Young guns in Sydney

Sam Crichton reports on Super Nines match racing

Tuesday May 6th 2003, Author: Sam Crichton, Location: Australasia
Seve Jarvin’s young CYCA team of Glenn Raphael, Jeremy Wilmot, Marcus Jones and Joel Skelton came from behind to take out the Winning Appliances Young Guns Challenge on a stormy Sydney Harbour last Sunday. Jarvin, the youngest sailor at 17 years of age, defeated Katie Spithill’s team RPAYC and the favoured team RSYS, skippered by Michael Dunstan.

The interclub event, raced in the new Super Nines match-racing format, which uses three boats instead of the normal two boats, as in the America’s Cup. The Super Nines match race format awards one point, to the team that is penalty free, for leading around any turn mark of the race course and three points for the race win.

“Racing is always tight and the team which gets behind in most cases is the most dangerous, as they are free to attack, so the lead is always a tough spot to be as was proven today” said race umpire Bill Pringle, “it certainly makes sailing more entertaining to watch, especially on a day like this”.

As the team practice sailing got underway and with the southerly gusting 30 knots the scene resembled a Stock Car derby with all the teams battling to control their Magic 25 race boats. Michael Dunstan’s RSYS crew were all thrown into the harbour in a spectacular knock down under spinnaker, saying after “we were a bit shaken up but lucky no one was injured, everything was under control, spray everywhere and then we got nailed big time, the mast top hit the water and in we went.”

After three of the scheduled five races had been completed the points table saw Katie's RPAYC leading narrowly on 6 points from RSYS on 5 points and Seve’s CYCA, on 4 points. It was close, with each team having won a race and the difference being in turn mark points.

Then team CYCA made its move in race four, winning all the three turn mark points and the race win. Seve’s team now had their nose in front by three points but with six points up for grabs in the last it was going to go to the wire.

The pre start to the final race saw all teams start with penalties, CYCA one turn, RPAYC one turn, and Michael Dunstan’s RSYS team copped two penalty turns. Katie Spithill got her team to lead around the first two turn marks but was not rewarded with the points as she, like her competition, had decided not to execute her penalty turn for fear of getting out of touch with the other teams.

Who was going to risk a turn to grab some points, Katie decided it was time and threw her boat into a 270-degree spin, which created a chain response from Jarvin and Dunstan. Now the points were on offer again, except for Dunstan who still had one to do. Katie took the last turn mark point by two feet from Jarvin with Dunstan inches away, it was too close to call even at this late stage of the race with the finish line only 300 metres away.

By the time the three teams finally aimed their boats directly at the finish line there was nothing between them except RSYS were now unable to win, it was between Seve’s team CYCA and Katie’s RPAYC. In what will be long remembered as a great team sailing fight back team CYCA took the final win and the Winning Appliances Young Guns winners jackets by one boat length.

Back ashore, race director Denis Thompson said “Today, we witnessed the depth of young sailing talent that is emerging from Sydney sailing clubs, the competitive spirit and match racing skills of these young sailors in weather like that is amazing to watch, you’ve either got to be very competitive or mad to be out there today, I think we saw a bit of both”

The next Super Nines event will see the three teams represent their clubs against six invited international youth teams in September this year.

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