The two teams eventually got away, putting on a superb tacking display during both beats to the top mark but it was SOUTER who managed to lee bow SMYTH at the final top mark rounding and lead her opponent to the finish.
SOUTER finished four at the Nations Cup in Ireland last year, her only foray into the European match racing circuit in 2006 as she was crewing on Bob OATLEY's Reichel/Pugh 98 Wild Oats X and teaching sailing in San Diego, and has been named Australian National Women's Match Racing Champion four years running. For the Harken International she has been joined by her regular bowperson, Rayshele MARTIN, with Queenslander Anna PATTERSON and past crew member Lily TAYLOR rounding off this dominant team.
SMYTH won this year's Women's Match Racing Nationals in New Zealand and won the ISAF Grade 2 Nations Cup Regional Qualifier last year. She has been a match racing skipper for three years and her current team has been sailing together for 12 months including spending four months together in Europe contesting events in Finland, Portugal, Italy, France, Sweden and Ireland. Their best result was fifth in France at the St Quay Women's Match Racing Regatta. Like SOUTER, SMYTH's bowperson, Ann DE FLUITER, has been sailing with her for a number of years.
Racing on day one of the Harken International Women's was postponed by almost three hours while the ten teams and the race committee scanned the horizon for breeze.
Eventually a light nor'easter filled in and racing got underway. The first round robin was in full swing when organisers received word that a severe storm had struck the Southern Highlands around 3pm and was moving quickly towards the coast. While keeping a weather eye on the black storm clouds brewing to the south of Sydney Harbour, four flights and three of the five matches in the fifth flight were completed before the race committee abandoned racing for the day.
'The sky was looking very ominous and we had word there was hail in the storm which had struck down south. Eventually a weak southerly hit as we arrived back at the CYCA….luckily the worst had headed offshore,' said regatta organiser Jenni BONNITCHA this afternoon.
Results at the end of day one are uneven with teams completing a different number of races due to the abandonment of part of the last flight.
Racing continues tomorrow and Saturday and will conclude Sunday 11 March.
Pos Skipper (Nation) Wins-Losses
1. Nicky SOUTER (AUS) 4-0
2. Jess SMYTH (NZL) 4-1
3. Amanda HARGREAVES (NZL) 3-0
4. Meghan ANDREW (AUS) 3-1
5. Nina CURTIS (AUS) 3-2
6. Samantha OSBORNE (NZL) 2-2
7. Jan DAWSON (NZL) 2-3
8. Amanda SCRIVENOR (AUS) 1-3
9. Alex WARD (AUS) 1-4
10. Lucinda WHITTY (AUS) 0-5
Helm Crew Crew Crew Nation - ISAF World Ranking
Nicky SOUTER, Anna PATTERSON, Lily TAYLOR, Rayshele MARTIN (AUS) - 14
Jess SMYTH, Aimee FAMULARO, Sandy DUBEY, Anna DE FLUITER (NZL) - 17
Meghan ANDREW, Catherine TREW, Katie WEBB (AUS) - 53
Lucinda WHITTY, Tiff FULDE, Kathleen STROINOVSKY, Sarah BILSEL (AUS) - 56
Jan DAWSON, Sonya SWINBURNE, Bex HIELKEMA, Laura HEMINGWAY (NZL) - 63
Amanda HARGREAVES, Kim DEN BOON, Leah MONCHEUR, Ashleigh WILLIAMS (NZL) - 98
Nina CURTIS, Kylie MCKILLOP, Sarah WILMOTT, Kristen SHORT AUS)
Samantha OSBORNE, Hannah MORRIS, Amy MULCAHY, Taylor HOLLANDNZL)
Amanda SCRIVENOR, Breanna HOPPE, Josephine ROPER, Rebecca DUNN (AUS)
Alex WARD, Olivia PRICE, Emma CAMPBELL, Emma SUNDERLAND (AUS)