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Price and team crowned Sharp Australian Youth Match Racing Champions
Price and his team, comfortably handle the Musto sponsored Elliott 7 downwind CYCA Hamish Hardy

Sharp Australian Youth Match Racing Champions

CYCA’s Harry Price, Ben Robinson, John Cooley, Harry Morton and Hugo Stoner have won the 2016 Sharp Australian Youth Match Racing Championship, defeating long-time rival Will Dargaville from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, three – one in the finals.

This marked back-to-back national titles for Price who won the event in Mooloolaba last year.

Over the course of the regatta, nine teams from Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales battled a predictable Sydney sea breeze on the opening two days, followed by a strong and shifty southerly change for the last two days. The event was marked with some fast, yet sometimes out of control downwind runs, with the Elliott 7m asymmetrical spinnakers proving to be a hot ride for the youth Under 23 competitors.

Showing their professionalism and expertise, the CYCA Race Committee team, led by Denis Thompson, completed a staggering 123 races across the Championship, creating a new record for the club. The wind averaged 20 knots over the Championship, with gusts of 35 knots recorded on Sydney Harbour on Sunday, when the fleet were held ashore for the majority of the day.

At 1315hrs, a call from Race Management to ‘give it a crack and see what we might break’ was decided. In the end, the young sailors proved their skills by handling the Elliott 7s effortlessly in the breeze, which shifted through 40 degrees and ranged from 14-28 knots in the finals.

With the morning lost to high winds, the remaining races of the semi-finals were scrapped and the call to jump straight to the finals was made, seeing Harry Price and Will Dargaville advance after finishing top two in the qualifying stage. Tom Grimes and James Hodgson were paired against each other in the petit-final.

The battle for third place needed all three races to decide a winner, even though winning margins were some of the highest seen this regatta. The lone non-New South Wales team to qualify for the semi-finals, James Hodgson from Mooloolaba Yacht Club nailed the first race with a comfortable 90 seconds lead to the finish.

Price and team crowned Sharp Australian Youth Match Racing Champions

Sharp’s Ed Gaete presents the Australian Youth Match Racing Championship cup to the champions © CYCA Hamish Hardy

Race two saw an even bigger delta between the boats, when Grimes handed Hodgson a double penalty in a ruthless pre-start and squared the petit-final with over a three minute lead. Not rattled by this loss, the Queenslander bounced back to defeat Grimes in race three and sailed away to the bronze medal position.

In the finals, Harry Price and his team could be described as ‘simply better’. Throughout the finals series, Price had the better starts and controlled his opponent for the majority of the race course, although after leading for three quarters of race one, they stumbled at the end and Dargaville took the race win.

Races two and three saw Price again get the better starts, and from there his team managed the shifty and puffy southerly incredibly well, bouncing the RPAYC team to the wrong side of the track to take out both races and take the lead in the series. Race four saw Price sink the biggest blow to his competitor, when he handed out a double penalty effectively allowing him to sail the race his way in order to take the title.

“The boys did a great job all week and kept me in check. We executed our starts well and it made a big difference in the final to have that controlling positon early on. We always have a good battle with Will, he’s a great competitor and we love being pushed hard by him. To come away with our second National title the way we did was just great,” commented Price back at the CYCA.

At the Presentation, Sharp’s Sydney and Canberra B2B Branch Manager, Ed Gaete, acknowledged that Sharps involvement with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, and this event, came about for one major reason; the expertise and experience of the competitors, race management, branding and event planning, aligns with their company line, ‘Simply the best’.

All attention now turns to the CYCA’s 2016 Match Racing finale, the World Sailing Grade 2 Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship, held from 21-25 November 2016.

by Olivia Price

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