Some of the world's most promising young match racing sailors will contest the prestigious Hardy Cup Under 25 ISAF Grade 3 International Match Racing Regatta on Sydney Harbour next week.
The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS) has received team entries from two clubs in the USA, two clubs from New Zealand and two from Japan, as well as five from Australian clubs for the series that runs through from Monday to Thursday next week.
A highlight is expected to be the clash between Australia's leading under 25 year match racing skippers, Michael DUNSTAN, 22, who will represent the RSYS, and Katie SPITHILL, 21. who will sail for the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
Both have achieved considerable international success, with Dunstan ranked 34 in the ISAF World Match Race Open Rankings, Spithill 194 in the open rankings, and 14 in women's rankings.
Dunstan won the Hardy Cup when the Squadron revived it two years ago. Spithill's wins include the Harken Trophy, a similar event conducted by her club, the RPAYC, and last year won New Zealand Women's Match Racing Nationals. Her 15-year-old brother, Tommy, will sail as mainsheet hand.
Dunstan is currently locked in a close battle with two New Zealanders in the Warren Jones Youth Regatta in Perth, one of whom, Laurie JURY, will contest the Hardy Cup next week.
Whilst the Warren Jones Youth Regatta is being sailed in 36-footers, the Hardy Cup fleet comprises the high-performance one-design Elliott 6 sportsboats, each sailed by a crew of three in which crew work is as important as that of the helmsperson in the tight match racing.
Other young skippers contesting the Hardy Cup are Brian ANGEL (King Harbour Yacht Club, USA), Dean HORTON (Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, Qld), Jackson DIGNEY (Royal Perth Yacht Club, WA), Aimee FAMULARO (Waiheke Yacht Club, NZL), David HOCHART (Mission Bay Yacht Club, USA), Richard HOWARD (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, NSW), Laurie JURY (Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, NZL), Yuki NAGAHORI (Japan Match Race Assoc, Japan), Troy TINDILL (Bucklands Beach Yacht Club, NZL) and Mark DORLING (Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, NSW).
Sir James HARDY, the former America's Cup, World Champion and Olympic yachtsman and prominent RSYS member donated the Hardy Cup to promote the match race helming and tactical skills of young sailors.
Originally conducted by the Royal Australian Navy, the event lapsed due to changes in the Navy training structure but was revived by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. Given ISAF Grade 3 status, the event has since attracted teams from Great Britain, Italy, Hawaii, New Zealand, Japan, Germany and the USA.
Mark CAMPBELL-JAMES, representing Britain's Royal Yacht Squadron, won the first new format Hardy Cup in 2001 from Michael DUNSTAN (RSYS) and Matthew CHEW (Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.
In 2002, the RSYS team, with Michael DUNSTAN at the helm, won from New Zealand's Team Minton and the British Challenge team. Originally scheduled for last December, the 2003 Hardy Cup was put back until February this year.
The Hardy Cup will race the high performance sports boats, Elliott 6s, used by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Cruising Yacht Club of Australia youth training schemes.