After four days of racing, Chris Steele from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron stole the show to be crowned the 2013 Harken youth match racing champion with a resounding win today in the final on Pittwater, hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
His crew of George Anyon, Rawiri Geddes and Josh Salthouse worked extremely well together to cement a comfortable 3-0 victory in a best of five over Gosford Sailing Club’s Sam Ellis to get his hands on the Rockin’ Robin perpetual trophy for the first time after his bridesmaid finish in 2012.
In the three race petit final, it was the RNZYS compatriot George Brasell, in his first international regatta, with a 2-1 win over the host club’s Malcolm Parker meaning two places on the podium for the kiwis and the third year in a row that Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron take home the silverware. In fact, this win catapults RNZYS past the RPAYC as the club with the most wins in the Harken, with seven, in the 21 year history of the championship.
The 2013 HARKEN event was a challenge for Race Officer Ted Anderson as the weather Gods dictated terms over two of the four days, however, the final day presented a sunshine on Pittwater with a 8-10 knot South Easterly when racing got underway at 1030hrs on a picturesque course in the little pond south of Scotland Island. It was all smooth sailing for the race committee with no delays to complete the regatta.
Today’ s program staged the sail off between 5th to 11th positions and the semi finals, petit and final.
With the 11 teams now four, the semi finals saw stage one leader Chris Steele electing to sail off against second placed Malcolm Parker from the RPAYC leaving third placed Brasell to face Sam Ellis.
Steele defeated Parker 2-0 with Parker showing good signs in the first race beating Steele of the start with a two boat length advantage before Steele managed to out tack Parker on the first beat to lead at the top mark and maintained that for the rest of the race.
In the other semi, Ellis defeated Brasell 2-1 halting any chance of back to back all RNZYS kiwi final. For Sam Ellis from Gosford Sailing Club, this was to be his first final in just his third youth match regatta as helmsman. Ellis was pretty happy with himself saying, “Just stoked, I am thrilled to be in my maiden final as skipper. I finished 7th last year in this event and my aim this week was to podium so I am just so happy to get into the final against Chris.”
Ellis and crew hiking on the tack upwind – photos by Damian Devine
The boat draw prior to the finals had Steele and Parker opting for starboard entry in their first match ups against Ellis and Brasell.
Steele led from start to finish and was undefeated over the four days of competition and certainly showed why he is worthy of his ranking of 22 in the world and the clear favourite coming into the regatta. He sailed error free in the three race final, with excellent crew work, good pre starts and clever upwind and downwind sailing and was never behind over the best of five races, to be the deserved winner.
In a penalty free final, Steel took a comfortable victory after a close start in the first match with a 10 boat length win after picking the shifts on the left hand side of the course to lead at the top mark by three boat lengths. Steele again proved to be stronger downwind pulling away at the bottom mark to extend his lead by six boat lengths. Steele increased his lead picking up another shift half way up the beat to lead by ten boat lengths at the top mark for the final time. He sailed comfortably on the final downwind to maintain his lead lead with the breeze steady at 10 knots.
The second and third match were pretty much a carbon copy of the first match with only a slight wind shift to the right for the second match and then back to the left for the third with Steele dominating proceedings in the pre starts, off the line, keeping pace on the upwinds and the downwinds to win quite easily with another 10 boat lead in match two and by almost a leg in the third match in a near perfect race to win three from three.
Steele on the beat coming to the top mark in the first race of the final – photo by Damian Devine
In the final run to the finish under the appropriately coloured black spinnaker, the kiwis crossed the line at 1435hrs and with high fives all round and the obligatory dive into the water, a jubilant Steele was crowned the 2013 Harken youth match racing champion.
For Steele this will be his third and last Harken and was thrilled to go one better this year to claim victory. Steel commented on the water post race, “I’m ecstatic, this is exactly what we aimed for at the start of the week so we executed our plan perfectly. The boys sailed really well and made all the right calls with the laylines and shifts at the right time, so really happy. We made a couple of mistakes in the semis but made up for it in the final.
“Thanks to Harken for sponsoring the event and supporting youth match racing. It’s been a great week and a great regatta and the Alfreds have made us all feel welcome. We achieved what set out to do, so really pleased and just hope we can carry this form into next week,” added Steele as heads to the harbour tomorrow to defend his Musto Youth Match Racing title he won same time last year at the CYCA.
In the petit final, the win to Brasell placing him on the podium was excellent considering this is his first international youth match racing regatta and is only 18 years old. He snatched victory from Parker in the final race in the best of three after Parker got a penalty on Brasell straight after the start for failing to duck with Parker on starboard. However, Brasell led around the top and bottom marks and on the final upwind extended his lead after Parker went left anticipating a shift and with enough space Brasell was able to execute his penalty near the top mark and attack Parker on starboard to have the advantage going around the mark for the final time. With a boat length lead for the final downwind he was able to maintain that in the run to the finish with Parker trying valiantly to pass.
Parker and crew preparing for a top mark rounding – photo by Damian DevineAlso sailed today were the consolation fifth to tenth placings in a sudden death sail off with Jack Thompson (NHYC) defeating Clare Costanza (RPAYC) to take fifth, Sam Mackay (RPNYC) taking care of Oliver Hartas (CYCA) for seventh whilst Eddie Moult accounted for Zac Pullen to finish in 10th position. Blake Poole (GSC) was placed 11th.
The final comment went to Race Officer Ted Anderson who said, “An extremely challenging week and the weather Gods were definitely not on our side, however, it was sailed in good spirits and the competitors were of a good sporting nature. Congratulations once again to Royal New Zealand and Chris Steele who was a real stand out this week and thanks to my race team and the umpires.”
Place/ Skipper / Club
1. Chris Steele (RNZYS)
2. Sam Ellis (GSC)
3. George Brasell (RNZYS)
4. Malcolm Parker (RPAYC)
5. Jack Thompson (NHYC)
6. Clare Costanzo (RPAYC)
7. Sam Mackay (RPNYC)
8. Oliver Hartas (CYCA)
9. Eddie Moult (RSYS)
10. Zac Pullen (RYCT)
11. Blake Poole (GSC)
Follow all results visit: http://www.rpayc.com.au/youth-development/harken-youth-mr-championship /
For final day image gallery click here
One of the premier events for youth on the match racing circuit, the 2013 HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championship marks the 16th consecutive year with HARKEN Australia as naming rights sponsor.
Their ongoing commitment to the development of youth match racing is a credit to the Northern Beaches leading manufacturer and marketer of quality sailboat hardware and accessories.