With the 33 degrees northerly wind kicking in at 20-24 knots yesterday afternoon, the final between the two Australians was as much a matter of boat handling skills as it was tactical match racing, with the two crews sailing the Elliot 6 sports boats under full rigs, including spinnakers.
Both DUNSTAN, for whom Ben LAMB and Andrew HUTCHINSON crewed, and DORLING, who sailed with crew Hugh TAIT and Nathan OUTERRIDGE, are outstanding graduates of the host club's youth development programme and both have achieved international success in match racing and fleet racing.
While DUNSTAN is no longer eligible for the Hardy Cup, he finishes with an outstanding record of 2,1,2,1,1 since the RSYS took over conducting the Hardy Cup, a trophy donated by the eminent Australian yachtsman Sir James HARDY to promote match race helming and tactics skills among young sailors.
Sir James' foresight has certainly paid off, with the Hardy Cup enjoying international status and clearly lifting the standards of match racing among young sailors from Australia, New Zealand as well as from Europe and North America.
In the semi finals, DORLING scored two straight wins against New Zealander Graeme SUTHERLAND from the Royal Akarana Yacht Club, while DUNSTAN had a tougher semi win, scoring a 2-1 against Seve JARVIN (AUS) from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.
DUNSTAN won the first flight against JARVIN but lost the second after the umpires found against him in a port and starboard incident as he and JARVIN crossed the finish line. However, in the third and deciding flight, DUNSTAN's experience gave him the upper hand as the breeze freshened.
With the wind strengthening to 20 knots, the final was always going to be a thriller - and it exceeded expectations!
DUNSTAN won the first two flights quite comfortably, with some good match racing tactics at the start of each race and then excellent boat handling in the fresh winds and choppy waters of the harbour - which saw both skippers call for a break to bale out their boats.
Then DORLING came back with two fine wins to level at 2-2, with race four full of drama.
Firstly DORLING's middleman, TAIT, fell overboard on the second beat to windward, but managed to grab a sheet and haul himself back onto the Elliot 6.
With the northeaster gusting to 24 knots, the final and deciding flight was more about boat handling and fast sailing than match racing, with DUNSTAN having a vital edge to win and take the Hardy Cup for the third time.
It was a meritorious win loudly applauded by spectators who included Sir James HARDY, DUNSTAN's father Jim, a former Commodore of the RSYS, and Farr 40 One Design World Champion Richard PERINI (AUS), with whom Michael DUNSTAN regularly crews.
'We were high in confidence after our first two wins, but a couple of penalties brought as back to earth in the next two races,' DUNSTAN said back at the RSYS. 'However, we were a little faster upward in the final race and that made the difference.'
DUNSTAN's sailing plans for the rest of 2006 include sailing with PERINI in the Farr 40 European circuit and defending the World Championship at Newport, Rhode Island, USA, in September, as well as continuing his international campaign with Simon REIFFOLD in the Star.
Chief umpire Shane BORRELL from New Zealand headed an excellent panel who faced difficult on the water decision throughout the regatta, which was supported generously by many members of the host club, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.
Hardy Cup Final Standings
1. Michael DUNSTAN (AUS)
2. Mark DORLING (AUS)
3. Seve JARVIN (AUS)
4. Graeme SUTHERLAND (NZL)
5. Simon MINOPRIO (NZL)
6. Alexis LITTOZ-BARITEL (FRA)
7. Torvar MIRSKY (AUS)
8. Laurie JURY (NZL)
9. Max GURGEL (GER)
10. Keith SWINTON (AUS)
11. Hayden SWANSON (NZL)
12. Katie SPITHILL (AUS)