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22 November 2001, 08:26 pm
Thrilling Racing
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Great Britain

Harken International Youth Match Racing Championship

After the first day of racing, Great Britain's Royal Yachting Association (RYA) is leading the Group A pointscore in the Harken International Youth Match Racing Series on Pittwater.
The RYA team is helmed by Paul Campbell-James, current Great Britain National Youth Match Racing Champion. Currently in second place is the Royal Prince Alfred's Red (RPAYC) team, helmed by Katie Spithill, who recently came fourth in the World Women Matchracing Championships in Italy. Katie won the International Youth Match Racing Series in 1999.

The four-day series, hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, is one of two premier sailing events for youth aged 15-19 in the world. The twelve teams include one each from Japan, USA, and Great Britain, two from New Zealand and seven from Queensland and NSW sailing clubs. Teams race a series of Round Robins in two groups.

The races were delayed when a technical breakdown on one of the Elliot 5.9 keelboats jibs meant jibs on all boats had to be replaced to ensure the fleet remained absolutely equal.

This meant that Group B did not finish the day's racing. Teams from the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron are currently equal first.

The final race between the RYA and RPAYC saw some thrilling tactics as Katie Spithill attempted to make up ground on her rival. With both teams undefeated prior to the race at that stage, RYA took the lead by about 80 metres, after the RPAYC incurred a penalty in the pre-start.

At the top mark, RPAYC was still well behind. Katie's experience showed. With split second timing she maneuvered her boat to catch the RYA on a port and starboard call. The move resulted in two penalties against the RYA - a port and starboard infringement and one for failing to keep clear. Under the rules of matchracing, when both boats have a penalty, they cancel each other out.

However, despite RYA having one remaining penalty, the crew maintained the lead. They had enough time to carry out the penalty turn and still cross the finish line just in front

Mr. Denis Thompson said. "After Sydney's awful weather, we were fortunate to have light SSE winds around 12knots and glimpses of sunshine for our overseas guests.

"It was good fast tactical racing and the teams showed maturity beyond their years. The rest of the series is looking promising for these young sailors and for the spectators."

Racing resumes today.

Georgie Brown/News Editor
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