team Racing regatta.
by Tracey Walters
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11:03 AM Mon 30 Apr 2012GMT
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