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Harken Youth Match Racing Worlds: James Hodgson (AUS) crowned Champion

by Andrew Delves, RNZYS 1 Mar 00:21 PST 27 February 2020
Celebrations for Hodgson's team © Andrew Delves

Australian James Hodgson and his crew of Harry Hall, Louis Schofield, and Nick Rozenauers, have been crowned HARKEN 2020 Youth Match Racing World Champions after defeating American Jack Parkin three-nil in the final.

The Semi-Finals were poised at one apiece when racing got underway this morning in very light and shifty winds, and it was Parkin and Hodgson who struck first, winning near drift off races in the constantly shifting wind.

When racing resumed an hour or so later, it was the regatta come-back-king Jack Parkin who was first to qualify for the final, winning his third match in a row to defeat Finn Tapper (AUS) three-one. Tapper, who qualified in first after the round-robin, wasn’t quite on his game today and the resurgent Parkin was an expert in the light conditions, and he made the Australian pay. Parkin qualified in seventh, after having to go through a repechage to make the finals, so to end up in the final was quite a feat.

The second semi-final was much more exciting, with Egnot-Johnson striking back with a hugely dominant win to send the tie into a do-or-die final match, and it didn’t disappoint. There were plenty of lead changes throughout and it was the New Zealander who rounded the final top mark in front but only by a whisker. Hodgson didn’t give up though, and after a tit-for-tat downwind leg it was him who had his boat in a better position in clean air. The race came right down to the finish, with Egnot-Johnson looking like he may just win it, but Hodgson was right there to dip over the line in front of the kiwi and secure a spot in the final –

“That fifth race was probably one of the best match races I’ve been a part of. He had us locked out heading into the first bottom mark but then we just managed to make it into the zone coming into the finish line and we probably only got him by a quarter of a boat length, if that. So it was super tight racing against Nick and a big congratulations to him he sailed really well in the series.”

Egnot-Johnson was disappointed not to win and make the final on his home patch –

“That was a hell of a semi-final. Really disappointed we couldn’t get over the line, in the heat of the moment we made a bit of a mistake on that final downwind and if we had had our time back we probably would have done it a little differently. But that’s match racing, all credit to Hodgson and his crew they sailed incredibly well.”

The final was now set, with Hodgson taking on Parkin to decide the World Championship. The afternoon sea-breeze had now picked up and this worked in Hodgson’s favour as he has shown over the course of the last two weeks that he thrives in more breezy conditions. Hodgson was great in the pre-starts, forcing penalties on Parkin in two of the matches, and he was faster around the track too, not letting up at all and cantering on to win the final fairly easily without losing a race.

Hodgson and his crew were ecstatic, with all of them diving into the water just as they crossed the line for the final time. This is the second year in a row that a CYCA team have won the World Championship, and also the second year in a row that Hodgson - and his crewmate Harry Hall - have won the title, after they crewed for Tom Grimes winning team in Russia in 2019, and Hodgson couldn’t have been happier –

“We basically just said we need to keep it simple and do all the basic stuff right and we finally got our pre-starts together for the first time in this regatta. We sailed super clean around the track and did all the basic stuff right and we were super stoked to get the win three zero. I was main trimming for Tom [Grimes] last year when we won, so I’m just really stoked to win it for the second year in a row, and who knows, there could be a third year in a row coming.”

Results available here.

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