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11 March 2005, 11:52 am
Australian Crews Take An Early Lead
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Harken International Women's Match Racing Championship
Sydney, Australia

The first day of this new ISAF Grade 3 Match Racing event saw the home competitors dominate the first round robin. Pre-regatta favourite Nicky SOUTER (AUS) had a tough time leaving the competition wide open.
After dark clouds and no breeze threatened to put a dampener on the first day of racing, the eight all-women teams sailed six hotly contested flights, spending a perfect afternoon on Sydney Harbour fighting out the Harken Women's International Match Racing Regatta.

The morning weather delayed the start of the first round robin but with the arrival of the wind everyone was out sailing off Double Bay as the breeze picked up to ten knots and blew the clouds away.

Today's outstanding performers were host's, Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA), representative Jacqui BONNITCHA (AUS) and the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club's (RPAYC) Katie SPITHILL (AUS), both undefeated at the close of racing. The two crews will face each other tomorrow morning in a highly anticipated meeting.

In another much-awaited showdown SPITHILL upset the pre-regatta favourite and fellow RPAYC sailor, Nicky SOUTER (AUS). The teams used terrific crew work and boat control to great effect in pre-start, luffing each other and tactically manoeuvring for a clear start. These two skippers have been fierce competitors over many years with neither giving the other any quarter.

Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron skipper Jessica SMYTH (NZL) and her team got off to a slow start. In their first match of the day SPITHILL's tactics resulted in SMYTH being awarded two penalties within 20 metres of the finishing line. In the following race SMYTH was not only penalized in pre-start manoeuvres but was also over at the start. Nevertheless after some consistent sailing, losing only to BONNITCHA in the final race of the day, her crew are currently placed equal third with fellow New Zealand skipper Amanda HARGREAVES (RPNYC).

HARGREAVES also improved from a disappointing beginning, losing her first three races before defeating Nina CURTIS (AUS) of RPAYC by less than half a boat length in a nail-biting finish.

Race Officer, Doug TALTY, called it a day, one flight short of a complete round robin, when three major yacht clubs on Sydney Harbour brought their Twilight races out and the harbour filled with yachties.

Forecast for tomorrow is for another glorious day on Sydney Harbour with a 10-15 knot north easterly.

Event Media (As Amended By ISAF). Image:© Sailsportz
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