Fast starts at HARKEN Youth International Match Racing Cup

Published on February 20th, 2020

Auckland, New Zealand (February 20, 2020) – It was a scorching hot day on the water for the opening day of the 2020 HARKEN Youth International Match Racing Cup, and there were three teams who showed scorching form to find themselves sitting tied at the top of the leaderboard with perfect six from six scorecards.

The first of our unbeaten skippers is Nick Egnot-Johnson (NZL) and his RNZYS Performance Programme KNOTS Racing Team. The KNOTS team looked sharp out there today in what were some fairly light and shifty conditions, however, they still have their toughest races ahead of them.

“We were just having lots of fun out there today to be honest,” admitted Egnot-Johnson. “The conditions were so nice and it was just good to be out there. We sailed pretty well, but tomorrow will be a bit tougher against the higher ranked team’s so we need to keep our momentum going and continue to improve as a team – if we can do that then we should finish the round robin in a strong position.”

The next two unbeaten teams include Australian James Hodgson and Frenchman Aurélien Pierroz. Pierroz’s performance today was impressive, considering this is his first time sailing in Auckland, and he showed he didn’t come all the way down here just for a few free dinners. Hodgson, representing the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, was pretty happy with his performance on day one and seems to have dialled into the conditions quickly.

“Yeah we went pretty well today,” said Hodgson. “It was a bit light but once we wrapped our heads around the tide we managed to stay in front, hopefully there’s a bit more breeze tomorrow.”

Sitting just behind the leading pack with five-wins-from-six is RNZYS PP Vento Racing skipper Jordan Stevenson (NZL). Stevenson and his team looked very relaxed out on the course today and were sailing well, but perhaps they were a bit too relaxed, which Stevenson reckons cost him his one race loss.

“We are really happy with that today, we haven’t had a regatta since we won the Musto last year so it’s good to be back out there,” shared Stevenson. “We got a bit ahead of ourselves in the race against Niall {Powers} and relaxed a bit too much when we had the lead, and credit to him he didn’t muck around and taught us a bit of a lesson.”

Next in the queue is Danish sailor Emil Kjaer who also only lost one race today, another impressive start for an international racing in Auckland for the first time. Kjaer and his crew mean business, as they are also racing next week at the HARKEN 2020 Youth Match Racing World Championships, and a good performance this week will give them a world of confidence ahead of next week’s regatta. Kjaer was fairly satisfied with his first day.

“It was pretty good, we started off sailing against some fairly new teams and it gave us a good chance to get the feel for the boats,” said Kjaer. “Then we raced James {Hodgson} in the last race who we didn’t quite manage to beat, but we had a close race with him and we are looking forward to sailing against him again.”

Not all the teams got in six races, with the remainder of the fleet ranging between three and zero wins, but with half of the round robin still to play – there is sure to be a few changes to the leader board come tomorrow afternoon.

Racing is from February 20 to 23 in Elliott 7m keelboats. 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.

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Source: Andrew Delves

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