Sunday turned out to be a thrilling finish for young Kiwis in New Caledonia in the disciplines of Match Racing and Junior Bic Techno Windsurfing.
The Kiwi Lion Foundation Youth Match racing team of Chris Steele, Jay Prestt and Stew Dodson had a hard fought win against Australia in the Match Racing finals. 14 year old Patrick Haybittle of Murrays Bay blasted his way into second place of the New Caledonia Bic Techno Nationals.
Noumea turned on a more traditional trade wind day of 15 knots building to 25kts. Plenty sun, speed and spills. The match racing saw Chris come from an overnight score of one nil down in the semi finals to win against the favorite New Caledonia team. This set up The Kiwis with a final series against the well drilled Australia team.
During one prestart the Kiwis were head to wind alongside and to the left of the Australians. They back winded the jib, eased the main and tried to circle in a tight right turn inside them to get on their tails. The Australians shortly after did the same move and circled left without giving room. During the maneuver the boats collided. The jury saw this as a legal move by the Australians and awarded the Kiwis an on the water penalty.
Because there was damage they also gave the Kiwis a 3/4 point penalty. The Kiwis protested this and had a hearing between races. After a lengthy deliberation the Jury wherein agreement of Steele's maneuvering and argument. The 3/4 point penalty was dropped.
This set up the day for a thrilling finish in 25 kts. Race 4 saw the Kiwis win a penalty against the Australians. From shore we saw a wildly out of control Kiwi boat in difficulty. To this untrained eye the main was out one side, the jib goose winged out the left. Then the spinnaker got caught in the spreaders. Chris was getting his hands ripped apart trying to hold the spinnaker while trying to helm a wildly rolling boat under control. Finally Prestt, Dodson and Steele got the spinnaker dropped and rehoisted. In the meantime the Australians had a bit of trouble doing their penalty turn at the finish line. In the end the Aussies won the race by a wave, a nose, half a metre.... Very close.
In the last race the Kiwis nailed the prestart and won convincingly. Coach Roy Dickson had a wry smile on his face when the boys said 'We won the regatta the hard way!' That night they had a well earned champagne at the beautiful CNC Yacht Club in Noumea.
Meanwhile on the Bic Techno course outside the ACPV club the days courses were changed to include blast reaching! The races consisted of an upwind and two reach marks about kilometre apart, followed by another upwind and same again. The first race was shortened and finished at the top mark. From here a double points, destination, longer race was carried out. A big upwind between two islands and out to a reef about 1km upwind. Then a 2km downwind through the start-line as a gate and then the one kilometre reaches and finish.
Patrick Haybittle started the day in fourth place one point adrift of equal placed second and third. 16 year old Nicolas Goyard (younger brother of Tomas Goyard and current ISAF RS:X youth world champion.) has had a dominant regatta. Only giving away one bullet to Patrick and one to New Caledonian Damien Cervera.
During the big destination race Haybittle held second place at the top mark but was found wanting when they headed downwind at a great rate of knots. The New Caledonias proved their downwind speed and ability to sail lower angles. Once into the reaching sections Haybittle was able to claw back but not enough. Ended up third in the race putting him into third overall.
This set up an exciting afternoon of nerve racking slalom racing in 23-27kts of wind. The course favored Patrick by omitting true downwinds. Haybittle used his dinghy racing skills to get consistent running starts on speed at the favored end. Goyard used his heavier build to hold a more powerful sail setup. Haybittle used his height as leverage. In the two afternoon races they both shot out to an early lead and extended throughout the race. It was astounding to see how fast they sailed with boards skittering across the chop with rigs raked to the deck and fully sheeted on and over the sailors.
Haybittle's two second place races had him overtake local sailor Cervera and into a hard fought second place. All the other Kiwi sailors on their first windsurfing trip learnt heaps about speed sailing. Special note was seeing William Clough of Wakatere being the first 6.8m sailor to the top mark of the destination race. Also to Coral Headey, Carmen Haybittle and Fenella Bowater coming first, second and third girls. They all showed true character and stamina for giving every race a go in trying conditions. They all hope their sport will continue in the Olympic Games. Vive Windsurfing!
All the Kiwis have thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality of the French. They truly have unmatched waters for sailing. Warm trade winds, sheltered waters and fast sailors. A true breeding ground of champions. We are lucky that Kiwis have a such a great relationship with the French in the South Coral Sea.
by Brian Haybittle - 5:17 AM Mon 5 Nov 2012 GMT
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