Youth Match Racing Worlds form guide
Published on February 26th, 2020
Auckland, New Zealand (February 26, 2020) – Twelve international teams will compete for the Harken 2020 Youth Match Racing World Championship title when it gets underway tomorrow at Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS).
The highest ranked competitor in the field is from New Zealand, RNZYS Performance Programme Knots Racing skipper Nick Egnot-Johnson. Egnot-Johnson is ranked second in the men’s match racing world rankings, and sailing on his home patch, is certainly one of the favourites this week.
Egnot-Johnson has been in good form to start the year, with two second place finishes in Australia and a third at last week’s Harken Youth International, also hosted by the RNZYS. Egnot-Johnson finished 2nd at the last edition of the Worlds, and is motivated to go one better this time around.
“The last event in Russia was frustrating because the wind completely died on the last two days and we didn’t get a proper shot to win it, so we are pretty keen to give it our all this week,” said Egnot-Johnson. “Sailing for a world championship at home, it doesn’t get any better than that! We are just going to enjoy the week and relish the occasion as much as we can and see what happens.”
James Hodgson (#19) and his Australian crew from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) made a big statement last week when they won the 2020 Harken Youth International, brushing aside locals Egnot-Johnson and Jordan Stevenson in the Semi-Finals and Final respectively. Hodgson is now a firm favourite, especially after tasting success and having a week of experience in Auckland under his belt.
“Last week was really good preparation for the worlds,” noted Hodgson. “We just went out there to have fun and focus on enjoying ourselves and learn as much as we could before this week, we were really stoked to get the win but doing well this week is much more important.”
Finn Tapper (#26) leads the second Australian team, also from the CYCA. Tapper has sailed at the RNZYS before, so even though he didn’t race here last week, he will be pretty tuned into the Elliott 7 boats and the conditions from the get go. Tapper also has reigning youth match racing world champion Tom Grimes on board with him which could prove valuable.
The second kiwi team is the RNZYS PP Vento Racing team helmed by Jordan Stevenson (#10). Stevenson has shot up the rankings in the last year after success abroad, including winning the US Match Race Grand Slam and Musto Youth International. Stevenson and his team have a lot of experience together now and will be solid contenders when racing gets underway.
Speaking after his loss in the final to Hodgson at the Harken Youth International, Stevenson was humble in defeat. “That was a bit of a wake-up call to be honest, but sometimes you need that to learn and push yourself harder next time. It’s come at a good time because we will take that home and analyze it and be ready to go for the Worlds next week.”
Two teams from the United States of America are competing with Jack Parkin (#25) and David Wood (#48). Parkin was here last week and finished fifth overall, a good result for his first time sailing on the tricky Waitemata Harbour. Wood wasn’t here last week, but has been here before and also has New Zealander Celia Willison sailing with him who will no doubt offer plenty of local knowledge about the tides and conditions.
Five teams hail from Europe, including; Aurélein Pierroz (FRA, #17), Emil Kjaer (DEN, #24), Ted Blowers (GBR, #61), Ludovic Mori (ITA, #129), and Marius Westerlind (SWE, #227).
Pierroz was very impressive at last week’s Harken Youth International, finishing the round robin with the best record and going on to finish fourth overall. Pierroz is the third highest ranked skipper at this event and will be heading into the week high in confidence. Kjaer and Blowers were also competing last week, with Kjaer finishing sixth and Blowers in tenth.
Also in the field is South Africa with the only female skipper – Sonja Stock.
The Race Officer for this event is the experienced Harold Bennett, with Chief Umpire Remy Donraadt leading an accomplished team of umpires.
Twelve teams from ten different nations will compete in Elliott 7 Keelboats on February 27-March 1 with the format to include a Round Robin stage, Semi Finals, Petit Final and Final. All competitors shall be under 23 years old on December 31, 2020 (i.e., born after December 31, 1997).
Source: Andrew Delves, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron