New Zealand's top youth match racing team will battle for the grand slam and a place at the Congressional Cup after winning Oakcliff Sailing International in New York over the weekend.
The team of Nick Egnot-Johnson, Zak Merton and Sam Barnett were joined by Bradley McLaughlin and Graeme Sutherland for the third leg of four that make up the grand slam. They beat Dave Perry and his crew 3-2 in the final to take the title, after earlier finishing the double round robin in second.
"Really stoked to take out the Oakcliff International," the team said in a Facebook post. "We had a really close battle with Dave Perry, the man who wrote the playbook on match racing, which went to 2-2 before we won the battle at the bottom gate to win the race and the title.
"Fizzing to win some prizemoney and put ourselves in a strong position for the overall grand slam. The whole team sailed well and are grateful for all the support we are getting from home. Starting the Thompson Cup on Tuesday to decide the grand slam in the same boats and venue."
The team, who are part of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squardon's performance programme, were 10th in the Chicago Match Cup and third at the Detroit Cup before their breakthrough win. The winner of the overall series, which is decided by the best results at three of the four events, wins a spot at the Congressional Cup.
Egnot-Johsnon, Merton and Barnett, who are presently ranked 60th in the match racing world rankings but who are bound to rise after their recent results, were also fourth at July's youth world match racing championships in Italy.
- There was more success on the match racing circuit recently, with New Zealand's Celia Willison finishing second at the CYCA Women's Match Racing Regatta in Sydney last weekend.
The two-day event saw eight teams from New South Wales, Queensland and New Zealand compete, with Willison joined by Marie Kent (trim), Charlotte Porter (main), Zoe Dawson (float) and Alison Kent on the bow.
They beat India Howard in their semifinal but went down to Olympic silver medallist Olivia Price 3-0 in the final. The racing in the final was much closer than the scoreline suggested, but Price's downwind speed and aggression gave her the edge.
“We had some new blood on our team this weekend and are stocked with how we pulled ourselves together,” Willison told Live Sail Die. “[Price] was a force to be reckoned with and we understand how she won silver at the Olympic Games because she nailed us and we lost 3-0. However, all things considered, we were so happy with how we raced.”
The trophy has been re-dedicated in 2018 as the John Messenger Perpetual Trophy, after John, a strong supporter of female sailing, passed away at the end of last year.
The New Zealand women's match racing team will soon head back to Australia to compete in the Australian women’s and open national championships.