Michael DUNSTAN and his team travel to Royal Perth Yacht Club this weekend to defend the Australian Match Racing Championship, which begin on Monday and conclude on Wednesday.
Eight teams of five will race on WA Yachting Foundation owned identical 36ft yachts for the title.
Twenty-one year old Dunstan's team - Murray WALTERS (tactician), Andrew CUTLER (main), Andrew HUTCHINSON (trim) and Jeremy CHASE (bow) - is the same team that won the championships last year by beating Perth's Simon SUTHERLAND 3-1 in the final.
Sutherland will be competing again this year, as will Perth yachting legend Gordon Lucas, who finished third in last year's regatta. Other teams competing will be Sydney sailors Pat LANGLEY and Des DAVIS, Perth youth sailor Jackson DIGNEY and New Zealanders Laurie JURY and Simon MINOPRIO.
Dunstan, who has recently completed an Engineering degree at the University of Sydney, and his team, are ranked 25th on the ISAF World Match Race Rankings. They hope to draw on experiences gained competing in events in Europe during this year, but they know it will not be and easy task to defend their title.
"We know that all of the other teams would have been preparing equally as hard as we have,"
said Dunstan, "but we look forward to the racing, which will be close if last year is anything to go by."
Pittwater sailor Murray WALTERS, who has done a lot of sailing with Dunstan, was coaching at Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron when Dunstan began match racing at the age of 16 and will fill the important roll of tactician.
"The Foundation 36s are very powerful and physically demanding yachts, especially when the Fremantle Doctor blows 20 knots, which it generally does each afternoon,'"
said Walters, adding, "with only five crew on the boat there is such an emphasis on crew work. It is hard racing but great fun!"
Official practice for the regatta is on Monday morning, with the first of two round robins scheduled for Monday afternoon. The best-of-three semi-finals, and the best-of-five final will be raced on Wednesday. Spectators watching from the banks of the Swan River can view all of the racing.