New Zealander George Brasell was crowned Champion of the 2014 Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship, after defeating local Harry Price in a four-match thriller.
A clearly elated Brasell was “over the moon,” with a performance that sees the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron take the title for the third consecutive year.
Brasell and his crew of Connor Mashlan, Logan Andresen and fill-in crew Malcolm Parker representing Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, sailed consistently throughout the day, remaining focused during what can only be described as well fought matches. This is made more impressive, as Brasell lost his bowman, Josh WiJohn to a knee injury at the beginning of the week. The young New Zealander instead took advantage of the change, that would see the undoing of others, “Malcolm was a great asset to the team, we worked really well together from the first day and I’d have him back any day,” he said.
All week Brasell knew that if he kept his cool, he could be in the top spot come finals day – it was clear he wasn’t only elated but also, relieved. “Today was tough, we really had to keep collected – it was a real test for us,
“It was hard not to get too excited, especially as the races were so close. But after the morning, we knew that we could be in with a chance – every race could have gone either way. Harry was a tough opponent and kept throwing everything at us. He took the second race and that was when we really had to separate the emotions and focus on our sailing.
The third match of the final was a tough race, we had a penalty coming in to the finish and I really didn’t have much of a game plan. I just went with the flow and through the chaos, we seemed to wipe our penalty and get one back on Harry,”
“In the end it was a matter of getting in front and keeping calm. Once you were in the lead, it was a matter of defensive sailing and keeping it simple. The shifty conditions made it tough to do much more, but it seemed to work and I’m so happy with the boys and how we handled it.” A proud Brasell concluded.
Having been aboard the winning team last year Brasell, who is off to the Melges 32 Worlds (USA) tomorrow, isn’t a stranger to success. Sailing last year, alongside sheethand Mashlan, Brasell is proud to return the title to New Zealand. If anyone could equal the team’s happiness, it’s Chris Steele who steered the team to success last year and returned as coach of the RNZYS teams in 2014. Steele, who managed to take some time out of a hectic moth and TP2 sailing schedule, to coach the young team was proud that the title was returning home for the third consecutive year.
“I’ve sailed with the boys throughout the last few years and the hard work has finally paid off with the win here. The boys sailed awesome against a tough opponent in Harry, who sailed hard all week,”
Having now opened the event to Under 23s, it leaves the door open for Steele to make it a hat-trick next summer. The experienced match racer believes though, if he were to come back again, he’d return with a development crew to give back to a program that is clearly breeding successful match racers saying that, “coming back and putting in the time with the boys’ has been awesome. It shows that the RNZYS program is working really well.”
That’s if Steele can make it back, with a lot of potentially exciting sailing on his horizon, he could be anywhere come next summer. It’s an attempt that would be welcomed by second place, Harry Price of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia who sailed to his second Silver medal in as many weeks. Price, sailing with Caitlin Tames, Harry Morton and Angus Williams started the day in a do-or-die match against eventual third place winner, Will Dargaville.
Price said, “We sailed well, but it was shifty and patchy all over the course. We were happy with how we sailed in the morning and were hoping the momentum would continue throughout the day.”
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and as Price talks through his day out on the water, it’s easy to see that he doesn’t want to remain the bridesmaid for long. Already planning training sessions for what has proven to be a successful crew-combination after only two events together. “We are sailing well as a team, but unfortunately we weren’t as strong as George (Brasell) today,”
Price also recalled the third match of the final as one of the most exciting moments of the week, “Coming down the last run, we hoped to take advantage of our downwind speed that was hard to maintain in the shifty conditions. The boys had a penalty and we planned to sail safe and smart, but were caught out at the pin end of the line. There were flags and yelling- it was a bit hectic. I don’t think anyone knew what was going on.” It was clear that this shook the team as they ended up with a penalty themselves. Brasell was able to exonerate his penalty and continued his roll, taking the next match for the overall win.
With age on his side, Price hopes to do as much match racing as possible in-between 49er commitments over the summer. Is he was the man to stop the Kiwi-assault? “…maybe”
The petite-final saw an equally impressive display of boat handling and team work by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania teams. Will Dargaville, having lost the semi-final to Price this morning, with his team of Evelyn Foster, Sarah Parker, Harry Hall and James Farquharson managed to win both pre-starts and extend their lead over the course. Dargaville believes he learnt a lot of valuable lessons throughout the week, particularly in the tough matches against Price this morning, “we knew we would have to minimise separation and not let our opponent split like we did with Harry. I think our lack of experience left us a bit on the back foot.”
“Sailing against Dylan was tough and we were a little bit rusty after the break. We had unfinished business and we knew we could come away with the win (in the petite-final), we just had to trust ourselves and sail the way we had been all week. After some really close racing with George and Harry, we started to grow some confidence.” Dargaville said.
Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club Coach, Tom Spithill, commented on what was a day of mixed emotions. It wasn’t the fairy-tale ending that could have unravelled for the more inexperienced team, but it’s an effort that can only be built on in the future, commenting “I’m very proud of the team, they’re easy to coach, it’s a strong combination without big egos and we’ll be working hard to improve for our upcoming events.”
With more events on the horizon and a lot of lessons learnt, the Tasmanian team of Dylan Gore, Jonny Cooper, Aleksandrs Price, Robert Hunt and Tommy Cooper will look towards as much competition exposure as possible over the summer. Going down to eventual regatta winner, Brasell, in a sudden death match this morning, Gore struggled to regain his early regatta form. Luckily, for the crew, their teams racing roots are quickly being rivalled by their match racing skill, which is growing with each event they attend. After going undefeated on the first day, the team sent the message that Tasmanian Match Racing was here to stay, and their fourth place after a consistent week shows they are a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson got racing underway on time in a shifty breeze that eventually settled in to a seabreeze around 1300 hours. The breeze was surprisingly shifty for most of the day, Thompson and the mark-lay team on their toes. “All of the teams sailed well to keep their boats moving in the patchy conditions. The seabreeze came in at 045 and made for perfect sailing when it settled.” Thompson said.
“The racing really was superb throughout the week. We saw a lot of even matches with close finishes. Today, the match between Harry and the Kiwis was fantastic to watch. The penalties meant any team could have won and it’s fantastic that the teams are lifting to such a high standard,” he added.
Cruising Yacht Club of Australia Commodore John Cameron congratulated all competitors on their performance throughout the regatta. “Congratulations to George Brasell and his team from Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on their win. The standard of competition was high with great camaraderie shown with fellow competitors.”
Anthony Dunn, Chairman of the CYCA’s Training and Development Committee, echoed Cameron’s praise of the high level of competition seen throughout the week. Dunn also took the opportunity to thank Musto who continue to be strong supporters of Youth Match Racing. “We are proud to announce that Musto has extended their event sponsorship until 2017. Their support allows our young sailors to be exposed to the invaluable experience of high level competition and to know that will continue in the future is exciting.”