Last week they got a shout out from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern and this week the Knots Racing team took out the Hardy Cup Sydney International Match Racing Regatta.
It's the fifth time a team from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron have taken out the regatta since the first in 2001, following on from Will Tiller (2001), Adrian Short (2009), Adam Minoprio (2007) and Laurie Jury (2004).
The Knots Racing team of skipper Nick Egnot-Johnson, Sam Barnett, Zac Merton and Bradley McLaughlin won yesterday's final 3-0 over the Chris Weis-skippered Del Rey Yacht Club team from California.
They did it in a classic Sydney summer sea breeze gusting to 20 knots and as two Black Hawk choppers cruised the skies and SailGP’s F50s passed impressively by the race track returning to base.
“It feels great; the boys sailed really fast today,” Egnot-Johnson said after the traditional celebratory team swim. “It’s one of the top youth match racing regattas, and this was great training in the asymmetric Elliotts before the next two regattas in New Zealand.
"We found the conditions really shifty. You could have a big lead but Del Rey was always right in it. It’s never over until it’s over. Big thanks to Reuben [Corbett] our coach, our family and friends, and thanks Jacinda for the shout-out at the Warren Jones Regatta in Perth last week."
Knots Racing came to the annual regatta as favourites and led at the end of the double round robin. The New Zealanders bravely chose James Hodgson from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, the next skipper in line on world rankings and the current Australian Open match racing champion, to face-off in the semifinals and it's a decision that nearly backfired.
“We regretted picking James for 99 percent of that last race,” Egnot-Johnson said. “I think I sailed the final downwind with my eyes closed saying Hail Marys and hoping for a puff to get around them.”
That semifinal went to a sudden death fifth and final flight and Hodgson had the break until the Kiwis hooked into a gust and screamed to the finish. The two teams engaged in a masterful match racing display in the closing seconds which had spectators holding their collective breath and the umpires scrambling, flags at the ready. In the end the CYCA team was left reeling from the late steal.
Hodgson won an aggressive third and final flight in the petite-final against CYCA clubmate Finn Tapper, who lost to Del Rey Yacht Club in their semifinal, to finish third overall from 11 teams.
Next for those teams continuing across the Tasman are the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club’s CentrePort Youth Match Racing Championship (February 13–17), followed by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Nespresso Youth International Match Racing Cup (February 21–24).
Meanwhile, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron are gearing up to host the much-anticipated launch of SailGP, when six foiling F50s take to the harbour February 15 and 16.