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The semi-final placings went down to the wire at the 2017 Warren Jones International Youth Regatta. Racing started on time at 1230hrs on the now familiar shifty Easterly course in 5 - 8 knots with streaky puffs and plenty of taxing shifts. Late in the afternoon the breeze did shift into the South allowing for the more traditional longer course with fewer boundary issues.
However the game has moved up a gear and it was the boat handling and tactical nous of these young match race teams that was the difference between a semi-final place and an early ride home.
Chris Steele (36 Below Racing) showed plenty of his match racing skills, despatching the majority of his opponents until he came up against his arch rival Sam Gilmour from RFYBC. This contest was full of flavour with Steele coming from behind with a penalty to force a dial up at the windward mark on the final rounding. He held Gilmour to port for ages before bouncing him off on to starboard pointing the wrong way, whilst Steele eased sheets and rounded with a few boat lengths lead. However this counted for nothing after a slow kite hoist and a big pressure hole stopped him in his tracks. Gilmour tacked back and with a clean hoist was back on Steele’s stern. Despite his best efforts to slow the game down on the run to the finish, Gilmour did not fall for any of Steele’s tricks and crossed to take the gun. Chris and his team from RNZYS had done enough to cement the first place in the semis.
Sam Gilmour (Neptune Racing) cruised through his matches with comparative ease and once he had got the better of Chris Steele had bagged his place in the semi-finals. He did however lose his penultimate match against the rapidly improving Matt Jerwood and his Redline Racing team from SoPYC.
“Really looking forward to tomorrows racing, looks like the breeze is going to be up and obviously we have raced against a lot of these teams particularly Matt Jerwood and Chris Steele, who have both qualified into the semi’s so who ever Chris chooses in the semis, they are all going to be close matches.”
“It will be interesting to see if Chris picks his compatriot or whether he picks one of the Aussie teams, its always good to see that trans Tasman rivalry going on and this year is no different to any other year.”
“In these Easterly courses its been anyones game, its been really light, it hasn’t put a huge premium on crew work, its meant that most of the teams have been able to come out and race hard against the more experienced teams.”
“If the breeze is up that definitely gives the home team a big advantage because they know how to sail the boat. So I think its been really good sailing in front of the city, its been a unique experience and I have really enjoyed it so far.” Sam
Matt Jerwood spent the first two days of the regatta getting used to monohull racing again and despite being one of the more experience match racers on the circuit, he struggled in the early rounds. His team however came out all guns blazing when it mattered to notch up a string of victories including beating Sam Gilmour and Chris Steele in his final two flights. The only blot on his score sheet was the match against Harry Price (Down Under Racing) from CYCA in Sydney, when he had Australian gold medallist Tom Burton on the back of the boat in the hot seat for company. Tom’s girlfriend Emma sat on the back of Price’s boat and the match went in favour of the Sydneysider when Matt’s spinnaker dropped to the deck in a bodged hoist. With his final two wins he eased into the third semi-final spot.
“We were definitely a little shaky at the start of the week, we haven’t done a lot of keel boat match racing this year or last year, we still love the keelboat match racing though. After day one we knew we could improve so we worked on a few communication things and I got my feel back a bit and we are on our way. Its really been great racing here and having Mikael Lundh come and help us out, its been a fantastic week.” Matt
That left one more available place which was to go down to the wire. George Anyon from the RNZYS Performance Programme has punched above his weight here in Perth and certainly attracted the attention of a number of the coaches watching the racing. George was looking fairly steady for the final slot until he came up against Harry Price’s team. This could have been the decider and after a quite fiery encounter, it went in favour of Price.
With a one point advantage Anyon had to sit out the final matches and bite his nails whilst Price had two final matches to sail, both of which he needed to win. Unfortunately for him they were against the two top teams, Chris Steele and Sam Gilmour. In the final match of the day in the fading light, as the sun set over the skyscrapers of the City of Perth, Harry Price and his team from the CYCA Sailing Academy, fell agonising short handing the final semi-final place to George Anyon.
So to the semi-finals to be staged on Friday afternoon from 1400hrs and the grand finale following shortly after, all streamed live onto the big screen at Elizabeth Quay in the Port of Perth.
The winner of the round robin stage gets the right to pick his semi-final opponent and the big question on everyones lips is, who will Chris Steele pick?, his fellow kiwi from his home yacht club RNZYS or one of the two WA sailors, Sam Gilmour or Matt Jerwood?
This will be determined at the annual Warren Jones Foundation Gala Luncheon fund raising event, attended by the Hon Julie Bishop MP with guest speaker, Australian gold medallist Tom Burton OAM, at the Royal Perth Yacht Club before racing commences.
Originally Published at Warren Jones International Youth Regatta Online.
Written by Jonny Fullerton, Warren Jones International Youth Regatta
Marketing, Communications and Events Officer
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