Please select your home edition
Edition
Henri-Lloyd M-PRO HEADER SW

McCutcheon the comeback king wins the Auckland Match Racing Championship

by William Woodworth/RNZYS 8 Dec 2021 20:19 PST 9 December 2021
GHC Racing winners of the Harken Auckland Match Racing Championships - December 2021 - Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron © Billy Woodworth

The Waitemata Harbour produced dream conditions for sailors for the 2021 Auckland Match Racing Championship supported by Harken.

A gusty Saturday turned into a consistent 20 knot breeze for Sunday, and it was amazing to see the RNZYS’s fleet of Elliott 7’s back out on water in a competitive, classy and consistently close weekend of racing.

After 2 disappointing losses to begin his campaign, Robbie McCutcheon and his GCH Racing crew of Sam Street, Chester Duffett, Jack Frewin and Lauchy Wills reset themselves and came storming back to add yet another match racing title to his collection, without dropping another race all weekend.

With Robbie entering the weekend as a strong favorite due being a defending 2-time CentrePort International Youth Match Racing Regatta Champion, having his first two races end in defeat to Megan Thomson and Josh Hyde came as a surprise to many watching. “As a team we had very high hopes on doing well at this regatta and it was a goal to win it for sure”, said Robbie.

“After such a long time off the water and not being able to race, winning this regatta feels really good for the entire team, especially as our first regatta as GCH Racing. We look to carry this forward and we are really excited for the potential opportunities we have over the coming season.”

The first race of Saturday set the expectations for the racing to come, with penalties being handed out to both Thomson and Robbie McCutcheon at the top mark. Megan outmaneuvered Robbie to start the first race in the regatta and beat him over the line, meaning Robbie had to attempt something to make his way back into the race but overran the mark and allowed Megan to dive inside and remain in front while both appealing for penalties.

“With the first two races of the regatta not going our way we naturally got a bit frustrated with a few things that were going wrong but we made the best effort to calm down and have a chat about the learning before moving forward”

An intriguing Saturday with changeable conditions and heavy currents gave Megan Thomson and her all-female 2.0 Racing crew the driver’s seat after day 1, after deservingly going unbeaten through the first round robin and using a bit of home-water advantage. However, every team was still within striking distance going into the business end of the weekend.

“We have been in these frustrating situations before and we all know how to reset and focus on the next race” said Robbie. “We are always confident in our abilities and our processes as a team so going through the same routine every race always allows us to correct our focus – it just so happened that we carried that confidence throughout the remainder of the regatta”. Max McLachlan and his Mastercard Youth Training Programme team

Despite having a smaller fleet than usual, every team showed up eager to impress in their first major regatta back, with excellent performances throughout Saturday leaving every team still in with a shot at the title going into Day 2.

Unfortunately for Megan Thomson and 2.0 Racing, “the rust of lockdown set in and we weren't quite able to hold onto that winning streak heading into round-robin two” as they fell in their first 2 races. However, 2.0 managed to rediscover their form, winning the remainder of their races and qualifying as the second seed for the finals series.

Josh Hyde continued his purple patch of form from winning the 2021 HARKEN Secondary Schools National Championships, with 6 wins including a flying start that got him a statement win over McCutcheon. The semifinal result and 4th place finish was a goal met by Hyde and his crew who sailed excellently all weekend, especially for a team freshly out of high school.

The Mastercard Youth Training Programme boats, helmed by Max McLachlan and Maeve White, both sailed better than their 1-9 records show and their duels throughout the weekend were consistently competitive. Their battle in the 5th/6th final needed all 3 races to split the boats and showed that both crews have quickly picked up match racing after a lot of time off the water. These crews will continue to improve as they get more experience and opportunities throughout the next few months of regattas and will be worth keeping an eye out for.

The Sunday semifinals were between Robbie McCutcheon and Josh Hyde, with Megan Thomson and Zak Merton’s KNOTS Racing in the other best of 5 match to decide who would challenge for the title of this year’s Auckland Champions. McCutcheon showed his experience and dispatched Hyde in 3 closely contested races, while Merton was able to hold his nerve and avenge his Saturday round robin loss to Thomson.

“We felt like we shot ourselves in the foot with few too many penalties and boat handling errors, which saw us lose to Zak Merton in the semifinals” said 2.0 Racing skipper Megan Thomson.

“We were happy to win two-nil over Josh Hyde in the petite finals and come away with Third place overall for the AMRC”, said Thomson. “We thoroughly had a blast at this event which reignited our love for match racing. The girls and I were stoked to have the opportunity to catch up after so long apart and spend more time on the water together”.

The final between McCutcheon’s GCH Racing and Merton’s Knots Racing was a brilliant matchup of two crews with huge amounts of potential and a goal to carry momentum into 2022. Both teams have been targeting the AMRC to kickstart a busy sailing season for both teams – Knots Racing as a World Match Racing Tour card holding team and GCH Racing looking to follow in their footsteps and target prestigious regattas in New Zealand and internationally.

The first race of the series was incredibly even throughout the whole race, with McCutcheon having the smallest of edges over Merton from start to finish. It was much the same with the second race, where GCH Racing had to cover KNOTS Racing in a picture-perfect example of defending a match racing lead.

“Once we gained the lead, we had to cover them intensely to stay in front because we didn’t want to let them get away and managed to hold on for the win”, said McCutcheon.

With a 2 race deficit, Merton had to get off to a good start to keep their Auckland Match Racing Championship chances alive. However, GCH Racing outmanoeuvred KNOTS in the pre start, with KNOTS receiving two penalties and being trapped outside the pin layline. This resulted in a black flagged race and a victory for McCutcheon and his crew.

“We are always wanting to sail against the best competition we can and we are lucky we can get that here in New Zealand. We obviously had a tough final series against Zak Merton and his crew which was a great learning experience for the team”, said McCutcheon

“We are very fortunate to have amazing support from Garden City Helicopters, Arepa and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron to be given the opportunities to take on the match racing scene and make a name for ourselves overseas.”

Related Articles

Match Racing: RNZYS enthusiastic about Womens WMRC
Women's Match Racing World Championships will see 14 skippers invited to take part in Auckland The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has confirmed that it will be bringing world-class sailing back to Auckland with the 2022 Women's Match Racing World Championships, as the final event of the inaugural Women's World Match Racing Tour, in November 2022 Posted on 18 May
NZ Open Keelboat Champ: Thurston wins in light
“It was very cool to bring the title home after three attempts” - Harry Thurston This year's New Zealand Open saw an incredible turnout from the women's crews, with four of the eight teams being all-female outfits and 2nd, 3rd and 4th place being taken out by Sally Garrett, Leslie Egnot and Megan Thomson respectively. Posted on 17 May
Harken Youth Match Racing Cup preview
New Zealand's best youth sailors ready for Trans-Tasman Test The Aussies are coming! New Zealand's best youth sailors ready for Trans-Tasman Test. Posted on 16 May
Cup Critiqued: Why Irish pull back..Spanish AC40s
Irish bureaucrats claims over pulling out of America's Cup Venue selection are exposed.. Irish bureaucrats claims over pulling out of America's Cup Venue selection are exposed. Spain tipped to enter teams in the Youth and Womens America's Cups acquiring two AC40's Posted on 15 May
Gladwell's Line: AC37 - Chase Zero boat test
After a few weeks of testing in Auckland, there is a little doubt that Chase Zero is a game-changer After a few weeks of testing in Auckland, there is a little doubt that Chase Zero is a game-changer for the America's Cup. We had our first look at the foiling chaseboat, during a mid-week media day on the Waitemata. Posted on 13 May
America's Cup: Hydrogen powered foiler hits 50kts
Chase Zero to date has been clocked at 50.3 knots (93.16km/h) on its 9th day of testing Emirates Team New Zealand have been continuing the successful commissioning and testing of their hydrogen powered foiling chase boat 'Chase Zero' on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf since its launch just five weeks ago. Posted on 11 May
Seawanhaka Cup Invited Clubs announced
Larger and more international than at any time since the late 1980's The Long Beach Yacht Club is pleased to announce the invited competitors for the Seawanhaka International Challenge Cup to be held May 31 to June 5, 2022. Posted on 11 May
Cup Critiqued: Dateline Barcelona.. Spy games.
An off-piste view of the 2024 America's Cup looking beyond the official line. First of a new series taking an off-piste view of what isn't said in the media releases and other Cup matters. This edition looks at Cup bases and when teams will move to Barcelona. The Brits re-purposing their 2021 race boat as a museum piece. and more. Posted on 6 May
Keelboat Nats: Women looking for first open win
Eight of NZ's best keelboat crews will be contesting the event The New Zealand Open Keelboat Championships is poised to bring together the best of New Zealand's crews for the chance to add their name to the extensive honour's list of sailors who have won one of the most important weekend's on the sailing calendar. Posted on 2 May
Emirates Team NZ - The pilot touches down
Glenn Ashby gets some face to face time in Auckland after an absence of 10 months It has been nearly a year since Glenn Ashby has been on the ground in New Zealand. He finally touched down in Auckland this week from Australia, where he has been playing his part in the planning and design of the Wind powered Land speed record attempt. Posted on 29 Apr
SOUTHERN-SPARS-MISSY-FURLING-BOOMS-728-X-90 BottomVaikobi 2021 Boots - FOOTERCyclops 2022 May FOOTER