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15 March 2010, 10:51 am
Whitty Wins Harken Women's Match Race
Lucinda Whitty takes on Sam Osbourne in the final of the Harken International
Lucinda Whitty takes on Sam Osbourne in the final of the Harken International

Harken Women's International Match Racing Regatta 2010
Sydney, Australia

Lucinda Whitty, representing Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, and her crew of Stacey Jackson and Nina Curtis, have won the ISAF Grade 3 Harken Women's International Match Racing Regatta in convincing style with three straight wins in the grand final.
Starting the day with her semi-final against Jessica Eastwell (AUS), Lucinda Whitty (AUS) knew that she had to bring her 'A' game to the race track. A penalty during pre-start showed early nerves, and with both skippers being OCS, Whitty was able to wipe off her penalty as Eastwell took longer to return to the start line. From there, Whitty went on to win the match.

Whitty took the next match of the semi-final convincingly by 45 seconds to set up a Grand Final match up with Samantha Osborne (NZL) from Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Osborne secured a second win in her semi-final match over Olivia Price (AUS) of the CYCA and Australian Women's Match Racing team.

Three closely fought matches against Osborne later, Whitty was declared the winner of the Harken Women's International Match Racing Regatta. It was the last match of the day that had everyone talking. Whitty and Osborne displayed some of the best match racing skills and tactics; using obstructions on the course and 'dummy tacks' to try to outwit each other. Whitty was to win by only seven seconds after a tight spinnaker run to the finish line.

"I was really determined to come back strongly after yesterday's performance," said Whitty. "It was a sudden death match this morning, but we were totally focused and knew what we had to do to take the regatta title"

"We've used this regatta as a stepping stone to the team's European tour and I am really happy with our performance. My thanks to Harken for their continuing sponsorship of the regatta and to all the race officials, umpires and the host club," Whitty concluded.

In the petit final, Price dominated the two matches against Eastwell. Price got the early lead in first match and headed wide to the lay line with both skippers tacking up the course.

Price got a good downwind run to the bottom mark with Eastwell receiving a penalty at the top of the course, which allowed Price to get away. Eastwell carried the penalty until the finish line, but spinnaker issues on the finish line delayed the turn.

In the second match, Eastwell received a penalty in the pre-start and used the puffs of breezes coming from the left hand side of the course in an attempt to gain enough off a lead to wipe off her penalty. The penalty would remain until the second leg of the match at the top mark, but Price got the better spinnaker run to the finish line and won by 16 seconds and secured third place.

"It was a very hard fought third place against fellow Australian Women's Match Racing Team members. I've found it really interesting to be on the helm this regatta - It's a totally different mindset to mainsheet or bow. Congratulations to Lucinda and her team," Price concluded.

Carl Watson, Managing Director, Harken Australia, watched the finals action with great excitement. "That was one of the best match races I have seen in a long while" he said when referring to the Whitty versus Osborne final match. "It was a great display of tactics, picking the shifts in the breeze and maximizing the opportunities as they presented themselves."

"Congratulations to Lucinda and her crew, and to all the women participating in this regatta. I look forward to welcoming all the competitors back again next year," Watson concluded.

Racing was conducted again in Rushcutters Bay with a 12-14 knots southeasterly.

Last year's winner and the current ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion, Nicky Souter (AUS) and fellow Australian Sailing and Development Squad member Katie Pellew were both due to compete in Sydney this week. However the pair stayed on in Auckland, where they had just competed in the New Zealand Match Racing Championship, after a unique invitation was extended to take up crew positions in the Louis Vuitton Trophy.
Jennifer Crooks
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