Semi-final showdown

Wilson, Takahashi, Tapper and Stevenson book semi-final tickets on Day Three of the Nespresso Youth International Match Racing Cup.

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The semi-finalists were decided on Day three of the Nespresso Youth International Match Racing Cup with James Wilson (RNZYS Youth Training Programme), Leonard Takahashi (RNZYS Performance Programme Pacific Racing Team), Finn Tapper (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia) and Jordan Stevenson (RNZYS YTP) – all booking their tickets to semi-final showdowns on Tuesday.

Crews were met with clear skies and 10-15 knot winds when they arrived on the water to complete the remaining round robin races, a nice reprieve from the severely wet and windy first two days of racing. The biggest winner of the round robin racing this morning was Stevenson who won his remaining three races to sneak into the top 8, as well as Costanzo and Farquharson who both won races and a spot in the finals.

Trent Turigliatto from the Long Beach Yacht Club, John Lynch from the Darwin Sailing Club, and Tom Picot from Cercle Nautique Caledonien were all very unlucky not to make it into the finals after all three teams finished the round robin with six wins – one win away from potentially clinching a spot to race in the afternoon session.

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Once round robin racing was completed our eight quarterfinalists were decided and the business end of proceedings could begin. The matchups included; Wilson (RNZYS YTP) v Farquharson (Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club), Tapper (CYCA) v Costanzo (RPAYC), Takahashi (RNZYS PP) v Dair (Kerikei Cruising Club) and Egnot-Johnson (RNZYS PP) v Stevenson (RNZYS YTP).

Wilson, who entered the quarters as the top seed, lost his first two matches against Farquharson and it looked like the pressure of the finals may have been getting to him and the team. But down match point, the RNZYS YTP team really pulled their socks up and found the form they had on the previous two days, marching on to win the final three matches and sailing into the semi-finals. “We were two nil down and I felt like we were rushing everything, steering into the tacks too fast and not taking our time with our decisions. Once we were down by two we knew we had to change something and chill out a little bit so we started slowing everything down, getting the basics right, keeping everything simple, and yeah that worked.”

Wilson then shared his thoughts on getting into the semi-finals “Really looking forward to it, we’re just happy to be there after that [quarterfinal].”

For Farquharson, this is his sixth time competing at this event – but his first on helm – and it was looking like he might make the top four before Wilson found his mojo “Before the quarterfinal we had a really good morning and claimed three wins, we were sailing really well, even when the breeze built we won the first two quarterfinal races against him [Wilson]. In that third race it was really close but we picked up a few penalties. Then it was just a case of not getting off the line clean and it got a bit tough just to get the bow ahead, so we couldn’t touch him when he got in front.” Asked how if he has enjoyed his sixth time match racing in Auckland, Farquharson was still upbeat despite not quite getting over the line today “Absolutely, I really enjoy coming down to this event.”

Takahashi, the highest ranked match racer here this week, made light work of his quarterfinal against Dair, winning three races to nil and getting an early trip home to prepare for Tuesday’s semi-final showdown. “Today was good, we had nice north easterly and the tide was out to play which made for a challenging race course. Fortunately we won our semi-final three-nil against Frankie [Dair] but full credit to his team, they sailed really well. Things are starting to come together for us at the perfect time as we get into the business end tomorrow so I’m looking forward to finishing the job off with the boys.”

It was still a good result for Dair, who had a crew who had never sailed together and even Dair himself hadn’t sailed an Elliott 7 for at least a few months.

“I’m pretty happy with how we went. Our crew don’t have much experience together and I haven’t sailed an Elliott 7 since the last regatta (The Yachting Developments New Zealand Match Racing Championships, in November).” Dair, with a bit more racing under his belt, is guaranteed to be one to watch out for in 2018 and beyond.

In what was the quarterfinal of the day, and potentially the closest we have seen here for some time, Stevenson and Egnot-Johnsons matchup went right down to the fifth and final match. Earlier in the piece with the score tied at one all, Stevenson had a blowout when the kite ended up wrapped around the stern of the boat “Yeah we didn’t tie the tack line on and when we went for a hoist the kite ended up in a bundle around the back of the boat, which wasn’t too good.”

After some more close tit-for-tat racing the scores were tied at two all, meaning we were down to a winner take all match. There was nothing in it whatsoever, as was the theme for this matchup, and with the boats sending it neck and neck, drama ensued. Egnot-Johnsons hiking straps broke sending 3 of his crew into the Waitemata Harbour and essentially handing the semi-final spot to Stevenson. “Yeah they had one as well when their hiking straps broke which evened it out a bit but it was just really close racing. Big up’s to the boys on Nick’s boat and on mine for pulling through in the end. It was the tightest racing I have ever had I’d say.

“Even going into this morning we were looking sketchy to make the quarters but we got a few wins and carried our momentum into the quarters so hopefully we can also carry that into the semis tomorrow.”

The fourth quarterfinal was an all Australian affair, with CYCA’s Finn Tapper taking on Hardy Cup winner Clare Costanzo and her all girl RPAYC crew. Costanzo started the matchup really well, claiming the first gun to take a one nil lead. However that’s when the CYCA boys tapped into the form they had showed throughout the round robin, going on to win the next three and setting themselves up for another days racing on Tuesday.

This being a youth regatta, it seems fair to give the last word today to 12 year old George Lee Rush who is sailing with Takahashi’s RNZYS PP team, and having a blast “It’s been so good so far, I’m having lots of fun and learning heaps so I’m happy I came along.”

All eyes will be on the briefing at 830am tomorrow where Wilson will pick his semi-final opponent. Semi-finals will then begin tomorrow at 10am local time, but with the forecast predicting more rain and 10-20 knot winds – we’re sure to have an epic days match racing on our hands.

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