The crew has changed but there was an all-too-familiar feeling aboard Danger Zone after two days of racing at the Young 88 national championships at the weekend.
The boat won a third consecutive national title, comprehensively beating Flash Gordon (helmed by Karyn Drummond) and Vagabond (Greg Wilshere) in a 13-boat fleet.
Danger Zone was sold earlier this year by former America’s Cup sailor Dean Barker, who claimed the same crown last year with star-studded crew (and good mates) Tony Rae, Jeremy Lomas, Ray Davies, Richard Meacham, James Dagg and Chris Ward.
After finishing third at last month’s Auckland championships and following a few mixed results in the Young 88 Sprint Series, new joint-owners Harry Thurston and Jonny Bell finally showed their pedigree aboard Danger Zone over the weekend, winning two of the seven races and finishing second in four others.
The crew - also including Sam Barnett, Taylor Balogh, Matt Kempkers, Thomas Olds and Thomas Bentham - were also awarded the Corinthian trophy for the first boat with no “professionals” aboard and the Tanaka Cup for the first owner-driver.
“We really enjoy the competitive racing the Young 88 class brings and the boys were firing on the weekend,” said Thurston.
“We are stoked to take the title in some very challenging conditions and we’re already looking forward to next year.”
Flash Gordon, on debut at the nationals, edged out the refurbished Vagabond on countback – with Drummond impressed by the quality of the fleet.
“It was really close, intense racing at the front and the back, where if you found yourself, it was near impossible to rise through. This class of boat is incredible,” Drummond said.
“It was awesome to get in seven races. [Race officer] Celia Carson and her race committee did a great job, as did the Y88 association team for the organisation of the nationals.”
First on handicap went to Satellite (Luke Judge), while the mixed crew award for first boat with more than two from a different gender was awarded to the team on War Machine (fourth overall).
According to Young 88 class association president Mike Leyland, the event was preceded by “the busiest weighing and measuring day on record”.
“Over 13 boats were put under the tape and on the scales at Half Moon Bay. After quite a few years of debate around retrospective compliance, the fleet is now as even and fairly matched as it has ever been,” Leyland said.
Results and standings from the 2023 Harken Young 88 national championships (13 boats):
1st: Danger Zone (Harry Thurston) 1 2 2 1 2 (9) 2 – 10 points
2nd: Flash Gordon (Karyn Drummond) 2 1 (10) 3 6 8 1 – 21 pts
3rd: Vagabond (Greg Wilshire) 3 3 6 4 (10) 2 3 – 21 pts
Full results here.