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Harken Youth Match Racing Worlds: semi finalists decided

by Andrew Delves, RNZYS 29 Feb 2020 00:20 PST 27 February 2020
Nick Egnot-Johnson © Andrew Delves

An epic third day at the HARKEN 2020 Youth Match Racing Championship, supported by Barfoot & Thompson, has seen Australians Finn Tapper and James Hodgson, as well as New Zealander Nick Egnot-Johnson and American Jack Parkin qualify for the Semi-Finals.

The day began with a repecharge round as the bottom six skippers raced off in a mini round robin for the final two Quarter-Final berths. The racing was incredibly tight and came down to the final flight. Jack Parkin was up against his fellow American David Wood in the final match, with the winner securing the final place in the Quarter-Finals, and it was Parkin who came out on top to win the battle of the Americans which also sent Ted Blowers (GBR) through to the top eight -

"We knew we had to win basically all of the races in the repecharge, and heading into that last one we felt like we were getting on a bit of a role, we felt pretty confident in ourselves and everything was coming together pretty well. Yeah it was great to race against David {Wood}, he's one who's really turned it on in the match racing so it was a good win." - Jack Parkin.

Number one seed Finn Tapper (AUS) then chose to take on Blowers (GBR) in his quarter-final, which he made fairly light work of to win three - nil and be the first skipper into the semi-finals -

"The quarterfinal went really well, we chose Ted {Blowers} who qualified eighth and we sailed great. The second race was probably the most interesting, he led off the line because we were over but he had a penalty to kill and we just hung in there and managed to pass him on the last downwind."

The next Quarter-Final had Tappers' Australian counterpart James Hodgson taking on Emil Kjaer (DEN). Hodgson blew the first race, with Kjaer cruising to a big victory, however that was all that Kjaer had in the tank - with Hodgson pulling it together and fighting off penalties to come back and win the next three matches -

"We had some pretty close racing against them to be honest. We dropped the first one and had a fair amount of penalties on us the whole series so it wasn't the most ideal start to the day, but we managed to claw the next three back and win three - one so I was pretty happy with how we fought back there and finished strong."

In a replay from last week, it was Jordan Stevenson (NZ) who took on Jack Parkin (USA) in the third quarterfinal, but this time the result got flipped on its head. Stevenson came out of the blocks strong to notch up the first win after leading throughout, and the demons from last week must surely have been racing through Parkins head. However, the American fought them off and showed great spirit to lift him and his US sailing team up to another level, storming through the next three races to win them all and book a ticket to the Semi-Finals -

"I was a little scared to be honest because we haven't won many races against Jordan, we certainly haven't manged to get many wins off him in the last two weeks. But everything was just clicking by then, I think we were up to about race eight or nine for the day so we were getting our repetition and everything was coming together. After that first loss we really rallied as a team and then we had three great wins after that."

The last Quarter-Final had Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZ) up against Aurélien Pierroz. Pierroz has sailed well at times during this regatta, but you just had the feeling that Egnot-Johnson - after a bit of an off day yesterday - would be back to his best today, and that was clearly the case as Egnot-Johnson got back to winning ways and dispatched the French team three zip -

"We had a really solid Quarter-Final against Pierroz and his team from France, we managed to be really quick around the course, the boys put in some real good mahi and they were all in the straps off their toes all day and we were just going really quick."

Our top four had now been found, with Tapper choosing to race against Parkin, leaving Hodgson and Egnot-Johnson to have a classic ANZAC battle for a spot in the final, and with light winds forecast tomorrow, Race Officer Harold Bennett opted to get the Semi-Finals under way.

In the Tapper v Parkin final it was the Australian who took charge to win the first race, but as he had done all day, Parkin then fired back to snatch the second-and-final match of the day, which leaves it all square heading into tomorrow.

The other Semi-Final was the same story, with Egnot-Johnson winning an enthralling first match on the line against Hodgson. The second race was also a close one right up until Egnot-Johnson laid the wrong mark, which essentially gifted Hodgson the win -

"The first one was a great race, we had a lead off the start but he managed to catch right back up and we had to employ a bit match racing at the finish and we just pipped him on the line. Unfortunately we were feeling a bit colour-blind in the second race, we looked at the wrong top mark and ended up overlaying by about ten boat lengths so we really handed him that one unfortunately."

With both Semi-Finals now perfectly poised, it's anyone's guess who will make the final, and no one would dare bet on who is going to win, meaning we are in for an extremely exciting final day the RNZYS tomorrow, where one team will be crowned HARKEN 2020 Youth Match Racing World Champions.

Racing will resume at 10am (NZT) tomorrow.

Results available

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