The Aussies Are Coming! New Zealand’s Best Youth Sailors Ready for Trans-Tasman Test

 In International Events, Major Regattas, Match Racing, News

For the first time in 2 years, the best of Australia’s youth match racing teams are crossing the ditch to take on New Zealand’s best on our home water on the Waitemata Harbour for the Harken Youth International Match Racing Cup, being held at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron from the 18th to 22nd of May.

2021 and 2022 Hardy Cup winner out of The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Finn Tapper, headlines the Australian teams, with the Harken Youth International being another importantstep on the pathway to the 2022 Youth Match Racing World Championship being raced later this year in France. 

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s Finn Tapper on day 1 of the Hardy Cup – Darcie Collington Photography/RSYS

“It’s awesome to be competing internationally again, and we as a team are super excited to head back to New Zealand and then to France and the US later in the year”, says Finn.

“This regatta is a key stepping stone on our journey to France where our goal is to win the 2022 Youth Match Racing World Championship, and this is the first opportunity in a long time for us where we will be in a regatta with 12+ plus teams”.

“As always, our focus is to take it one race at a time and get as many wins under the belt as we can”.

He will be joined at the Harken Youth International, Governor’s Cup and Youth Match Racing World Championship by 2021 Auckland Match Racing Champion and CenterPort Youth Match Racing Regatta Champion Robbie McCutcheon. Tapper and McCutcheon have already competed against each other at the Hardy Cup last weekend, where McCutcheon was able to take 2 of the round robin races from the eventual winner Tapper and placed 3rd.

McCutcheon in action at the New Zealand Match Racing Championships – William Woodworth/RNZYS

The CYCA will also be sending Australia’s 2019 Youth Sailing Champions League helmsman and 4th placed Hardy Cup skipper Jack Littlechild and his crew, while D’Arcy Kemp’s team flies the flag for the Royal Prince Albert Yacht Club.  

The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s teams, helmed by Jed Cruickshank and Xavier McLachlan, come into the Harken Youth International with Cruickshank coming from the Hardy Cup as well after a strong showing on home water. Cruickshank is no stranger to the Harken Youth International, having skippered the last time overseas teams competed in this event at the 2020 edition.

All 5 of the Australian crews will be looking to stake their claim to the Harken Youth International Match Racing Cup title, and the regatta is a target to show the fantastic depth of sailors that the 3 Sydney clubs have recently been producing.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will be well represented alongside McCutcheon, with 5 Mastercard Youth Training Programme crews helmed by Maeve White, Braedyn Denney, Max McLachlan, Rory Sims and Josh Hyde, who have all come leaps and bounds this year and showed their match racing prowess throughout the 2021-22 New Zealand summer season.

Hyde had Tapper’s number in the Hardy Cup round robin’s and beat McCutcheon to win the 2022 Youth Match Racing National Championship. but finished just outside the Hardy Cup’s semi-final places to end up 5th with a sail-off win over Jed Cruickshank.

Josh Hyde (left) and his crew celebrating a great race performance on Day 1 of the Hardy Cup – Darcie Collington Photography/RSYS

2022 Youth Match Racing National Championship semi-finalist Jon Barnett and his team will be travelling up from Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club in Wellington to try and take the title south, as will accomplished Optimist sailor out of Nelson Yacht Club Noah Malpot, after moving into the larger Elliott 7 keelboats for this regatta.

The wildcard entry this year was earned by 2022 New Zealand Secondary Schools Keelboat Champion Lucas Day and his Westlake Boys High School team, sailing under the Murray’s Bay Sailing Club banner for the regatta.

While the teams of McCutcheon and Tapper come into the regatta looking for as much competitive sailing as possible before they head overseas, each of the other 12 crews won’t be making any of the matches easy on the Governor’s Cup and Youth Match Racing World Championship qualified crews. Each of the teams are eager to put their names on the trophy and be added to the long list of prominent sailors that have won this title, like Jimmy Spithill, Graeme Sutherland, Phil Robertson, and Josh Junior.

Maeve White (right) and her team getting ready for the New Zealand Women’s Match Racing Championship final – William Woodworth/RNZYS

However, Tapper and his Hardy Cup winning crew are looking to continue their form from winning last weekend’s event, as well as the New South Wales State Championship. “Our strength will be getting off the line cleanly and doing the simple things right to make it difficult to overtake”, says Tapper, and with his recent results the other crews will need to be at their best to get past the CYCA team this weekend.

With plenty of sailing to take place from the 18th to the 22nd of May, this year’s Harken Youth International Match Racing Championship is shaping up to be an incredibly competitive regatta, with possible winners and plenty of skill and potential throughout the fleet. The RNZYS is looking forward to getting the regatta started and hosting the stars of New Zealand and Australia’s sailing future over the next few days.

Entry List

Finn Tapper – Cruising Yacht Club of Australia

Robbie McCutcheon – Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron

Maeve White – RNZYS

Jed Cruickshank – Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron

Jack Littlechild – CYCA

Max McLachlan – RNZYS

Josh Hyde – RNZYS

Jon Barnett – Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club

Xavier McLachlan – RSYS

Braedyn Denney – RNZYS

Noah Malpot – Nelson Yacht Club

D’Arcy Kemp – Royal Prince Albert Yacht Club

Lucas Day – Murray’s Bay Sailing Club

Rory Sims – RNZYS

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