James Hodgson, Harry Hall, Louis Schofield & Nick Rozenauers have claimed the 2019 Australian Youth Match Racing Championship for the first time, defeating Finn Tapper, George Richardson, Jess Grimes, Emma Harrison and Jake Liddell 2-1 on Sydney Harbour.
It was third time lucky for Hodgson, who till today was undefeated. Hodgson and his crew from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia went 15-0 through the round robin and semi-finals, but came unstuck in the opening race of the Finals against fellow Club member Finn Tapper.
Tapper came from behind in the opening race to deliver Hodgson his first loss of the event in the first to two Finals. Earlier in the day, Tapper also won his semi-finals 3-0 over Will Sargent from Tasmania.
In the petit-final, controversy ruled throughout with Alistair Read black flagged in Race 1 after a wrong penalty flag was flown. This gifted Will Sargent from Tasmania with the early lead but karma came striking back. In Race 2, both boats were even at the top mark, but just after the spinnaker set, Will Sargent’s halyard failed, with his spinnaker dropping in the water and halting any chance of a 2-0 victory.
In Race 3, Sargent composed himself and came out firing, sailing higher and faster to eventually seal the final podium spot in third place.
It was always going to be tough day for all the competitors, with a strong southerly on the forecast which arrived just after midday. Coming through at 30 knots the race committee had no option but to stop racing for 2 hours.
When racing did eventually get back underway the Finals took all three races to determine a winner. Hodgson clawed back in Race 2, but only just beat Tapper after a finish line infringement saw Tapper penalised.
In the final winner takes all race both boats started evenly with Tapper to windward. A close beat to the top mark saw the boats neck and neck with Hodgson only gaining the advantage as they approached the top mark.
With the breeze now shifted around to the south-east, both boats chose opposite sides on the downwind leg which didn’t pay for Tapper. Hodgson took a six length lead and never looked back, taking his first Australian Youth title after finishing runner up for the past two years.
This is now the fifth consecutive year the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has won the title, and a third year in a row of securing the top 2.