07 Oct 2018
History was made when the Australian Schools Match Racing Championship was held by the CYCA on Sydney Harbour. With an inconsistent storming southerly breeze ranging from 8-28 knots, racing was past paced for the eight schools competing. After its inaugural event only two years ago in Tasmania, and last year being held in Queensland, it was New South Wales turn to host the Championship event. Eight teams from eight schools across Australia descended on Rushcutters Bay for the two-day event.
Day 1 saw the completion of the round robin stage with teams racing with spinnakers until midday. The Friends School, Scots College and Hutchins Schools all took early leads and looked certain for the semi-finals. The final semi-final berth though was still up for grabs with defending champions from Flinders Schools in Queensland, managing to scrape through over The Essington School’s Jed Cruickshank. At the end of the round robin stage, both Friends & Scots College were tied, with Will Sargent from Friends, coming out on top due to their win over Scots College Hugo Stoner in their match up. Both semi-finals ran to form with Will Sargent dominating his match against Taylor Rogers (QLD), whilst Hugo Stoner defeated the highest ranked skipper in the regatta, Sam King from Hutchins School (TAS) to advance to the finals.
The Finals series saw a great display of match racing between the two teams, with all 5 matches needed to determine the regatta winner. Race 1 saw a late charge from Stoner and his team, but a controversial umpiring decision gifted the Tasmanians the early lead. Stoner and his team came storming back in the following two races, to level the series, then pass heading into Race 4. After a pre-start penalty to Sargent in Race 4, the race unfolded for Stoner at the top mark in lap 1, when he collided with Sargent in a port and starboard situation. That collision cancelled out Sargent’s penalty, and gave him control of the race to level the series and take it to a tie breaker.
In the final winner-takes-all race, both teams threw everything at the race, with several lead changes on each leg. But the race and the regatta were decided at the bottom mark gate, when an intense gybing and luffing duel catching the Scots team off guard. This allowed Sargent to round cleanly and ahead to sail away up the final windward leg to take out the regatta 3-2.