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RNZYS Nespresso Youth Match Racing pulls star field

by Andrew Delves, RNZYS 20 Feb 14:46 PST 21 February 2019
Stevenson leads Tapper on the final day of the 2018 Nespresso Youth International Match Racing Cup © Andrew Delves

Fourteen high calibre youth match racing teams have arrived at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron for the 2019 Nespresso Youth International Match Racing Cup. In what is one of the best line-ups in recent years, we have seven teams from overseas including five from Australia, and one from America and New Caledonia respectively.

Joining these seven international teams we also have seven home grown crews including five made up of RNZYS Youth Training Programme and RNZYS Performance sailors, as well as two teams travelling up the North Island from Wellington.

Looking at the line-up it is clear to see that Knots Racing and RNZYS PP skipper Nick Egnot-Johnson is the early regatta favourite, considering his impressive recent results overseas and his world ranking of 21. Egnot-Johnson, after winning the US Grand Slam last year, has gone on to finish 4th at the Warren Jones Regatta in Perth, win the Hardy Cup in Sydney, and last week finish 2nd at the Centerport International Match Racing Championships in Wellington. Egnot-Johnson is keen to push on and add another title to his collection – “I’m really looking forward to getting back out in the Elliott 7’s and having a crack at winning this event. The team have been sailing well recently and we’re feeling great about how we’re going, but there is a very strong line-up this year so we’re going to have to be right on our game for the entire event.”

Another local talent to keep an eye on is RNZYS YTP sailor Jordan Stevenson, who with his team, won the HARKEN International Match Racing Championships in Sydney at the end of 2018. Stevenson also has Celia Willison sailing with him, as he did in Sydney, who is fresh off winning the NZ Women’s Match Racing Championships just two weeks ago – “I’m excited to get back on the boat with Jordan, I learnt a lot sailing with him when we won the HARKEN last year so I’m looking forward to getting back out there with the boys and seeing how we go. Last week was great but this is going to be a totally different challenge, I hope we can push through and be there come finals day.”

Some strong Australian talent has also crossed the ditch to try and knock the kiwis off their perch, with Tom Grimes from the CYCA the highest ranked at 32. Grimes was a crew member on board when Finn Tapper was skippering this event last year where they finished third. Others who have made the journey across include Niall Powers from the RPAYC, Jed Cruickshank from the Darwin Sailing Club, and our only two female skippers Juliet Costanzo (RPAYC) and Charlotte Griffin (RSYS).

Patrick Harris from the RNZYS YTP and his newly formed Black Fern Racing Team have shown some good signs at recent events, including winning the Darwin International last year, and will be keen to stamp their mark at this regatta.

Travelling from New Caledonia we have Tom Picot who finished 10th last year, but he is sure to move up the ranks this week after doing plenty of racing recently. David Wood is our sole American sailor to bring a team down under, sailing out of the Balboa Yacht Club - and with a ranking of 55th he is not going to be an easy beat.

James Wilson from the RNZYS PP is also going to be putting up a very strong fight this year. Wilson finished 2nd in 2018 when he went down 3-0 to an impressive Leonard Takahashi, but with Takahashi out this year Wilson has picked up two of his crew members in Taylor Balogh and Josh Wijohn, making this a very formidable looking team with legitimate match racing experience - “I’m really keen to go one better and win this year! It’s cool to have Josh and Taylor on board with me because they won last year and know exactly what it takes to get over the line. It’s going to be a fun four days.”

Rounding out the fleet we have two teams from the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in Wellington helmed by Harry Milne and Callum Radford, as well as Oakley Marsh who is representing the RNZYS.

Long range weather reports weren’t looking good, but the conditions are now looking more promising so we should get four days of exciting match racing.

Racing will get underway at 10am Wednesday on the water outside the RNZYS.

Keep up to date with results via: www.matchracingresults.com

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