A Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) team skippered by Alastair Gifford has won the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club’s (RPAYC) Harken International Youth Match Racing Championship on Pittwater this weekend, successfully defending the title won by fellow club member Jordon Stevenson last year.
In the final, Gifford’s team of Henry Angus, Chester Duffett, Hunter Gardyne and Seb Lardies defeated the world ranked No. 20 team from Wales, skippered by Matthew Whitfield from Penarth Yacht Club. It means that Gifford pockets the $1200 winner’s cheque, with $800 going to Wales as runner-up.
It did not go all Gifford’s way. He had to fight back from a deficit of two down in the final, but the Kiwis fought back to win the next three matches in the best of five, to take the title.
Gifford said this afternoon: “The standard of competition was pretty high; so overall, it was a pretty hard-fought event.”
On defending the title won by Stevenson last year, Gifford said, “We take pride in the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. We have a good group of guys and girls there - and good program. The Club backs us.
“We knew it was going to be tight competition, so we’re very happy with how we went, especially coming up against the Welsh who are number 20 in the world,” ended Gifford, whose crew went in world ranked 117.
Gifford, though, has plenty of racing experience across the board, including representing New Zealand at the 2014 Youth Olympics, and has raced internationally in anything from Optimists, Bytes and Laser Radials apart from match racing.
Of his team, the confident skipper said: “We had a little bit of practice before we came here, but it’s the first time we’ve raced together.”
Throughout the event, the winners lost only four matches, two in the round robin, and two in the final. In the semi-finals, they took on the RPAYC all-female team skippered by Juliet Costanzo and beat them 3-0, while Whitfield’s Welsh team sailed against the other RPAYC team skippered by Alistair Read. The Welsh team won 3-1.
Tom Spithill, the RPAYC’s head coach, commented: “The regatta went very smoothly. The breeze got up to 22 knots on the first day, and really tested everyone’s boat handling. It was light to moderate for the rest; a good all-round package. It showed who can sail well in all conditions.”
Spithill continued, “We’re very pleased with the standard of the competition. Even the world number 20 had matches taken off him, so it shows how competitive all the teams were - they all come from established yacht clubs with good youth programs in place.
On the efforts of the RPAYC teams, Spithill said, “We are absolutely thrilled we had both RPAYC in the semis. It’s the first time and shows the depth of talent we have. Both teams had the potential to have a crack at this event.
Ten international teams took part in the 27th Harken International Youth Match Racing Championship. Clubs represented were: RPAYC, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (Jed Cruickshank), Darwin Sailing Club (Finn Niemeier) and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, (Hugo Stoner).
The international line-up was completed by Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in New Zealand (Jonathon Barnett) and Ireland’s Royal Irish Yacht Club (Niall Malone).
A Sportsmanship award of $250 went to Jed Cruickshank’s team, while the Social Media prize of $250 was awarded to the team from Wales.
The Harken International Youth Match Racing Championship could not be made possible without the assistance of some two dozen volunteers, local members, as well as the international and national umpires.
Special thanks to Harken, a leading manufacturer and marketer of quality sailboat hardware and accessories, which continues to support this event for a 22nd year.
For all the results, please visit the official website: www.intyouthmatchracingchampionship.com.au
By Di Pearson/RPAYC media
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After two round robins of racing in the Harken Youth International Match Racing Regatta on Pittwater, the top four teams have been identified.
The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Clubs team skippered by Alistair Read and Juliet Costanzo have snared two of the four spots in the semifinals, finishing tied and 4th respectively on 12 wins.
Top ranked seed (World Sailing open ranked 20) Mathew Whitfield representing Penarth Yacht Club (Wales) is ranked 2nd on 14 wins, behind regatta leader Alistair Gifford representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (NZL) on 16 wins.
On getting into the top four a happy Costanzo commented “We (the girls), are really enjoying sailing together. We are not phased on who we get paired up to race against, as we feel like we have a good shot at the 3 higher placed teams!”
“We are hoping that our fellow club members come out and cheer loud for both Alfred’s teams, so we can capitalize on the home team advantage!” commented a spirited Costanzo.
The semifinals and finals are scheduled to take place tomorrow (Sunday 24th November), with racing getting underway at 1000hrs.
Tonight Alistair Gifford, as regatta leader will have the luxury of picking his opponent for the semi finals
To view live results throughout the day, follow this link: https://www.matchracingresults.com/2019/harken-international-youth-championship/
Spithill Media Services
A fantastic welcome ceremony got underway for the 2019 Harken International Youth Match Racing Championship hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. The star-studded line-up of 10 youth (under 23) teams from both local and international clubs came together to socialize, meet each other and members of the club at the pre regatta official welcome function before the competition starts today.
Commodore Michael Lockley welcomed competitors, members & guests to the event before handing over to Harken's National Sales & Technical Manager Callum Cecil who reiterated Harken's support of the event and Harken's ongoing commitment to sailing from the youth & dinghy level all the way through to the Grand Prix & Americas Cup.
World number 20 and the bookies favourite Matt Whitfield representing Penarth Yacht Club, Wales, said he was confident his newly established team could come together to get the top prize “We are really looking forward to getting out on the water, being able to wear shorts and a t-shirt at this time of year is amazing”.
The highlight of the evening was special guests from Australian SailGP Team, skipper Tom Slingsby & Trimmer Ky Hurst; who brought along their newest piece of silverware to add to their ‘poolroom’, the magnificent ‘Sail Grand Prix Championship Trophy (Sail GP).
After both kids and adults alike managed to snap a picture with Tom, Ky and the trophy, they were all inspired by both of their unique challenges and accomplishments as they listened to the top sailors in not only Australia but the world.
The winner of the 2017 Harken, Leonard Takahashi subsequently went on to sail for the Japanese SailGP team. MC Tom Spithill asked both Tom & Ky whether he sees these kinds of high-profile events, particularly the Harken, as a breeding ground for future emerging stars stepping up into the big league, to which Tom Slingsby commented “Absolutely, Kinley Fowler our teammate on SailAus GP is a good example, he has now got his name on both the Sail GP and the Harken ‘Rockin Robin’ Trophy”.
The in-depth Q & A style session was a valuable asset to all the sailors present, with the key points of setting a goal and never ever giving up, combined with the more hours on water the more an athlete will develop their skills.
SailGP is not just about racing at high speeds in 50 footers, they have launched their ‘Inspire” Program for grassroot sailors. Slingsby proudly announced that for Sydney in February 2020 the Waszp Class dinghy will be involved in a pre-race event on Sydney Harbour followed by the SailGP event. SailGP believes that sailing should be truly accessible to all, which is a mentality the RPAYC also believes in. Through SailGP Inspire Learning, young people can get a real taste of the sport with hands-on lessons, mentorship and team building. This is learning by doing, and a step towards skills that last a lifetime, regardless of experience. Inspire learning introduces students at local host venues to sailing as well as the science behind the sport.
For the 50 Harken Competitors out on Pittwater, NSW today, all are chomping at the opportunity to compete in the club’s fleet of Elliott 7 Keelboats and get their names engraved on the trophy. Day 1 of racing kicks off at 1000hrs in what should be a typical spring day with a building Northeasterly seabreeze forecast for the afternoon.
Live Results can be followed at: https://www.matchracingresults.com/2019/harken-international-youth-championship/
Follow the regatta:
On Facebook: @RPAYCYD
On Instagram: @rpayc
On Twitter: @RPAYCYouthMatch
Countdown on and special guests for Harken International Youth Match Racing Championship
An international cast will take to the race course on Pittwater for the 27th Harken International Youth Match Racing Championship, to be hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (RPAYC) from 20-24 November, 2019.
An even split of Australian and international teams will be in line for a cash price of $1200 to the winning team, $800 for the runner-up, while $500 will go to the most improved.
A Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron team, skippered by Jordon Stevenson, took the trophy home last year. Be warned, the home of the America’s Cup is back to compete with two teams whose skippers are Robert McCutcheon and Alastair Gifford.
However, the top ranked crew is that of Wales’ Penarth Yacht Club. Matthew Whitfield’s team is 20th in the official World Sailing Match Racing Rankings, followed by an Australian team from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, skippered by Hugo Stoner, ranked 103rd.
Other clubs represented include two from the host, RPAYC, to be skippered by Juliet Costanzo and Alistair Read respectively, with one each from Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (Jed Cruickshank) and Darwin Sailing Club (Finn Niemeier).
The internationals line-up is completed by a team each from Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in New Zealand (Jonathon Barnett) and Ireland’s Royal Irish Yacht Club (Niall Malone).
In a major coup for the event, after registration and practice racing on Wednesday 20 November, special guests Tom Slingsby and Ky Hurst will put in an appearance at the Welcome Function where they will take part in a Question and Answer session on SailGP.
Slingsby and his Australian SailGP crew, including Hurst, won the inaugural SailGP this year and the pair is looked up to by sailors around the world for their various sporting achievements.
The event highlights where this current group of youth sailors can end up down the track. It also supports the importance of encouraging youths to continue on with competitive sailing and to dream big, as did previous competitors who have gone on to carve a name for themselves.