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17 March 2008, 04:25 pm
SOUTER And LEROY Ahead At Harken Match Race
Nicky SOUTER and her Team Wild Oats Chardonnay
Nicky SOUTER and her Team Wild Oats Chardonnay, undefeated on day two of the Harken Women's International Match Racing Regatta

Harken Women's International Match Racing Championship 2008
Sydney, Australia

The Australians continued to shine on home soil during day two at the ISAF Grade 2 Harken Women's International Match Racing Regatta.
Following on from Katie SPITHILL's (AUS) unbeaten run on Sunday, today it was Nicky SOUTER (AUS) and her Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club crew who were on fine form. Consequently SOUTER edges closer to winning her battle with Samantha BOYD (AUS) to qualify for the final place at next month's ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship, which will take place in Auckland, New Zealand from 1-6 April.

France's world #1 Claire LEROY has also settled into the Elliott 6 boats and new surroundings with both she and SOUTER undefeated on day two. A redress race between the pair has been earmarked for the end of round robin two and the result of that grudge match will propel one of them into the regatta lead.

During a hard hitting match in flight six this afternoon against LEROY, an unexpected gybe on SOUTER's boat caught trimmer Kylie MCKILLOP out, the boom hitting her in the head as it flicked across. This afternoon MCKILLOP was taken to St Vincent's Hospital for observation.

Due to a Race Committee error at the start of that same match, which was unrelated to MCKILLOP's misfortune, it will be re-sailed tomorrow.

Chardonnay racing conditions in terms of blue sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures again blessed the ten-boat fleet as SOUTER skippered Team Wild Oats Chardonnay to victory in six flights today, scoring a crucial win over club mate SPITHILL and world #2, Lotte MELDGAARD PEDERSEN from Denmark.

During a break after the completion of round robin one and prior to her accident, MCKILLOP said, "We have always sailed better in more breeze, especially against the Europeans".

Two-time Volvo Youth Sailing ISAF World Championship representative Rayshele MARTIN (AUS), who sails bow for SOUTER, described today's conditions as shifty with the sprightly 10-15 knot NNE breeze a touch inconsistent.

"It's been building all day but it's shifty. It's a matter of looking up the course and staying on top of the shifts. There are patches where there's little wind, which makes it tricky. The breeze is lifting and knocking," she said.

LEROY was delighted with her team's results today. "Our manoeuvres were good. It was really shifty which meant we could take the advantage with our tactics," she commented late this afternoon.

The match of the day according to the Race Committee was between SPITHILL, who was the early mover on the first day of competition, and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Jessica SMYTH (NZL), who "is coming up to pace" acknowledged the CYCA's Jenni BONNITCHA from on-water.

"On the final downwind run in flight four, SMYTH was ahead but wide of the rhumb line. When the two gybed to reach towards the mark, SPITHILL rolled over SMYTH and as they both squared up to finish it became anybody's race. SPITHILL got slightly better pressure to cross a hair's breadth in front," said BONNITCHA.

One second separated the two teams on the scoresheet.

German skipper Silke HAHLBROCK and well-known 470 sailor Frederike ZIEGELMEYER on bow have become accustomed to what is essentially an unfamiliar class of boat. HAHLBROCK's world #7 ranking stands them in good stead but their arsenal for this regatta also includes a couple of locals recruited from the host club. CYCA Youth Sailing Academy sailors Lucinda WHITTY and Kat STROINOVSKY have spent countless hours aboard the Elliott 6s and they are proving valuable additions to the German push for victory in this lead up event to the Worlds.

Racing finished at 16:45 with three flights of round robin two still to be sailed. It is hoped racing can finish early tomorrow so the overseas contingent can spend the afternoon soaking up some of the Sydney's famous sights prior to D-day on Wednesday when the knockout semi finals and finals will produce the overall winner.

Results - click here
Lisa Ratcliff
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