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12 March 2007, 10:09 am
SOUTER Takes Back To Back Wins
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Harken International Women's Match Racing Regatta 2007
Sydney, Australia

A relieved and very excited Nicky SOUTER (AUS) took back to back wins in the ISAF Grade 2 Harken Women's International and has delivered the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club its third consecutive win with a 3-1 result in Sunday afternoon's final on Sydney Harbour.
With rarely more than one boat length between the defending champion SOUTER and her worthy opponent, Jessica SMYTH (NZL) from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, who was unrelenting heading into Sunday's semis finals, the finals were spectacularly close.

'I never gave up,' said SOUTER referring to her rollercoaster ride over the past four days. After leading the ISAF Grade 2 regatta on day one, SOUTER slipped back to third on day two before clawing her way back up to second at the end of day three.

Semi-Final Action

SOUTER beat RPAYC club mate Nina CURTIS (AUS) 2-0 in the semi-finals while SMYTH knocked CYCA's Meghan ANDREW (AUS) out of the second semi with the same result, thereby setting up the final showdown between the two top ranked skippers.

SOUTER took race 1 after holding SMYTH out against the start boat which forced her to tack where she did not have room, resulting in a penalty against SMYTH.

In race 2, SMYTH won the start and never looked back which gave the finalists one race apiece.

The start of race 3 was even but SOUTER gained an edge and hung on to take the win and set herself up for the decider which she won by two boat lengths thereby sealing her second win in as many years.

SMYTH Gracious In Defeat

'We are really proud of how we sailed and of how far we've come in the last 12 months,' said SMYTH at the trophy presentation hosted by CYCA Rear Commodore Garry LINACRE.

'Nicky deserved to win…the racing was really close but at the end of the day, she out-sailed us,' SMYTH added.

The start of racing was delayed again on Sunday while the ten teams waited for the northeaster to fill in, which it eventually did just before 13:00, building to a pleasant 10-12 knot sea breeze before dropping back to 8-10 knots by late afternoon.

Now in its third year, the RPAYC in Pittwater on Sydney's northern beaches has a clean sweep of the Harken International Women's Match Racing Regatta trophies with Katie SPITHILL (AUS) winning the inaugural regatta and SOUTER, sponsored by Musto, following up with back to back wins.

Jason GREENAWAY, sales manager for regatta sponsor Harken, was on the water watching today's semi finals and finals action and he was delighted with the standard of competition.

'Particularly in the finals but right across the regatta the standard has been exceptional.

'With the profile of the event growing, it's very exciting for Harken to be involved and pending the event's acceptance as a grade one event next year, it's great that we are at the grass roots level of a potentially world event,' said GREENAWAY.

Other Places Decided

Places 5-10 were also decided on Sunday, with the most thrilling race of the day the sail off for fifth and sixth place between Samantha OSBORNE (NZL) and the CYCA's Amanda SCRIVENOR (AUS).

'All sail offs went to the maximum three races showing how little there was between the teams,' said regatta organiser Jenni BONNITCHA.

All but one of SOUTER's 'relieved, excited and exhausted' crew planned to celebrate their win last night. Lilly TAYLOR was able to postpone her year 12 mid-year exam until Monday to fit in with her sailing commitments but last night had to return to her books - teacher's orders.

The next regatta on the women's match racing circuit is the ISAF Grade 3 New Zealand Women's Match Racing Championship from 19-22 April when SOUTER and her crew will head to Auckland where they will again come up against Jess SMYTH, this time on her home turf.

Lisa Ratcliff (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Rarely more than a boat length separated Nicky SOUTER and Jess SMYTH in the final:© Luca Villata
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