Please select your home edition
Edition
J Composites 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Sutherland wins Yachting Developments NZ Match Racing

by Andrew Delves – RNZYS PR & Communications Manager 11 Oct 2020 04:55 PDT 12 October 2020
NIall Malone - Yachting Developments NZ Match Racing Championships, October 2020 © Andrew Delves

Graeme Sutherland, Sam Meech, Logan Sutherland, and Micah Wilkinson have prevailed in very breezy conditions to win the 2020 Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championship at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Sutherland has been trying to win this event for quite a few years, so he was very happy to finally get the monkey off his back -

"I first started doing this event when I was a young fella, we had to jump into the MRX's and learn how to play the old man's game and now I'm an old boy and here I am racing against the younger guys in small boats again. It's taken me a couple times to get back into the young man's game, but I loved it, I had a great team and it was some really great racing."

With sixteen teams taking part this year, the fleet was split into two pools, with Pool A racing a round robin on Thursday, followed by Pool B on Friday. Reuben Corbett topped Pool A after going unbeaten with seven wins, and he was closely followed by Leonard Takahashi who had six. Nick Egnot-Johnson and his RNZYS Performance Programme Knots Racing Team were the unbeaten team in Pool B, with Sutherland close behind on six wins.

After the completion of the two round robins, competitors were then ranked for the Super Sixteen Knockout Round on Saturday. The breeze was cranking at around twenty to twenty-five knots, as it did for the majority of the regatta, and the super 16 matchups didn't disappoint with plenty of action, fast downwind sailing, and lots of spectacular wipeouts. However, there were no upsets and the top eight ranked competitors all made it through to the Quarterfinals.

Finals day on Sunday lived up to the hype, with the breeze again pounding in from the North East, allowing for some superb match racing conditions.

The first quarterfinal had Coach Corbett up against his pupil Niall Malone and his RNZYS PP / Royal Irish Yacht Club Match Racing Team. Malone entered early in the first match which gave Corbett an early advantage, an advantage that he held onto to win and take a one-nil lead. Malone then hung in valiantly in the second match, but Corbett and his experienced team continued to extend their lead throughout, going on to win comfortably and become the first team into the semi-finals.

Egnot-Johnson then took on Robbie McCutcheon and his RNZYS Mastercard Youth Training Programme Team in the next quarterfinal. McCutcheon had sailed really well so far in this regatta, showing he has come a long way in the last year and has a bright future ahead of him, and he also sailed well in this match-up. The pre-starts were close and McCutcheon was hanging in there, but the Knots Racing boys showed their superior boat handling around the track to notch up two wins and secure a semi-final berth.

The third quarterfinal between Leonard Takahashi and Jordan Stevenson was a true classic. Takahashi and his Pacific Racing Team took out the first match fairly convincingly, but the second was a real ding-dong affair. Stevenson and his RNZYS PP Vento Racing team were leading the final downwind but were carrying a penalty. They quickly dropped their kite and did their turn right before the finish line, but Takahashi was charging in super-hot and it looked like he might just come through and snatch the victory.

They both crossed the line within milliseconds of each other, Stevenson with very little pace and Takahashi with plenty, but it was the yellow flag that was raised by the race committee, giving Stevenson the win. The boys on board the Vento Racing boat erupted with hoots and hollers as they knew they had just been given a lifeline back into the tie. The final match was also a close one, with both teams hooning downwind to the finish, but this time it was Takahashi who got the last laugh and cemented a spot in the semi-finals.

The last quarterfinal saw Sutherland take on Alistair Gifford. Gifford and his crew of Connor Mashlan, Max South and Crystal Sun pinned a penalty on Sutherland in the first match and went on to win by a decent margin. But Sutherland, who was very motivated to win this event, came back hard to win the next two matches and join the semi-final party.

Corbett, the highest ranked competitor, then chose to race Sutherland in the semis. Sutherland looked dominant in the pre-start whereas the up-until-now composed Corbett looked a bit flustered. Corbett then got a penalty and Sutherland got the better start, and matters were made worse for Corbett when he trawled his kite at the first bottom mark rounding. Sutherland was then able to extend his lead, a lead he didn't relinquish as he went on to win the first match with ease. Corbett fought back though, winning the next match to send it to a win-or-go-home final match. Sutherland again got the better start, and things were made even easier for him when Corbett went to the wrong top mark and virtually handed Sutherland a spot in the final.

Speaking back on shore, Sutherland said that win meant just that little bit more for him -

"It was great racing against Reuben [Corbett], I had a bit of extra motivation there because I really wanted to beat Harry Thurston so that just kept me going and hiking that little extra bit harder. He got a bit flustered in a couple of pre-starts and picked the wrong mark at one point, but we still had some great races. He was probably the favorite all week, so it was great to take one off him."

The second semi-final was between Takahashi and Egnot-Johnson, a match that we've seen plenty of times in previous years in regattas at the RNZYS and abroad, and it didn't disappoint. Egnot-Johnson took the first point with a pretty convincing win, but Takahashi fought back to win the second by a good margin after Egnot-Johnson hit the start mark and copped a penalty. It was anyone's guess who would win the final match, with both boats extremely close throughout. As they both sent it downwind on the final leg it was hard to see who was in the lead, with the Knots and Pacific Racing boy's neck and neck. But it was the 2019 champion who came out on top, crossing the line a couple of boat lengths ahead of Takahashi to claim victory and close this chapter in the continuing story of their epic battles.

The wind was now howling for the grand finale, with Sutherland looking for his first title and Egnot-Johnson looking to go back-to-back. Both teams were ready for a clash of the heavy weights, with one heading home with the spoils and the other left on the canvas.

Sutherland snatched the first match, although it was very close, but Sutherland managed to just stay in the lead throughout and give himself a sniff of the trophy. A sniff, as it turns out, was all he needed. Leading by a whisker at the first top-and-bottom marks, Sutherland then pushed on in the final two legs, leaving last year's champion in his wake to coast over the line and become the last man standing after what was a truly fantastic four days of match racing -

"I've been coaching nick and sailing with him for a couple of years now, he's a very talented sailor and they are a very talented team. They were probably the favorite going into the final in these boats, his boat handling was the best out there all week. But we kept the pressure on him in the pre-start and just backed ourselves around the racetrack, didn't give him any passing lanes, and that was it, job done."

Sutherland was really pleased with his team's performance overall, and says it was anyone's regatta to win out there today -

"I think anyone in the top group could have actually taken home the win today, they were all really solid teams. Every race was a good battle on what was a very shifty race-course in big breeze, it was all on but we just a kept a roll on from the quarters all the way through, so we are really happy to get the win."

The RNZYS would like to thank regatta sponsors Yachting Developments, Race Officer Brian Trubovich and his superb Race Management Team, and Chief Umpire Collette Kraus and her expert Umpire Team. A big thank you also goes out to all sixteen teams who put on a real show with four days of brilliant match racing.

Final Placings:

1st - Graeme Sutherland - Sandspit Yacht Club
2nd - Nick Egnot Johnson - RNZYS PP Knots Racing
3rd - Reuben Corbett - RNZYS
4th - Leonard Takahashi - RNZYS Pacific Racing Team
5th - Jordan Stevenson - RNZYS PP Vento Racing
6th - Robbie McCutcheon - RNZYS Mastercard Youth Training Programme
7th - Niall Malone - RNZYS PP / Royal Irish Yacht Club
8th - Alastair Gifford - RNZYS
9th - Frankie Dair - RNZYS
10th - Albert Stanley - Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club
11th - Sean Herbert - RNZYS
12th - Celia Willison - RNZYS Performance Programme Edge Women's Match
13th - Megan Thomson - RNZYS PP 2.0 Women's Racing
14th - Isaac Mchardie - Royal Akarana Yacht Club
15th - Max McLachlan - RNZYS Mastercard YTP
16th - Will Wright - Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club

Full results click here

Related Articles

TNL Pindar beats COVID to get Caro away
TNL Pindar recently shipped the new IRC52 racing yacht “Caro” from New Zealand to Spain. TNL Pindar recently shipped the new IRC52 racing yacht “Caro” from New Zealand to Spain. In the present climate of increasing shipping rates, lack of space on vessels and Covid Lockdowns this ended up being no easy task. Posted on 16 Sep
SailGP: Kiwis fourth in St Tropez
A disappointing final fleet race proved incredibly costly for the New Zealand SailGP Team A disappointing final fleet race proved incredibly costly for the New Zealand SailGP Team as it missed out on its first podium race by a solitary point to finish the France Sail Grand Prix in fourth position. Posted on 13 Sep
Gifford Wins US Grand Slam – Three-peat for RNZYS
Alastair Gifford podium finish at the Thompson Cup hosted by Seawanhaka Corinthian YC. Alastair Gifford from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) has secured the win at the US Grand Slam by finishing third in the final event, The Thompson Cup, hosted by Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club in Oyster Bay, New York. Posted on 6 Sep
America's Cup: Valencia gets traction for AC37
Valencia sources are confident they have a good proposal for the hosting of the next America's Cup. Sail-World's sources in Valencia say they have made "unexpected progress" over the past couple of weeks, and are confident they have a good proposal for the hosting of the next America's Cup. Posted on 3 Sep
Tokyo2020 - Light winds for Day 1, fresh to follow
The opening day of the Tokyo2020 Olympic sailing regatta will get underway in light wind The opening day of the Tokyo2020 Olympic sailing regatta will get underway in light winds, after the fresher overnight conditions are expected to moderate later today. Posted on 24 Jul
Gladwell's Line: Touchdown in Tokyo
Tokyo2020 may well be the circuit-breaker that returns international sport back to normality No two Olympics are the same, and Tokyo2020 will be notable for having been conducted against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, and may well be the circuit-breaker that returns international sport back to normality. Posted on 24 Jul
Tokyo2020: Burling and Tuke ready for new quest
On Tuesday Peter Burling and Blair Tuke will begin their quest to win another gold medal There's an email exchange between Peter Burling and Blair Tuke from 2008 sitting in the Maritime Museum that represents the start of one of the most successful partnerships in sailing history. Posted on 23 Jul
Two champions combine in Olympic singlehander
Kiwi Finn representative, has the current world champion in his corner for Tokyo2020 Josh Junior doesn't need to look very far to be reminded of how significant it was for him to earn Olympic selection, and have the opportunity to win the Gold medal in the last hurrah for the Olympic Finn class. Posted on 18 Jul
America's Cup poaching season is in full swing
America's Cup poaching season is underway, while others wait the announcement of venues and rules The America's Cup poaching season is in full swing, as the teams with at least some of their funding in place go head-hunting, while others wait for more certainty. Catch Terry Hutchinson's video interview, in this story, at St Francis YC with Ron Young. Posted on 30 Jun
Live Ocean back expansion of Gulf protection
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke back the move to increase the Hauraki Gulf marine reserves Live Ocean's Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have welcomed the move to significantly increase the marine reserves and other protection measures announced by the NZ Labour Government, on Tuesday. Posted on 23 Jun
Lloyd Stevenson Catalyst 45 728x90px3 BOTTOMHenr-Lloyd BLU FOOTERCoast Guard Foundation FOOTER 3