Sunday 22 November 2009
By Tom Spithill & Damian Devine
HARKEN Final Day - Tiller wins a thriller in an all RNZYS Final!
The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron team of William Tiller, Donovan Neill, Shaun Mason & Arnau Farras-Knowles have won the 2009 HARKEN INTERNATIONAL YOUTH MATCH RACING CHAMPIONSHIP following a day of scorching 40 degree heat and breeze ranging from 10 to 25 knots on Pittwater.
With a new breed of youth match racers emerging, this year's event was as open as a Balinese door on a balmy night. Tiller, however, had recently won the prestigious Governors Cup in the USA and a second in the New Zealand Youth Match Racing Nationals and deserved favouritism leading into the event. With this form edge on his competitors, he led after Day One with a perfect seven from seven, then faltered on Day Two with only three wins from seven to end the Round Robin in third position.
But the finals are a whole new ball game and with one hand on the tiller, consistency and Day One form re-emerged for the final day for Tiller to take the title. The other hand was firmly planted on the perpetual Rockin' Robin Trophy, presented tonight at the host Club, The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club by Commodore Russell Murphy and HARKEN Australia MD, Carl Watson.
New Zealand ended a successful event going one, two, three on the podium with Australia fourth. Harry Thurston and crew, the other RNZYS competitor and Matt Steven from Wellington's RPNYC filled the top three places whilst 18 year old Jordan Reece from the RSYS finished the tournament in fourth position.
William Tiller and crew celebrate after taking victory in the 2009 HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championships - photo by Tom Spithill
The day began with the best of three semi finals with Harry Thurston (RNZYS), the top seed from Stage one selecting fourth seed Jordan Reece from the RSYS, leaving William Tiller and Mathew Stevens (RPNYC) to face off in the other semi final.
Reece looked confident early, winning the start comfortably and taking the first race. Thurston found form again taking control in the prestart and beating Reece in the next two races, therefore advancing to the finals.
Tiller and Stevens were inseparable in their first semi race, engaging in a tacking dual up the first beat. On the first downwind, Tiller maintained an overlap and forced Stevens past the bottom mark. Tiller held this advantage to the finish.
In the second flight Tiller had better boat speed off the line than Stevens, extending his lead to take a comfortable win for a place against his Club mate in the Finals, thus leaving Stevens and Reece to battle it out in the best of 5 petit final.
Stevens and Reece had a close first race with a couple of lead changes throughout. Reece actually rounded the final mark in front of Stevens, but Stevens sailed a great downwind leg pipping Reece at the finishing line by less than a metre.
Reece came into the next match firing and won the start, but as the wind built the lads from “Windy Wellington” were in their element and on the right side of the wind shift to take the lead from Reece again and beat him to the finish.
For their third flight, Reece received an early penalty for not staying clear of the boat ahead. Stevens gained an early advantage and kept a tight cover on Reece to take a third win and a bronze for his RPNYC team.
The first Flight of the finals started in a 5-10knot northerly with Tiller looking more comfortable in the lighter winds, taking first blood by 5 boat lengths.
Tiller dominated the start in the second match leaving Thurston stalled on the line with a 4 boat length deficit, but Thurston chipped away at Tiller's lead which shrank to one boat length on the last downwind. Thurston surged towards the line, but Tiller held on to take the gun by half a boat length.
Thurston got off the line in better shape for the third flight rounding ahead at the top mark. Tiller closed the gap forcing a foul from Thurston as gybing boat. Thurston responded with a strong beat taking his penalty turn and holding the lead to keep his team’s chances alive.
Harry Thurston in action in the HARKEN final versus Tiller today on Pittwater - photo by Tom Spithill
For flight four, the race was won on the first beat as Tiller pushed Thurston off the course into lighter winds, Tiller tacked for the mark and Thurston was forced take gas all the way in. Thurston tried to get back into the match but Tiller could smell victory and sailed a tactically sound race to take the finals three-one and emerge as the HARKEN International Youth Match Race Champion for 2009.
This is the fourth time the RNZYS have won the HARKEN Youth International Match Racing Championships in the 17 year history of the event, the most recent James Williamson in 2007.
For full details go to http://www.rpayc.com.au/harken-youth-match-racing-regatta.html
Thanks to HARKEN Australia for their ongoing support of the event and commitment to youth match racing. Visit www.harken.com.au for more details.
William Tiller and crew celebrate after taking victory in the 2009 HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championships
Harry Thurston in action in the HARKEN final versus Tiller today on Pittwater