November 24 - 30, 2013: Issue 138

 HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championship Celebrates 21 years
By Damian Devine, RPAYC Marketing & Publicity Manager

The HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championship, hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club is celebrating its 21st year.The Championship is scheduled to be held from Wednesday 20 November to Sunday 24 November 2013.

"The HARKEN" as it is known in youth sailing circles worldwide, stands out as one of the premier events for youth on the international match racing calendar and has during its 21 year history served as a launch pad for a number of local yachting stars including dual winning skippers James Spithill, Michael Dunstan and Seve Jarvin.

This year 11 teams from Australia, New Zealand and USA are competing for the coveted Rockin’ Robin Perpetual Trophy*. The kiwis have had their hands on the trophy for the past four years including back to back wins in 2011 and 2012 by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s David Hazard. The Aussie teams will need to work hard to win it back.

2012 runner up Chris Steele also from RNZYS is back to try and get to the top of the podium after his debut as skipper last year. Steele said he is looking forward to the challenge, “This is a great event and we’re glad to be back to compete in the Harken. It was a little disappointing last year to get so close, so fingers crossed we’re hoping to go one better this time.

“Just hoping for some good breeze to make way for some good racing. No doubt there will be some challenging conditions and tough match racing over the next few days, so pretty excited. It would be nice if we could go through this week without dropping a match, that’s the aim anyway.”

Left: Chris Steele, last year’s runner up will start outright favourite in the 2013 Harken - photo by Damian Devine

Steele will start outright favourite for the event with the highest ISAF ranking of 22 amongst the skippers following a consistent year on the podium at various youth match racing events including winning the Musto International Youth Match Racing last November.

Other teams competing come from the host club The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht club, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Royal Port Nicholson Yacht club (NZ), Gosford Sailing club and Royal Club of Tasmania. A famous Australian namesake in Jack Thompson is representing the Newport Harbour Yacht club (USA) and has flown out to Australia solo to meet up with a fresh, new crew who are all graduates of the RPAYC’s youth development program including Kasja Doyle, Josh Dawson, Matt Stenta and Milly Bennett. Thompson will gain some invaluable match racing experience after earlier this year competing in the Governor’s Cup hosted by the Balboa Yacht club.

The 2013 Harken International event is certified Grade 3 for ISAF match race rankings. Each team can have up to five crew with a maximum crew weight limit of 350Kg, all of who must be under 21 years of age.

After a team weigh-in, practice session and opening ceremony on Wednesday, match racing commenced on Pittwater on Thursday at 1000hrs and conclude with the finals on Sunday 24 November.

The courses will be standard match racing windward/leeward set up and racing will take place in the big pond just north of Scotland Island.

The regatta will be sailed in the club's fleet of Force 24' yachts for the final time as the club is set to replace these with a fleet of Elliot 7s in early 2014.

The teams will sail a double round robin with each crew racing each other twice. The top two teams will then battle it out in a best of five final and the next two in the best of three petit final. The remaining seven teams battle it out in a single round robin to decide 5th to 11th places.

Race Officer for the event will once again be Ted Anderson whose experience goes back to the Olympic match racing in 2000 and Chief Umpire Phil Mostyn who leads a formidable cast of umpires with national and international experience.

Teams will be billeted with RPAYC Club members, a custom that has forged many longstanding friendships in past years. The organisation of an event of this calibre would not be possible without the aid of a dedicated team of volunteers and RPAYC members.
One of the premier events for youth on the match racing circuit, the 2013 HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championship marks the 16th consecutive year with HARKEN Australia as naming rights sponsor and is one of the longest standing regatta partnerships in the world.

Above right: Downwind sailing in the 2012 Harken final - photo by Damian Devine

Their ongoing commitment to the development of youth match racing is a credit to the Northern Beaches leading manufacturer and marketer of quality sailboat hardware and accessories.

Conditions for the first day of competition are forecast to be a light East North Easter building to 12-13 knots later in the day.


* Robyn Wiltshire presented the club with a perpetual trophy named the ‘Rockin’ Robin Trophy’. Robyn presented the trophy in memory of her husband Grant and son Robert, Andrew Young & Jeff Smith, all club members who tragically lost their lives at sea aboard the yacht ‘Rockin’ Robin’ whilst on passage to Fiji in 1990.


Chris Steele provisional leader after Day One - Thursday 21 November, 2013

Pre championship favourite Chris Steele representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron led the way after day one of the Harken Youth Match Racing Championship with a perfect 8 wins from 8 starts in the stage one round robin on Pittwater yesterday, hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.

After the 0830hrs race briefing, racing got underway at 1000hrs under Race Officer Ted Anderson in a steady 10 knot East North easterly that built to 15 knots later in the day with a course set north of Scotland Island.

In an epic day for competitors, race officials and umpires, racing didn’t complete until after 6pm taking advantage of the excellent breeze and saw 14 of the 19 flights completed.

Steel, the runner up last year and the highest ranked match racer in the fleet and in his third Harken regatta, second as skipper was his steely self as he went through the motions to knock up his eight bullets. He has two matches left in today’s completion of stage one of the round robin with one against second placed Malcolm Parker representing the host club, the RPAYC who had a great day also with six wins from seven matches. This should be an interesting battle with Parker and his crew looking determined out on the race track on day one.

Right: Second placed Malcolm Parker and crew coming to the top mark - photo by Damian Devine

There was a short delay to racing this morning of day two as the AP was flown awaiting a thunder storm to pass. Race Committee and competitors finally made their way to the start line a little after 103hrs. Due to the conditions and the forecast for tomorrow of very little breeze the Race Committee have amended the sailing instructions to accommodate.

There are still five flights remaining to complete round one which will be first up today. Following that the top six skippers will move to stage two and will sail a single round robin with points carried forward from Round One. The top four skippers from stage two will go through to the semi finals/finals stage. Stage three will see a single round robin for the remaining skippers to determine 7th to 11th placings.

The forecast for today is for a freshening 20-25 knot North Easter with the chance of more rain and a top of 24 degrees. If the forecast rings true, there is a good window of opportunity for the race committee to complete round one and as much of round two and three as possible in  challenging conditions on Pittwater.
Follow all the action on the water from Thursday with live results at: /

Standings after Round Robin One:
Chris Steel (RNZYS) – 8/8
Malcolm Parker (RPAYC) – 6/7
George Brasell (RNZYS) – 5.5/7
Sam Ellis (GSC) –  4/8
Oliver Hartas (CYCA) – 3/5
Jack Thompson (NHYC) – 3/5
Samuel Mackay (RPNYC) – 3/6
Clare Costanzo (RPAYC) -  3/8
Zac Pullen (RYCT) – 2/8
Eddie Moult (RSYS) – 2/9
Blake Poole (GSC) – 0/8

Downwind duelling into the finish line as penalties played out in an exciting match between Clare Costanzo (RPAYC) and Zac Pullen (RYCT)


Weather dictates terms on Day Two of Harken International Youth Match Racing - Friday 22 November 2013

It was the weather Gods dictating terms on Pittwater today for Day two of the 21st Harken International Youth Match Racing Championship, hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. Only three flights and ten races all up were able to be completed with the nor’ easter tipping the scales at 25 knots and forcing an abandonment to racing shortly after 2pm.

Pittwater was at its limit with the extreme conditions testing the fleet of Force 24s, the race committee and the competitors in a wild day on the water. There was thunder and lightning early on, followed by rain, more storm clouds, a little ray of sunshine, lots of breeze, a little bit of everything making it challenging for all.

The day was book-ended by the AP flag with a short delay to racing this morning as the race committee waited for an electrical storm to pass. The race committee and competitors made their way to the start area shortly before 1100hrs and then  set a course in a building 18-20 knot Nor Easter.

The first flight got underway at 1230hrs with match one seeing RPAYC’s Malcolm Parker defeating Newport Harbour’s Jack Thompson in a close finish with both boats flying through the finish with less than a boat length between them. In match two the other RPAYC competitor and only female skipper, Clare Costanzo defeated New Zealander Sam Mackay after a tight start but with a man overboard on Mackay's team early in the match created distance between the two teams and a happy victory for Costanzo. In Match three CYCA Oliver Hartas defeated Blake Poole from Gosford.

Overnight leader Chris Steele from Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron picked up from where he left off yesterday and was dominant again today, winning both his races comfortably to go into stage two of the regatta on top of the leaderboard with a perfect ten from ten.

In the most anticipated match of the round between the undefeated Steele and second placed Malcolm Parker, who had only dropped one race to date, it was a race that had everything with a collision in the pre start forcing a penalty on Parker, an exciting start, close tacking duel on the first beat, close mark rounding at the top, a downwind pass and then a chinese and a blown kite on the boat of Parker’s ending any chance of victory in the race.

Right: Parker leads coming into the top mark,  photo by Damian Devine

After the incident in the pre start and some classic match racing tactics, Parker bore away to get over the start a clear boat length in front of Steele. He held his nerve on the beat upwind in a spectacular tacking duel as both crews favoured the left hand side of the course with Parker leading at every cross. Steele was moving in coming into the top mark hot on the heels of Parker and the breeze now strong and steady at 25 knots with white caps carpeting Pittwater.

Both had clean spinnaker sets as they rounded the top mark with Steele trying to steal the lead as they turned but couldn’t get through the hole. About three quarters down the run, Steele seized the opportunity pushing Parker past the starboard layline, gybing and getting over the top of Parker in a well executed manoeuvre.

Then it all went horribly wrong for Parker in the challenging conditions when a gust gave the boat the wobbles and Chinese gybed the boat, losing control momentarily and forcing the kite to blow. He executed his penalty trying to regain composure as the crew worked hard and fast to get the spinnaker back on deck. By the time they were in control, Steele had shot through and was half way back up the second beat as Parker rounded the bottom mark. Steele showed why he is ranked 22 in the world with his experience shining through and going on to win by almost a leg in the end.

As Steele crossed the line and carnage looming, the Race Committee flew the AP over A flags and racing was abandoned shortly after 2pm. A wise decision as the breeze strengthened and storms moved in as the crews made their way back to the safe haven of the yacht club.

Steele said after the race, “That’s the first time we have been beaten off the start this regatta so we had to play catch up and work hard. We both went left following the shift on the first beat and we tried a couple of things to get past them but it was always going to be hard on that first work. We were right behind them at the top mark and had a nice set as we turned and thought we were going to pass them there but we stayed patient and managed to push them past the starboard layline, gybed and took our opportunity to get over the top of them three quarters of the way down the run and took it from there. But yeah, it was very close until they got into trouble.”

Right: Steele coming to the finish in his match versus Parker to end round one with a perfect 10,  photo by Damian Devine

On sitting on a perfect ten points at the end of stage one of the Harken, Steele commented, “We’re going pretty well, sticking to the plan and sitting exactly where we wanted to be. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens tomorrow with the conditions but we will give it our best and we’re looking forward to it.”

Due to the forecast tomorrow with 2-5 knot NW turning to WSW the Race Committee have amended the sailing instructions to get a fair result from the regatta. There are still four individual races to complete stage one, following that the top six skippers will move to stage two and will sail a single round robin with points carried forward from Round One. The top four skippers from stage two will go through to the semi finals/finals stage. Stage three will see a single round robin for the remaining skippers to determine 7th to 11th placings if time and weather permits. Time will tell what Huey decides to throw at Pittwater over the next two days of the Harken regatta.

Standings after Progressive Round Robin One:
Chris Steele (RNZYS) – 10/10
Malcolm Parker (RPAYC) – 8/10
George Brasell (RNZYS) – 6.5/9
Sam Ellis (GSC) –  6/10
Clare Costanzo (RPAYC) -  5/10
Oliver Hartas (CYCA) – 4/8
Jack Thompson (NHYC) – 4/8
Samuel Mackay (RPNYC) – 3/8
Eddie Moult (RSYS) – 2/9
Zac Pullen (RYCT) – 2/10
Blake Poole (GSC) – 0/10


Thunderstorms rain on the parade on Day Three of Harken International Youth Match Racing - Saturday 23 November 2012

The penultimate day of competition in the 2013 Harken Youth International Match Racing Championship hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club only saw the completion of stage one a benign Pittwater today with just four matches sailed.

In a stark contrast to yesterday’s 25 knot North Easter, today saw light, shifty conditions on Pittwater with a fluky ENE clocking 0 to 5 knots early on in light rain as the race committee were determined to complete the final four races of the stage one round robin and move onto the next stage.

Racing got underway shortly before 1030hrs on a course set at 040 with the final two matches of flight 18 to be decided. George Brasell representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron defeated Oliver Hartas from the Cruising Yacht Club Australia by more than a full leg as the breeze died as the pair neared the bottom mark for the first time. Brasell picked up a fluky shift on the left hand side of the course whilst Hartas got stuck in a hole and never recovered.

In the other match Jack Thompson from the USA’s Newport Harbour Yacht Club won by two boat lengths over Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club’s Sam Mackay in a well executed race.

Eddie Moult and Jack Thompson in the pre start, photo by Damian Devine.

Then the AP flag went as the breeze died as a series of storm cells hovered overhead form more than two hours with the breeze shifting to the South West then back to the North East when the storms finally cleared. The crews waited another hour for the clouds to lift and the sky to clear allowing the breeze to fill in to a respectable 10 knots from the North North East.

Three hours later and racing was able to recommence on a course set just off Longnose Point with everyone eager to get racing after a long sojourn.

The final flight 19 saw a match between Sam Mackay and Oliver Hartas with Mackay winning it quite easily after a restart due to a wind shift on the first beat. Mackay won the start and led around every mark to easily account for Hartas.

The final match was from an earlier postponement between Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s Eddie Moult and Jack Thompson that also had a restart due to a wind shift. Moult won the start and picked a shift on the favoured side of the course extending his advantage to four boat lengths at the bottom mark and in the end won by three lengths over a fast finishing Thompson.

Above: Sam Mackay crossing the finish line, photo by Damian Devine

Following the completion of round robin the umpires and race committee convened and decided due to the shifty conditions today and the lack of racing they decided to abandon racing at 1630hrs and amend the event format from a super six and a sail off for 6th to 11th to a final four and sail off for 5th to 10th with semi finals and final to follow tomorrow.

Race Officer Ted Anderson said of the decision, “The wind was very shifty out there once we got started and we felt that it would have been difficult to get through a super six round robin which may have been to the detriment of the semis and finals, which is not what everybody wants. This way all teams will get a sail tomorrow and we will get a result. We’re hoping for a better day and the forecast is certainly looking that way.”

RPAYC Club coach Tom Spithill commented on the day, “it was a disappointing day and the weather didn’t come to play. Ted and his team had a frustrating day and I would have hated to have been on the mark boat.”

Guy Pilkington, coach of the two RNZYS teams said, “the aim of the game is always to get my guys into the semi finals because you can win the regatta from there. My guys have been pretty consistent all week, getting good starts, picking the shifts well and sailing well together in their respective teams. I am particularly happy for George finishing third in his first international regatta. We’ll see what happens tomorrow but hopefully they will continue doing what they have been all week and we can get a favourable result.”

Tom Spithill commented on RPAYC’s  Malcolm Parker and crews performance this week saying, “Their upwind speed has been very good and their mark rounding have been clean but there is still plenty of improvements with their starts and the downwinds have been their Achilles heel, so hoping to improve on that tomorrow in the semi finals.”

Tomorrow semi finals will be best of three and the final a best of five. Stage One leader Chris Steele has the option on who he chooses to sail against and that will be announced tomorrow morning at the boat draw.

Conditions are forecast to be 10-15 knot South Westerly under sunny skies and a top of 25 degrees for the final day of competition giving competitors a taste of everything over the four days of competition.

With the completion of stage one round robin of the Harken the standings are as follows;
Chris Steele (RNZYS) – 10/10
Malcolm Parker (RPAYC) – 8/10
George Brasell (RNZYS) – 7.5/10
Sam Ellis (GSC) –  6/10
Clare Costanzo (RPAYC) -  5/10
Jack Thompson (NHYC) – 5/10
Sam Mackay (RPNYC) – 4/10
Oliver Hartas (CYCA) – 5/10
Eddie Moult (RSYS) - 3/10
Zac Pullen (RYCT) - 2/10
Blake Poole (GSC) -  0/10
Follow all the action on the water with live results at: /


Chris Steele’s the show to claim victory in the 2013 Harken -  Sunday 24 November 2013

Day four – Harken International Youth Match Racing Championship

After four days of racing, Chris Steele from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron stole the show to be crowned the 2013 Harken youth match racing champion with a resounding win today in the final on Pittwater, hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
His crew of George Anyon, Rawiri Geddes and Josh Salthouse worked extremely well together to cement a comfortable  3-0 victory in a best of five over Gosford Sailing Club’s Sam Ellis to get his hands on the Rockin’ Robin perpetual trophy for the first time after his bridesmaid finish in 2012.

Match Racing action - Brasell and Parker in the pre start – photo by Damian Devine

In the three race petit final, it was the RNZYS compatriot George Brasell, in his first international regatta, with a 2-1 win over the host club’s Malcolm Parker meaning two places on the podium for the kiwis and the third year in a row that Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron take home the silverware. In fact, this win catapults RNZYS past the RPAYC as the club with the most wins in the Harken, with seven, in the 21 year history of the championship.

The 2013 HARKEN event was a challenge for Race Officer Ted Anderson as the weather Gods dictated terms over two of the four days, however, the final day presented a sunshine on Pittwater with a 8-10 knot South Easterly when racing got underway at 1030hrs on a picturesque course in the little pond south of Scotland Island. It was all smooth sailing for the race committee with no delays to complete the regatta.

Today’ s program staged the sail off between 5th to 11th positions and the semi finals, petit and final.

With the 11 teams now four, the semi finals saw stage one leader Chris Steele electing to sail off against second placed Malcolm Parker from the RPAYC leaving third placed Brasell to face Sam Ellis.

Steele defeated Parker 2-0 with Parker showing good signs in the first race beating Steele of the start with a two boat length advantage before Steele managed to out tack Parker on the first beat to lead at the top mark and maintained that for the rest of the race.
In the other semi, Ellis defeated Brasell 2-1 halting any chance of back to back all RNZYS kiwi final. For Sam Ellis from Gosford Sailing Club, this was to be his first final in just his third youth match regatta as helmsman. Ellis was pretty happy with himself saying, “Just stoked, I am thrilled to be in my maiden final as skipper. I finished 7th last year in this event and my aim this week was to podium so I am just so happy to get into the final against Chris.”

Parker and crew preparing for a top mark rounding – photo by Damian Devine

The boat draw prior to the finals had Steele and Parker opting for starboard entry in their first match ups against Ellis and Brasell.
Steele led from start to finish and was undefeated over the four days of competition and certainly showed why he is worthy of his ranking of 22 in the world and the clear favourite coming into the regatta. He sailed error free in the three race final, with excellent crew work, good pre starts and clever upwind and downwind sailing and was never behind over the best of five races, to be the deserved winner.
In a penalty free final, Steel took a comfortable victory after a close start in the first match with a 10 boat length win after picking the shifts on the left hand side of the course to lead at the top mark by three boat lengths. Steele again proved to be stronger downwind pulling away at the bottom mark to extend his lead by six boat lengths. Steele increased his lead picking up another shift half way up the beat to lead by ten boat lengths at the top mark for the final time. He sailed comfortably on the final downwind to maintain his lead lead with the breeze steady at 10 knots.

The second and third match were pretty much a carbon copy of the first match with only a slight wind shift to the right for the second match and then back to the left for the third with Steele dominating proceedings in the pre starts, off the line, keeping pace on the upwinds and the downwinds to win quite easily with another 10 boat lead in match two and by almost a leg in the third match in a near perfect race to win three from three.

In the final run to the finish under the appropriately coloured black spinnaker, the kiwis crossed the line at 1435hrs and with high fives all round and the obligatory dive into the water, a jubilant Steele was crowned the 2013 Harken youth match racing champion.

For Steele this will be his third and last Harken and was thrilled to go one better this year to claim victory. Steel commented on the water post race, “I’m ecstatic, this is exactly what we aimed for at the start of the week so we executed our plan perfectly. The boys sailed really well and made all the right calls with the laylines and shifts at the right time, so really happy. We made a couple of mistakes in the semis but made up for it in the final.
“Thanks to Harken for sponsoring the event and supporting youth match racing. It’s been a great week and a great regatta and the Alfreds have made us all feel welcome. We achieved what set out to do, so really pleased and just hope we can carry this form into next week,” added Steele as heads to the harbour tomorrow to defend his Musto Youth Match Racing title he won same time last year at the CYCA.

The winners are grinners; Chris Steele and crew after winning the 2013 Harken – photo by Damian Devine

In the petit final, the win to Brasell placing him on the podium was excellent considering this is his first international youth match racing regatta and is only 18 years old. He snatched victory from Parker in the final race in the best of three after Parker got a penalty on Brasell straight after the start for failing to duck with Parker on starboard. However, Brasell led around the top and bottom marks and on the final upwind extended his lead after Parker went left anticipating a shift and with enough space Brasell was able to execute his penalty near the top mark and attack Parker on starboard to have the advantage going around the mark for the final time. With a boat length lead for the final downwind he was able to maintain that in the run to the finish with Parker trying valiantly to pass.

Also sailed today were the consolation fifth to tenth placings in a sudden death sail off with Jack Thompson (NHYC) defeating Clare Costanza (RPAYC) to take fifth, Sam Mackay (RPNYC) taking care of Oliver Hartas (CYCA) for seventh whilst Eddie Moult accounted for Zac Pullen to finish in 10th position. Blake Poole (GSC) was placed 11th.

The final comment went to Race Officer Ted Anderson who said, “An extremely challenging week and the weather Gods were definitely not on our side, however, it was sailed in good spirits and the competitors were of a good sporting nature. Congratulations once again to Royal New Zealand and Chris Steele who was a real stand out this week and thanks to my race team and the umpires.”

Final Placings
Place / Skipper / Club
1.Chris Steele (RNZYS)
2.Sam Ellis (GSC)
3.George Brasell (RNZYS)
4.Malcolm Parker (RPAYC)
5.Jack Thompson (NHYC)
6.Clare Costanzo (RPAYC)
7.Sam Mackay (RPNYC)
8.Oliver Hartas (CYCA)
9.Eddie Moult (RSYS)
10.Zac Pullen (RYCT)
11.Blake Poole (GSC)


One of the premier events for youth on the match racing circuit, the 2013 HARKEN International Youth Match Racing Championship marks the 16th consecutive year with HARKEN Australia as naming rights sponsor.

Their ongoing commitment to the development of youth match racing is a credit to the Northern Beaches leading manufacturer and marketer of quality sailboat hardware and accessories.


Issue 138's Pictorial is full page Pictures from first three days action, all by Damian Devine HERE 

 By Damian Devine, RPAYC Marketing & Publicity Manager, Copyright RPAYC.