James Hodgson and his Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Youth Sailing Academy crew of Harry Hall, Louis Schofield and Nick Rozenauers have prevailed in what were very breezy conditions to win the 2020 Harken Youth International Match Racing Cup.
The four semifinalists were greeted by a strong 23 to 30 knot south-westerly in Auckland, which didn’t let up all day, providing a brilliant spectacle for those watching on the water and challenging but fun conditions for the sailors involved.
The semi-final matchups were set with the French team helmed by Aurélien Pierroz racing against Jordan Stevenson’s Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) Performance Programme (PP) Vento Racing, and Nick Egnot-Johnson’s RNZYS PP KNOTS Racing taking on Australian James Hodgson.
The semi-finals were very similar to the quarterfinals, with both finishing in the minimum three races. It was Hodgson and Stevenson who cruised into the finals with easy 3-0 victories.
Egnot-Johnson then bounced back to sweep aside Pierroz 2-0 in the petite final and claim third, setting the stage for the grand finale.
The first race of the final was a real humdinger, with Stevenson and Hodgson right on each other’s tails throughout, and it wasn’t until the final downwind leg that Stevenson nabbed a penalty on Hodgson and sailed away to take a 1-0 lead.
Hodgson then retaliated in the second race, showing immense speed on the downwind legs to punch back and make it one apiece, assisted by a pretty spectacular wipeout from the Vento Racing boys. The second race took its toll on the boats though, with a few breakages meaning racing didn’t get back underway for nearly an hour
When racing did get back underway it was Hodgson who had all the momentum, and his slick crew didn’t make any mistakes in the final two races, leading both throughout and handing Stevenson a bit of a beating to sail away with the 2020 HARKEN Youth International Match Racing Cup.
Hodgson was thrilled with his team’s performance, especially seeing he beat both locals Stevenson and Egnot-Johnson on his way to the regatta victory. He and his crew now looking ahead to next week’s World Championship –
“Super stoked with the win in the lead up to the Worlds. It was breeze on so we were just focusing on getting the boat around the track and doing all the basic stuff right and I think that’s what got us through in the end. It was basically just set, get her up and going, gibe, and drop at the bottom, so there wasn’t really too much to it except keeping your boat under your mast. But yeah, we just had a fun day and focused on enjoying ourselves, we weren’t too worried about the results, but it went our way, so we are pretty stoked. I think Jordy [Stevenson] got us last time we raced him and so did EJ [Egnot-Johnson] so we’re pretty stoked to get one up on them in Auckland ahead of the Worlds.”
Focus now turns to the next week where the RNZYS will host the HARKEN 2020 Youth Match Racing World Championship, and with a world title on the line and the best youth teams from around the globe competing, we are sure to be in for a real treat.
Full photo album available on the RNZYS Facebook Page HERE
Full Results can be found HERE
By Andrew Delves – RNZYS PR & Communications Manager