Tuesday, 24 November 2009
Reece and Thurston battle it out on the first downwind leg on Day Three of the Harken. Image copyright Tom Spithill.
by Damian Devine
The three New Zealand teams dominated the top three places after the completion of Stage One in the 2009 HARKEN INTERNATIONAL YOUTH MATCH RACING CHAMPIONSHIP on Pittwater today. After 20 flights over the two round robins, it is RNZYS's Harry Thurston, with one loss today, on top of the leader board from RPNYC's Matt Steven and RNZYS's William Tiller in third.
Harry Thurston and his crew of Daniel Pooley, Codie Banks and Scott Burling were elated to be at the top of the ladder leading into the semi finals. "Yeah, pretty stoked as this is my first time sailing on Pittwater. It's pretty fluky conditions out there and our strategy has been to get good starts, minimise the mistakes and maximise the gains, and cover when in front, which we did," said Thurston back at the host Club The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club at the completion of racing. On the semi finals tomorrow he said, "Well, we start from scratch, it's a whole new ball game but the plan is to keep it rolling. We're feeling quietly confident."
Thurston eyes up the opposition in the pre-start on Pittwater. Image copyright Tom Spithill.
Thurston and his team are being assisted in the coaching ranks this week by legendary NZ Yachtsman Roy Dickson who, on his fourth visit to the RPAYC for the HARKEN, is caretaking for their normal coach Gary Pilkington. Thurston said, "Roy's been awesome, taking notes and telling us where we're going wrong. It's really helped." Roy added, "they've sailed well, but it's not over yet."
Rounding out the top four was 18 year old Jordan Reece from the RSYS who was the only person to beat leader Thurston in the second round, doing so by a 10 second margin in the second last match of the round robin. Reece, following a disappointing Round One, finished strongly dropping only one match in Round Two, to finish with six wins from seven races.
"After a pretty ordinary Day One, the crew have been focused and relaxed and just sailing smarter, trying to get all the little things right. We're sailing well now and we hope to carry that into tomorrow's finals."
Start line action on Day Three of the 2009 HARKEN on Pittwater. Image copyright Tom Spithill.
In one of the key matches today, Reece and Thurston had another good battle around the course. After an even start with Reece to leeward of Thurston, Reece forced Thurston to tack early as they beat to the top mark. On the downwind run, Thurston rolled Reece before Reece forced Thurston over the layline and then rolled him coming to the bottom mark. Reece took the lead at the bottom mark and then covered well on the final upwind and downwind runs to win by four boat lengths. Reece now has the upper hand over Thurston having beaten him twice in the Round Robin stage.
Despite the Bureau's forecast of fresh Southerly winds early, it was a very still start to the day with PRO Ted Anderson, forced racing under AP for over 90 minutes waiting for the South East to build pressure to a consistent 8 knots. "It was fluky conditions early as the breeze swung from left to right before steadying at 150-160 at about 6-8 knots, allowing us to set a course. Anyway, all in all a good day and we achieved what we wanted to do. We're on track to finish the top four teams tomorrow, so more than happy."
Stevens and team beat their way up to the top mark. Image copyright Tom Spithill.
At 11:33am the attention signal went up and racing got underway with the aim to complete Stage One and Two, the final two flights of the Round Robin and then the matches for fifth to 8th placings.
In Flight Nine Pete Nicholas defeated Harry Tiller in a close finish whilst Olivia Price defeated RPAYC debutant Reece Tailby by 20 seconds with Reece defeating Thurston. The final Flight, consisting of only one match, saw Matt Steven maintain his consistency in Round Two to defeat Pete Nicholas by five seconds.
So at the completion of the Stage One Round Robin, the placings read as follows:
1st Harry Thurston (RNZYS) 11/3
2nd Matt Steven (RPNYC) 10/4
3rd Will Tiller (RNZYS) 10/4
4th Jordan Reece (RSYS) 8/6
5th Peter Nicholas (RFBYC) 8/6
6th Olivia Price (CYCA) 6/8
7th Jason Waterhouse (RPAYC) 3/11
8th Reece Tailby (RPAYC) 1/13
It was disappointment for Pete Nicholas who was pushed into fifth place after a countback, with Jordan Reece defeating him in their match up yesterday. It will be Pete's final HARKEN as he turns 21next year.
In the fifth to eighth placing round robin matches the results saw Price, Waterhouse and Nicholas win two of their three races. With skippers carrying their points from Stage One into Stage Two, the final places were as follows:
5th Peter Nicholas (RFBYC)
6th Olivia Price (CYCA)
7th Jason Waterhouse (RPAYC)
8th Reece Tailby (RPAYC)
Sunday will see the completion of the semi finals, petit final and the five match final. The forecast is for a 15-20 knot NNW breeze with the mercury tipped to top 40 degrees before a late Southerly change and an evening thunderstorm.
Harken Youth International Match Racing Championships