Click here for our photo gallery from Perth.
The Under 21 competition was introduced at the 2007 ISAF Team Racing Worlds in Gandia, Spain to encourage more young sailors from around the world to compete in the discipline. After its successful introduction, the 2009 Team Worlds again includes an Under 21 championship with four teams, AUS 1, NZL 2, NZL 3 and GBR 3, competing for the title.
Following the completion of round robin two in the open event, the knockout stages of the Under 21 competition took centre stage in Perth on Wednesday afternoon. After two days of winds in the mid-teens, the Fremantle Doctor really got going today with up to 30 knots across the racing area providing a challenging afternoon for the young crews and for the umpire team, headed up by Chief Umpire Alfredo RICCI (ITA).
As the top Under 21 team after the two round robins, AUS 1 automatically qualified for the final, with NZL 3 and GBR 3 facing off in the semis. The Brits had won the Under 21 title in Spain two years ago, but the impressive Kiwi team of Blair TUKE, Lexie LANGLEY, Ash HAMMOND, Clark HEPWORTH, Stephanie HAZARD and Dylan WICHMAN ensured their would be no repeat of that success this time around, sweeping to a 2-0 victory to earn their place in the final.
The final was a closely fought affair, but AUS 1 prevailed with a 3-0 scoreline over their Kiwi rivals. The young Australian team, who are coached by Australian match racing legend Peter GILMOUR, will be presented with the Ciudad de Gandia Trophy at the prizegiving this evening.
In the senior competition, the big news of the day was the reigning World Championships, team USA 1 from the New York Yacht Club, suffered their first defeat of the regatta. Clay BISCHOFF, Lisa KEITH, Colin MERRICK, Amanda CALLAHAN, Pete LEVESQUE and Liz HALL had held a perfect record up until their match against AUS 2 and despite that setback still remain well clear at the top of the standings with a 96% winning record (25 wins to 1 defeat).
The win against the Americans was the highlight of an excellent day for the home AUS 2 team from the Royal Perth Yacht Club, composed of Luc TASKER, Brett SHARPE, Blair SPAULDING, Kirsty PACKER, Steven THOMAS and Greta CARROLL. After struggling at the start of round robin two yesterday, they were back to top form today and go into the lay day second overall with a 69% winning record.
Third are the Kiwi team of NZL 1 a.k.a. Black Sheep Racing. Reuben CORBETT, Jesse TUKE, Bradley FARRAND, Natasha SHELDON, Peter BURLING and Nick GUNN have a 65% winning record. In fourth and currently occupying the last of the qualification places for the semi-final stage is team USA 2 of John STORCK IIIII, Kaitlin STORCK, Erik STORCK, Lyndsey GIBBONS-NEFF, Charlie ENRIGHT and Meris TOMBARI. Like the Kiwis they currently have a 65% winning record. With AUS 1, GBR 1 and GBR 2 all narrowly off the top four, just two wins behind NZL 1 and USA 2, there is plenty of competition to come before the semi-final line up is decided.
Tomorrow is the championship lay day and the event will move to the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club for the resumption of racing on Friday. Round robin three will start there on Friday at 09:00 local time with two full days of racing scheduled before the semi-finals and finals on Sunday.
Full Results - click here
2009 ISAF Team Racing World Championship website
Full details on the 2009 Worlds, past results and more can be found at the ISAF Team Racing World Championship microsite www.sailing.org/teamworlds.