The Nespresso International Youth Match Racing Regatta was run on the waters of Waitemata Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand from 21-24 February with the local teams of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron being joined from other Kiwi teams along with representation from Australia, Numea and the United States. 14 teams in all leading to a 19 flight round robin to decide the 8 teams to go through to the quarter finals.
That takes a lot of resources and Yachting New Zealand arranged for an Umpires Seminar to run the two days prior to the event meaning an ample supply of umpires to handle the 5 matches per flight. – Work it out 2 umpires per boat + 2 in the wing boat – that’s a lot of bodies. In fact umpire one spun round at the end of their match to become wing 5. Have I lost you yet?
Add to that the mark layers, the RIBs to change crews when required, the Committee Boat personnel and one starts to see the near army of volunteers such a high end event requires, a whole bunch of people who’s motivation is certainly greater than just for the free beers at the end of the day.
The RNZYS is blessed with a fleet of 10 Elliot 7’s or perhaps more accurate to say blessed with a fleet of sponsor benefactors that help fund the Squadron’s youth development programme with extends to the RIBs and so many other aspects required to run such a programme.
Anyway – the boats! The Elliot 7s are like big dinghies or small keelboats (take your pick). They are powerful, nimble, lift their skirts easily and coupled with the weather served up by mother nature provided 4 days of exciting and often close racing which, in the round robin alone required over 90 races.
Racing was fair with, in most matches, a surprising number of penalties – lots of asks though with the green and white much in evidence on umpire boats across the fleet although a couple of ‘blacks’ were seen during the regatta, much to the consternation of the recipients (no surprise).
The quarter finals (first to 3) all went down with the minimum required starts, leading to semi finalists Nick Egnot Johnson (RNZYS) Vs Callum Radford (Royal Port Nicholson Y.C.) & Jordan Stevenson (RNZYS) Vs Tom Grimes (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia).
Nick dispatched Callum 3-0 but the match between Jordan and Tom want all the way with Jordan’s team running out winners at 3-2.
This set up an all “Squadron” final and they went at it hammer and tongs. Honours went to the ‘yellow’ boat in each race (starboard entry) although those victories really didn’t have that much to do with a favoured end entry.
Eventual winner was Nick Egnot Johnson but he knew he had gone through some worthy opposition to be on the top of the podium at the end of the day.
AT the prizegiving, apart from the awarding of the prized the RNZYS was able to announce that the NZ Harken Distributor was taking over the title sponsorship of the event securing this excellent youth regatta for (at least) the next two years.
4 intense (and long days) of racing which showcased that the standard of New Zealand yachting in this discipline looks likely to continue well into the future.