Michael Dunstan, the 20-year-old sailor who will represent the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in the Hardy Cup starting on Sydney Harbour tomorrow, goes into the international match racing series as the new Australian match racing champion.
The four-day series, an ISAF Grade 3 match racing event for sailors under 25 years of age, has attracted crews from six overseas nations as well as from Australian clubs.
Dunstan outsailed many older sailors in the Australian match racing champion conducted last week by the Royal Perth Yacht Club, showing great maturity as a helmsman and tactician to beat local WA champion Simon Sutherland 3-1 in the final.
Sutherland was the leading skipper in the round-robins and beat another Sydney sailor, Sean Kirkjian, in his semi-final while Dunstan outsailed local Gordon Lucus.
In a closely fought final, Dunstan showed superior tactics to beat the local on his home waters of the Swan River, with the series sailed in Foundation 36s.
After sailing some 20 match races in Perth, Dunstan as a final preparation for the Hardy Cup, has spent the weekend as a helmsman aboard Syd Fischer's ocean racing 50-footer Ragamuffin competing in the JPMorgan Regatta offshore and on the Harbour.
He will sail his first Sydney Hobart Yacht Race aboard Ragamuffin later this month as a principal helmsman, the latest young sailor given the opportunity by RSYS member Fischer to start ocean racing and, in previous years, to sail in the America's Cup.
At the same time, his father, RSYS immediate Past Commodore Jim Dunstan, will be sailing his 25th Hobart, skippering his 30-footer, Zeus II.
The Hardy Cup will be sailed in the Squadron's new fleet of Elliott 6 sports boats which have already proven ideal for match racing.
While he has outstanding credentials, Dunstan faces strong competition from champion young match racing sailors from around the world and from other Australian crews, not to mention Mark Dorling, heading the RSYS's second crew.
Among his other opponents will the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club's Katie Spithill, sister of the helmsman of the US challenger, One World, in the America's Cup elimination series in Auckland.
The 12 skippers competing for the Hardy Cup are:
Luca ANTONINI, Circolo della Vela Erix, Lerici (ITA)
Steve BROWN, University of Hawaii (USA)
Mark DORLING, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (AUS)
Michael DUNSTAN, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (AUS)
Aimee FAMULARO, Waiheke Boating Club (NZL)
Sven-Erik HORSCH, Norddeutscher Regatta Verein (GER)
Simon MINOPRIO, Team Mintin, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (NZL)
Yuki NAGAHORI, Team Bambino, Japan Yacht Match Race Competitor's Conference (JPN)
Simon SHAW, GBR Challenge (GBR)
Katie SPITHILL, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club (AUS)
Scott WALTON, Sandringham Yacht Club (AUS)
John WINNING, Cruising Yacht Club of Austalia (AUS)