Harken International Youth Match Racing:Hazard & Steele into all Kiwi final on day 3

Saturday, 24 November 2012


Defending Harken international youth match racing champion Dave Hazard and Chris Steele both representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will battle it out in an all Kiwi final tomorrow after convincing wins in their semi finals in the 20th Harken International Youth Match racing championships on Pittwater today, hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.

Their wins guarantee the coveted Rockin’ Robin Trophy will go back to New Zealand for the fourth consecutive year. For Hazard, a win tomorrow will see him join the likes of James Spithill, Seve Jarvin and Michael Dunstan, the only other dual winners of the Harken.

Hazard defeated Claudia Pierce, also from the RNZYS 2-0 in their semi final, winning both matches comfortably. The only incident in their semi was that both misjudged the start to be called OCS by RO Ted Anderson in their second race. Hazard showed why he is the highest ranked match racer in the competition and the defending champion after some smart racing today and should go into tomorrow’s final a slight favourite.

Pierce, on other hand, with her all female crew and in her first regatta has had a good week sailing with her crew working well and gaining some invaluable experience. She had no expectations coming into the regatta she can ensure the Kiwis from the one Auckland club fill the podium if she wins tomorrow’s petit final.

In the other semi final, it was a win to Chris Steele, the second highest ranked competitor with a 2-0 victory over WA’s Sam Gilmour, representing the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club. The first match was fairly tight with Steele leading all the way to win by a couple of boat lengths. In the second, whilst neither gained the ascendency in the pre start, it was Gilmour who was first over the start line to lead on the first beat to the top mark, but Steele soon took the lead to win comfortably in the end.

Gilmour will meet Pierce in tomorrow’s three match petit final whilst the final between Hazard and Steele will be the best of five. After yesterday’s extremely close and exciting race between the pair it’s guaranteed to be a cracking final and could go either way.

Coach of the three RNZYS teams Guy Pilkington said, “The aim this week was to get two teams into the semis so to get three has exceeded all expectations. All three teams have done a great job this week and it’s nice to know the trophy’s going back to NZ. Both Dave and Chris are sailing really well, so it’s going to make for a fantastic final tomorrow whilst Claudia, in her first regatta, and with no expectations on her has had gained some great match racing experience.”

Conditions were benign early as the competitors left the dock with the forecast  showing a 15 knot Nor’ Easter, instead a light 5-8 knot breeze got them underway shortly after 1030hrs on a course set at 045 just off the north east corner of Scotland Island..The breeze got up to gusts of 14-15 knots for the semi finals.

Also sailed today were the consolation fifth to tenth placings round robin with competitors carrying their points from the first round robin into stage two as the six remaining competitors sailed each other once with the highest points deciding the placings. Overall there were five flights scheduled for this stage of the competition.

Leading going into stage two were Sam McKenzie from Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club and Stephanie Doyle from the host club the RPAYC who began the round robin on four points. Milly Bennett, RPAYC and Sam Ellis, Gosford Sailing Club were on the next rung on three points whilst Jaidan Stevens, RSYS and Liam Bennett, RPAYC on equal two points.

McKenzie won all his five races to finish in fifth whilst Doyle won three and lost two to McKenzie and Sam Ellis. She finished sixth with Ellis in seventh one point behind. Milly Bennett and Jaidan Stevens both had two wins today to finish eighth and ninth respectively with Milly’s brother Liam finishing in tenth position.

Final placing after the 5th – 10th round robin (including points carried over from round robin one):

5th  Sam Mackenzie (RPNYC)– 9/14

6th  Stephanie Doyle (RPAYC  - 7/14

7th  Sam Ellis (GSC) – 6/14

8th  Milly Bennett (RPAYC) – 5/14

9th  Jaidan Stevens (RSYS) – 4/14

10th Liam Bennett (RPAYC – 2/14

Tomorrow will see petit and final sailed amongst the top four contenders with racing scheduled to commence at 1100hrs.

Conditions are forecast to be 8-13 knot North Easterly for the final day of competition.

By Damian Devine,

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 24 November 2012 )