Organisers have announced the competing teams for this years HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championship, the 12 running and 7 consecutively with sponsors HARKEN, which will see twelve teams of three crew compete at Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club
"The HARKEN" as it is known in youth sailing circles worldwide is arguably the premier event for youth U20 on the International match racing calendar having served as a launch pad for a number of yachting stars including the Alfred's own dual winner James SPITHILL, now a veteran America's Cup helmsman at just 24 years of age.
It is not surprising that the trophy has only twice left Australian shores given the calibre of home competition. The host Club's team includes Nicky SOUTER, a 19 yr old dinghy champion who has spent the last two winters honing her match racing skills in the actual race boats in the Club's Youth Development Program under coaches David LUKINS and Des DAVIS. Nicky is joined by Nina CURTIS (15) who has contributed to a number of successes in women's events including the National title and laser sailor John DAHLENBERG (16) who evens up the scales in the muscle department. Such was the strength of competition within the Club for this representative berth that a sail-off was necessary with Nicky's team displacing clubmates Alex ANDERSON, James CATTS and Hamish ROUGHLY.
Arch rivals the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia have also mounted a formidable challenge led by Seve JARVIN who with Sam NEWTON and Robert BELL recently won the Governors Cup in the USA followed by the NSW and Australian Youth titles. Seve has just gatecrashed the World rankings at 156 on his first listing! Jarvin is tipped as favourite for the CYCA's Accord Logistics Youth International in the week preceding the Harken.
The Harken field this year also includes two teams from Germany's Hamburg Sailing Club helmed by 19yr old lass Silke HAHLBROCK who recently won a Grade 4 Youth Match Racing event in Germany and clubmate Max GURGEL. New Zealand have two teams entered helmed by Theo MCDONNELL from Royal Port Nicholson YC and Andrew PHILLIPS from the defending Club, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Though regulars on the podium, Englands Royal Yachting Association have yet to win the title and are pinning their hopes on Nick CHERRY, ranked 158 open in the World and buoyed by the recent Rugby success.
Australia is well represented though with three teams from Perth WA, the city which hosts several of our top events including the Australian open and Australia Cup. South of Perth YC's Kieth SWINTON will helm the lightest crew entered whilst Royal Perth can claim the youngest helmsman in Robert GIBBS, at just 15yrs old. Fremantle Sailing Club 's well-credentialed team helmed by the 478 ranked Torvar MIRSKY could well be the dark horse. From Royal Queensland, David CHEW will take over the helm having done a number of HARKENs as crew for older brother Matt. Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron have claimed the title on two of the last three occasions and have enlisted sailing legend David Adams to coach their team led by Stu POLLARD, who will be right in the thick of it.
On the technical side, racing will be managed by professional Race Officer Dennis THOMPSON who conducted the match racing for the Olympics whilst International and America's Cup Umpire Shane BORRELL (NZL) will lead a team of seven international and one State qualified umpires including three flown in from overseas for the event. Competitors can definitely rest assured that racing will be fair.
Further details are available on the RPAYC website at the address below.