Tune-up for Youth Match Racing Worlds

Published on February 19th, 2020

The 2020 HARKEN Youth International Match Racing Cup on February 20-23 has a strong line-up of top ranked international teams which will be racing the Elliott 7m keelboats in Auckland, New Zealand. For several of the 14 teams, this event will be a tune-up for the 2020 Youth Match Racing World Championship on February 25-March 1 at the same venue.

Hosted by Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, headlining the entry list is number two in the world Nick Egnot-Johnson and his RNZYS Performance Programme KNOTS Racing Team – who won this event last year. This week Egnot-Johnson has a slightly rejigged crew due to most of his usual crew having aged out of youth competition.

Joining Egnot-Johnson this week is Alastair Gifford, Niall Malone and Jon Barnett – younger brother of his usual crew member Sam Barnett. Egnot-Johnson is coming off two runner-up finishes at the Warren Jones and Hardy Cup regatta’s in Australia, and is keen to get back into the Elliott 7s on his home water.

“I’m excited to be back home, but it’s going to be a big challenge this week as we haven’t ever raced together as a team,” admitted Egnot-Johnson. “The field this week is very experienced, probably the best line-up I’ve seen here which is exciting and hopefully we can do well and qualify for next week’s World Championships.”

The top two New Zealand teams this week will qualify for next week’s 2020 Youth Match Racing World Championship, meaning the five kiwi teams this week have it all to race for.

Jordan Stevenson (#10) and his RNZYS PP Vento Racing Team are back to avenge their runner-up finish in 2019. Vento Racing have come a long way since last year’s event, notably winning the US Match Racing Grand Slam, and are rearing to go this week.

“It’s going to be really good fun this week, we can’t wait!” said Stevenson. “It’s our first regatta of the year so we are pumped to get back into it. There’s some great sailors here so it’s going to be a good test of where we are at and fingers crossed we can sail well and also clinch a spot at the Worlds next week.”

As mentioned, there is a large scope of international teams here this week. The highest ranked is Aurelien Pierroz (#17) from France, who is also competing at the Worlds next week, so this week’s regatta is vital for him to adjust to the conditions here. Similarly, Danish sailor Emil Kjaer (#24) is racing in New Zealand for the first time.

Another kicking on into next week is Australian James Hodgson (#19), although Hodgson has been here before, so it shouldn’t take him too long to get used to the conditions and strong tidal flow in the Waitemata Harbour.

American Jack Parkin (#25) and British sailor Ted Blowers (#61) are the other two internationals competing this week who have entry into next week’s World Championship. Parkin is one of the (if not the) best youth match racers out of the USA, so if he can adjust quickly he will be one to watch out for over the next two weeks.

Jed Cruickshank (AUS, #200), Robin Chantrelle (FRA, #304), Juliet Costanzo (AUS, #163), and Niall Powers (AUS, #188) round out the nine internationals.

Other kiwi teams competing – and in the running for a spot next week – include; Albert Stanley (#157), Oakley Marsh (#74), and Robbie McCutcheon (#234). McCutcheon is coming off winning last week’s Centerport International Youth Match Race in Wellington where he beat Stanley in the final, so is definitely coming up the ranks and could produce a few upsets this week.

Racing will be completed in the Squadrons fleet of Elliott 7 keelboats on the water right outside the RNZYS. Racing will begin at 10am each day. The regatta format will include a full round robin, followed by quarterfinals, semi-finals, petite final, and final.

The Race Committee is led by the very experienced RO Harold Bennett, with Chief Umpire Ryan Parkin leading an experienced team of umpires.

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Source: Andrew Delves

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