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Young Guns line up for the 2021 JESS Match Cup

by JESS Match Cup 22 Jan 03:44 PST 21-24 January 2021
Prieto-Low leads in a previous JESS Match Cup © Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club

During these unusual times for sports competition, Swan River Sailing supported by the Warren Jones Foundation are hosting the WA Tour. It includes a series of five events, targeted to youth sailors, sailed over thee 2020/21 Season in Western Australia.

The WA Tour is structured as a series with aggregated scoring, overall prize money and handicaps to encourage fierce competition, dedication, hard work and skill development for local youth sailors. Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club are pleased to have their annual JESS Match Cup as part of the series.

Raced in identical BW8 yachts on the Swan River in Perth, the World Sailing Grade 4 Open match racing event has attracted seven local teams. They include seasoned match racing skippers and teams who are new on the scene. Racing begins today and runs over the weekend with the finals scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Freshwater Bay.

Representing Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, skippers Will Boulden (Alpha Racing Team) and Ethan Prieto-Low (Swan River Sailing Team) have matched each other many times over the years and have contested several JESS Match Cup and Warren Jones International Youth Regattas against each other.

Boulden will be looking for a win at this event with his experienced team of Tom Blaauw, Niall Morrow, Damian Garbowski and Alex Negri. Currently ranked 40 in the Open Match Racing rankings his best position has been ranked 7 in the world placing second at the 2018 Youth Match Racing Championship and twice at the Grade 2 Warren Jones International. The rivalry will continue with Prieto-Low looking for a win in the event too after placing second and third in previous years.

Winner of the 2020 JESS Match Cup, Conor Nicholas (Ocean Ranger Racing) will represent Royal Perth Yacht Club and is sure to provide some fierce competition throughout the event. The World Champion F18 crew has teamed up with fellow F18 sailor Kai Colman and experienced dinghy champions Chris Charlwood and Finn O'Dea. Nicholas commented that "conditions are looking great for the event, its nice to see the moderate forecast so that we can enjoy the match racing with no team having a particular weather advantage". He is pleased to challenge Boulden who was absent from the event last year and says it's great to have two female skippers involved and more girls in match racing locally.

The two female skippers in the event and both are experienced helms but relatively fresh to the match racing scene. Lucy Alderson's Akamai Race Team is an all-girl crew from Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club. Hayley Clark, Holly Hunt and Emilia Horn have a background in skiffs, Ishbel Laing is a competitive keelboat sailor who also races offshore, while Mia Lovelady and Zoe Thompson are single handed dinghy champions.

While preparing to get on the water Laing commented "we're making the most of these unusual times and are grateful to have the opportunity to race such great events locally against some really top teams. We really appreciate the support of our fellow Club members at RFBYC who have helped us get here. This will be our first match racing event". The Akamai girls have contested two keelboat events together and are the current Women's Keelboat State Champions in WA.

Forte Racing is a mixed team helmed by Kaiella Taylor, they represent Royal Perth Yacht Club. She has a varied background in dinghies, skiffs, multihulls and Etchells and will race with Connor Shaw, Caitlin Shaw and Will McAullay.

To round out the list, Will Drew (Intrepid Racing) and Marcello Torre (Columbus Racing) are young skippers with a lot a match racing experience. Both have been part of the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club Sailing Institute match racing squads for several years. After a short break, 17-year-old Will returns to the scene with his crew Jonathon Everett, Grayson Downes, Rowan Kehal and Vass Katsatis, the team established in 2016. Torre (19) has many local events under his belt including helming in three Warren Jones International Youth Regattas. His team includes Owen Ready. Andrew Henderson and Richard Maher.

Held in 2018, the inaugural JESS Match Cup was named in honour of the history of Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club's JESS programme. It had been a unique annual event from offering young sailors the opportunity not only to improve their skills but to develop their character and leadership qualities. From 1988 until 2016 around 160 young sailors participated in JESS.

Perfect weather conditions in Perth are forecast for the three day event. There will be excellent viewing over the natural amphitheatre of Freshwater Bay from the Clubhouse. Follow the progress of the teams on social media and results, event information and full team lists on the event website

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