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Sharp Australian Youth Match Racing Championship - Overall

by Ross Macdonald on 30 Sep 26-29 September 2017

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia's Tom Grimes, Dante Olivieri, Eric Sparkes, Emma Harrison and Jess Grimes have been crowned the 2017 Sharp Australian Youth Match Racing Champions after a long and frustratingly light final day at this year's event.

In the end, the Race Committee had to abandon their final attempt at completing the finals with the two finalists, CYCA's Tom Grimes and Mooloolaba Yacht Club's James Hodgson were tied 1-1 in the first to three point finals. The petit finals also had to be abandoned with again both teams locked together at 1 apiece. The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club's all female team led by Clare Costanzo were awarded the final podium spot after results had to revert back to the double round robin qualifying stage.

The morning began in a promising westerly breeze, similar to Thursday's racing with competition resuming in the semi-finals stage. Overnight, Tom Grimes and James Hodgson had a 1-0 lead in their first to two point semi-finals over Finn Tapper (CYCA) and Clare Costanzo respectfully. On Friday, Grimes picked up exactly where he left off and with Tapper being called back early from the start, Grimes and co. sailed away with their second victory to advance into the finals.

Queensland's Hodgson had a slightly harder run into his finals berth with Costanzo taking it to the higher ranked team, penalizing them in the pre-start. The early advantage though didn't stick for long with Hodgson taking a big lead around the first lap to complete his penalty on the second beat. Costanzo though, kept her composure to close and overtake on the crucial final spinnaker run to square the semi-finals and take it to a winner-takes-all final.

In the deciding race, Hodgson controlled the start and in the 6-12 knot breeze, powered away upwind for a comfortable win to progress through to the Finals.

With the westerly breeze still holding in, the Race Committee started the Finals with two very close matches featuring several lead changes throughout. Tom Grimes managed to hold off regular attacks from the Queensland team in Race 1 to take the early lead in the Finals while Costanzo also made better use of the shifting winds to take out Race 1 of the petit finals.

After a 2 hour delay as the westerly breeze shut down and a unstable northerly built, the Race Committee, led by Denis Thompson valiantly managed to complete another race with both Hodgson and Tapper levelling the scores. With the time limit for the day expiring, the Race Committee shortened the Finals to first to two points and got the final race underway 30 seconds before the deadline. However in an explosive pre-start by all teams, the westerly breeze shifted back and racing had to be abandoned for the day.

This meant both finals were locked together with results then reverting back to the qualifying stage. After finishing the qualifying stage 2 points clear, Tom Grimes and his team were crowned champions.

"The team did a great job all week and kept me in check. It was unfortunate the wind didn't want to cooperate today, but we executed at the right time, so we are happy with that. We always have a good battle with James. He's a great competitor and we love being pushed hard by him. To come away with our first National title at our second attempt in the way we did was just great," commented Grimes back at the CYCA.

At the Presentation, Sharp Australia Business Development Manager, Joe Psaila acknowledged that Sharp's involvement with the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and this event came about for one major reason; to support and invest in Australia's future leaders. All attention now turns to the CYCA's big 2017 match racing finale with the World Sailing Grade 2 Musto International Youth Match Racing Championship being held from Monday 27 November to Friday 1 December 2017.

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