Last week Alistair Read and his RPAYC team competed at the 2023 Warren Jones International Youth Regatta in Perth. This was the first time that the event has been held since COVID and it is widely regarded as one of the best events in youth match racing. Alistair’s team had a mix of experience and youth onboard.
Sailing with Alistair was Juliet Costanzo and Antony Hawke who are also past members of the RPAYC youth development program. The other members of the team were D’Arcy Kemp, Daniel Kemp and Hugo Butterworth who are all currently a part of the Youth Development program.
Unlike most other Australian match racing events, this event uses Foundation36 yachts which are substantially larger and heavy than the Elliot 7s that the team has trained in. Despite the challenge of learning the new boats, the foundational skills provided by the YD program and experience of the older crew members meant that the team could quickly adapt to these new boats. The very short course and shifty breeze in the Swan River made racing very difficult. But the team showed their ability to adapt in the first round robin where they team finished 4th overall.
In the second round robin, the team was focussed on sailing well and securing a spot in the semi finals. The team kept sailing well, but some unfortunate losses made the route to the semi finals much narrower. In the last race of the round robin, the team ended up beating the eventual event winner Ethan Prieto-Low which helped the team into the semi finals.
In the semi final the team was up against the current Match Racing World Champion Nick Egnot-Johnson so it was always going to be a tough match up. Despite two very close races, the team was unfortunately knocked out by Nick.
In the petite final the team would sail off against former Youth World Match Racing Champion Tom Grimes to see who would secure third. In the first match, a strong pre-start saw the team lead off the start line with a penalty on Tom Grimes. The team held the lead around the course and won the first match. However in the next two races the team had a tough time getting off the start line. As with the rest of the week, the leader off the line usually won the race due to the very short course which presented very few passing lanes. Tom Grimes and his team won the next two races and took third overall.
Ultimately, Alistair Read and his team finished the event in fourth. This is a great result for the team given that this was the first time match racing in the boats. The other three boats on the podium have all been to this regatta and sailed these boats for many years. So it is a testament to the team and the skills taught by the YD program that the team could work out how to match race these boats and be highly competitive against some of the best match racers in the world. It also provided a valuable opportunity for some ex-YD sailors to pass on their match racing knowledge to the new generation of YD sailors.