Will Tiller, Harry Thurston and Shaun Mason from Auckland's Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron have won the Hardy Cup, an under 25 match racing regatta, on Sydney Harbour, Australia.
Over the four day regatta, William Tiller
and his crew, who sail for Full Metal Jacket Racing, lost only three match races in two round-robins and the semi-final.
The trio started the final day with a 2-1 semi-final win against the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron's Jordan Reece
(AUS) and then went on to defeat defending champion Evan Walker in three straight matches in the final.
"We sailed a lot better as the regatta progressed and everything fell into place for us,"
Tiller said after the final. "It was our first win in six months, so we are delighted with the result and hopefully we can maintain that form."
Graduates of the RNZYS youth training scheme, they have been match racing together and against each other for the past three years. Tiller has twice won the Governor's Cup in California, while Thurston sailed with another New Zealander, Adrian Short, when he won the Hardy Cup in 2009.
While Tiller and Harry Thurston
are Kiwis born and bred, Shaun Mason
began his sailing in Mirror dinghies at Portsmouth, England, before his family moved to New Zealand.
Now fulltime sailors, the trio are heading for another match racing regatta in Wellington and in March will spend a month in California, contesting the Ficker Cup and then, hopefully, the prestigious Congressional Cup. All this leads towards the international circuit of match racing at a senior level.
Tiller faced Reece in the semi-final and the New Zealand crew led Reece throughout the first match to win by a comfortable 17 seconds. However the second race, which involved tacking duels and luffing encounters, saw Tiller penalised over the inside overlap rule. Reece broke through to win by eight seconds but could not sustain the pressure and lost the third race by ten seconds.
In the second semi-final two past Hardy Cup winners in Evan Walker
(AUS) and Adrian Short
(NZL) went head-to-head. But it was Walker who went on to reach the final winning 2-0.
The Australia versus New Zealand final proved somewhat of an anti-climax, with Tiller beating Walker 3-0, winning by 22 seconds in the first match, 20 seconds in the second and by a close six seconds in the third and deciding match.
Tiller used superior boat speed to completely outsail Walker in the first match of the final, and in the second the New Zealand crew's rig setting proved superior in the fresher breeze. Nor did a penalty on the first windward leg help the Australians.
Walker tried his best tactical manoeuvres in the third match but was still outsailed by Tiller, going down 3-0.
In the petit final to decide third and fourth place overall, Short added to New Zealand's good day by defeating Reece 2-0.