Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Evan Walker (AUS) covers Phil Robertson (NZL). Image copyright Aline Van Haren.
by Peter Campbell
Defending champion Evan Walker has come through a rough and tumble opening day of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s Hardy Cup 2009 with a slender lead over the international fleet.
Sailors under the age of 25 from Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Finland are contesting the ISAF Grade 3 match-racing event, sailing the Squadron’s fleet of Elliott 6 sports boats on Sydney Harbour.
Yesterday’s opening racing, which saw all competitors complete six flights, was sailed on a hot and humid day in a freshening breeze that started in a 5-10 knot easterly that built to a 20 plus knot nor’easter in the late afternoon.
A highlight of the close competition was the excellent performances of the two women’s crews from the Australian Sailing Development Squad, competing to gain experience in the Elliott 6s which have been chosen as the women’s keelboat class for the London 2012 Olympics.
Walker, representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, finished with 4.5 points, just ahead of Australian women’s match-racing champion Nicole Souter and Amanda Scrivenor, both representing the Australian Sailing Development Squad.
Silja Lehtinen (FIN) and Matthew Steven (NZL) are on the start line at the gun. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.
Both women teams finished on 4 points, as were Adrian Short and Phil Robertson, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.
On 3 points after six flights were Lucinda Whitty representing the RSYS and Tom Spithill from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
Tom Spithill (AUS) tries to pass Lucinda Whitty (AUS). Image copyright Aline Van Haren.
Walker actually won five of his six flights, but he was penalised half a point for causing damage to the boat of opponent David Chapman from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in an incident during their match.
Highlight of a day of hard tactical racing, particularly as the nor’easter freshened, was the match between Walker and New Zealander Phil Robertson, fresh from his victory in the Warren Jones Regatta in Perth last week.
Evan Walker (AUS) and Silja Lehtinen (FIN) approach the windward mark. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.
After an aggressive start in which Robertson came out best, Walker got to the lead up until the first bottom mark rounding where he received a penalty. On the second windward mark approach Walker tried to set a trap for the Kiwi to clear his penalty but the Kiwi did not fall for it.
Walker then held the lead going into the final spinnaker run, in which neither boat set spinnakers, but in two close encounters, the Sydney sailors received their second yellow flag and the Kiwi team blasted through to get the gun.
Nicky Souter (AUS) beats Peter Nicholas (AUS). Image copyright Aline Van Haren.
Nicole Souter’s performance throughout the day was most impressive, winning her matches against Phil Robertson, Peter Nicholas (Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, WA), Matthew Steven (Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club, NZL) and Finland’s woman sailor Silja Lehtinen, who won only one match yesterday.
Racing is continuing today to complete the first round-robin, following by two mini round-robins racing of the top 6 and bottom 6 places tomorrow and the semi-finals and finals on Thursday.
Great conditions on Sydney Harbour on day one of the racing. Image copyright Aline Van Haren.
Note from SailRaceWin: The 2008 final results for the Hardy Cup (an ISAF Grade 3 event for sailors under 25 years of age) included some (Mirsky and Minoprio) who are now in the top ten in the world in the ISAF Open Match Race Rankings.
2008 Hardy Cup Results
1. Evan Walker / Cruising Yacht Club of Australia
2. Adam Minoprio / Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
3. Laurie Jury / Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
4. Keith Swinton / South of Perth Yacht Club
5. Josh Junior / Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club
6. Stuart Pollard / Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron
7. Torvar Mirsky / Royal Perth Yacht Club
8. Nicole Souter / Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club
9. Robert Gibbs / Royal Perth Yacht Club
10. David Chapman / Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron
11. Nina Curtis / Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club
12. John Bäck / Royal Swedish Yacht Club