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Knots Racing win YDL NZ Match Racing Champion title

by Andrew Delves - RNZYS 6 Oct 2019 04:50 PDT 6 October 2019
Egnot-Johnson and Corbett Final Match 2 - Yachting Development NZMRC Finals Day © Andrew Delves

Knots Racing have been crowned 2019 Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championship winners after defeating Reuben Corbett's team two - nil in a very tricky final.

Nick Egnot-Johnson, Sam Barnett, Zak Merton and Bradley McLaughlin reigned supreme on what was a very light and shifty day for match racing.

Due to light and ever changing winds, racing was intermittent throughout the day, which led to the race committee shortening the semi-finals to a first to win two format. Egnot-Johnson, who was already one up over New Caledonian Tom Picot in their semi-final, cruised to a two-zip victory with ease this morning, building up a big lead and sailing smart to secure his finals spot.

In the other semi-final, Jordan Stevenson and his RNZYS Performance Programme Vento Racing Team hit back against Corbett, also sailing well to lock their semi-final up at one a piece. Stevenson seemed to have the best boat speed out of the two, but when the deciding match got under way it was Corbett who got the better of the start. Corbett then showed his yachting prowess to maintain a lead through the race, leading at all marks and sailing away to join Egnot-Johnson in the final.

Racing was then delayed for what seemed like an eternity - although it was probably more like two hours - but a slight breeze reared its head and Harold Bennett and his Race Management team dropped the AP flag and the much-anticipated final got under way.

The RNZYS PP Knots Racing boys then slipped into focus mode, this is the title they have craved for some time and they weren't going to let the conditions - or their coach - get in the way of taking it home. Egnot-Johnson started the first match well, winning the duel throughout the race to hold onto their lead and move one step closer to lifting the trophy.

The second match was where they really earned their victory. The wind was incredibly light by this stage and they weren't able to enter the start box on time, incurring a penalty and handing Corbett a handy advantage. The race was then a light wind match racing battle of the ages, and the Knots boys looked down and out when they were parked up heading into the bottom mark with Corbett kite-up sailing past them. However, they didn't give up, and found a nice pocket of breeze to get themselves right back into the race, making a double gybe on the final downwind leg, catching up to Corbett where they were then able to miraculously offset their penalty.

After all that hard work Egnot-Johsnon wasn't going to let this one get away from his grasp, holding onto his lead on the final downwind leg to cross the line and win his first ever Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championship title.

From the outside some may think it was a shame, that after three days of solid breeze and tough conditions the final day was decided on a day like today. But this was a true test of match racing know-how, and Knots Racing showed they had what takes to get the job done and are extremely deserved winners.

Speaking on the dock at the RNZYS at the end of the day, Egnot-Johnson was elated with how the team got over the line -

"It feels amazing to win our first national title. We've had this on our list for a long time and to finally tick it off is just brilliant. It was so stressful out there today, the wind kept changing around and it took a lot of effort to win. Reuben sailed really well in those conditions and we had to give it everything we had to win, especially in that final match. I'm just really happy for the team and can't talk them up enough, we finished the regatta with a nineteen win - one loss score card which is a record for us, just a fantastic event and we can't wait to come back and defend our title next year."

Full Results www.matchracingresults.com

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