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Australian Youth Matching Racing Champions

With fellow crew members Nick Rozenauers, Harry Hall and helm James Hodgson, last week we won the 2019 Australian Youth Match Racing Championship, defeating fellow Youth Academy members Finn Tapper, George Richardson, Jess Grimes, Emma Harrison and Jake Liddell 2-1 in a tough contest on Sydney Harbour. For my skipper James Hodgson, runner-up in the previous two Championships, to get top spot was a great result and well-deserved. For my team members, as a new combination racing together for the first time, it was great to come away with a win. For me, it's hard to believe that I have been part of two National Youth Championship wins, in New Zealand and now Australia, in the past 12 months. The Championship, which began in 2001 with familiar names like Nathan Outteridge, Katie Spithill and Michael Dunstan among the participants, has a long tradition of producing the next generation of sailing talent. The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has also enjoyed considerable success over this time with Youth Academy sailors claiming more than half the National titles over the event's history.

The contest was once again held in identical Elliott 7's supplied by the host club. A match race consists of two identical boats racing against each other. This is a one-on-one duel of strategy and tactics and the objective is simple - to be the first to cross the finish line. Held over four days on the picturesque Sydney Harbour, the event included representative teams from New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and Tasmania. After a great performance in the preliminary rounds, coming through undefeated after 15 races, the final was always going to be difficult facing off against our fellow Youth Academy team members and friends. In a shortened best-of-three races, both teams were tied at one win apiece after some very tight racing and a number of penalty infringements. The final winner-take-all race was a nail-bitter, with both boats rounding the top mark very close together. Ultimately it came down to the downwind leg where we managed to pick the right side of the course and ended up with the win and the Championship.

It was a great week of sailing and a fantastic result for our first hit out as a team despite me falling off the boat in the semi-finals after an acrobatic move that went horribly wrong. Not particularly funny at the time, but we were all able to laugh about it afterwards and it didn't affect the end result - thank goodness! With the support of the CYCA Board, we have been chosen to represent the CYCA at the Youth World Championship in February 2020 in New Zealand. One of my childhood dreams was to win a World Championship so I look forward to another opportunity to represent Australia as part of this new team and just maybe secure a World title - you never know!

Having made the decision to move to Sydney to join the CYCA Youth Academy, I have been lucky to race with many great people at both the CYCA Youth Academy and through the big boat program. I loved sailing with Finn and his team last year and now having been asked to join James' team, the camaraderie is just as strong with another great bunch of people. I look forward to racing with these guys in several lead-up events to the Worlds and will keep you all updated as to our progress.

It's hard to believe but on Friday I'm back on the TP52 Zen for Race 3 of the Blue Water Pointscore Series - the 215nm Newcastle Bass Island Race as part of their preparation for this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart. This is another item on my bucket list - to race on a TP52 in an overnight ocean race - so I can't wait to get on-board next week and continue to learn as much as I can about this form of racing.

I look forward to filling you all in with the details next week. Hopefully I stay on-board this time!

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