McCutcheon books his ticket to 2022 Youth Match Racing World Championships
A forecasted wild weekend of weather came to fruition for the New Zealand Youth Match Racing Trials, held on the 19th and 20th of March, cancelling the Sunday knockout rounds. However, Robbie McCutcheon and his RNZYS GCH Racing team of Chester Duffett, Sam Street, Jack Frewin and Sofia Higgott successfully adapted their approach into the weekend to become the New Zealand representatives for the 2022 Youth Match Racing World Championships in Pornichet, France in July this year.
“Going into the regatta we knew the forecast looked very wild on the Sunday so the game plan was to put a lot of emphasis on the round robins on Saturday” said McCutcheon who navigated his way to remain unbeaten after day 1. “As a competitor, it would’ve been good to compete in the semis and finals stages of the regatta to get more experience and further the confidence of the team”. However, McCutcheon and his team aren’t complaining, having achieved their goal of qualification in convincing style.
The GCH Racing team went into the qualification weekend in great form and with well-deserved confidence, having won both the 2021 Auckland Match Racing Championship and CentrePort International Youth Match Racing Regatta. “We’ve enjoyed good success in the domestic regattas so we are eager to see how we line up against our international competition”, says McCutcheon.
McCutcheon was able to get a small amount of revenge over Josh Hyde and his Yosemite Sam Racing team, who upset GCH during the round robin in December’s 2021 Auckland Match Racing Championship, as well as over Wellington’s Will Wright who crashed into McCutcheon in their 2021 CenterPort Youth Match Racing Regatta semi-final. Hyde found himself in striking distance of McCutcheon going into the 2nd round robin having won his other races, but fell out of striking range after Tauranga’s Braedyn Denney beat Hyde to claim his first win of the weekend.
Max McLachlan’s RNZYS Youth Training Programme crew then had a chance to beat out Hyde for 2nd for the weekend, but couldn’t emerge from behind the Yosemite Sam crew. However with both teams only recently out of high school, they will have many more opportunities within the youth ranks going forward.
The GCH Racing team will be competing as a team for the first time in international competition, however they do not lack overseas sailing experience. “With all of us sailing different boats at a very high level growing up, we have 6 world championship appearances between us and multiple other international events respectively”, says McCutcheon, “so we have grown up around sailing against the best competition and can’t wait to do it all again.”
McCutcheon, Duffett, Street, Frewin and Higgott have a few months of domestic regattas to go before they embark on their trip to Pornichet in July, with the Harken Youth International Match Racing Cup and a potential May trip to Sydney in the pipeline, so the team has no excuses to be rusty for their trip to the Bay of Biscay
The team will have to adapt to a new boat, the J80 class, and new conditions in the Atlantic for the Youth Match Racing Championship. ”We’re already talking to connections we know who have sailed the boats and are accumulating a playbook for them, but we need to get local knowledge of sailing in the Atlantic from a few willing locals”.
With France’s Atlantic Coast being notorious for rough seas and wild weather, Saturday’s sailing will be similar conditions for the GCH Racing team – but McCutcheon believes the team will be ready and have “the best intentions heading over to the Youth Match Racing World Championship are excited for the challenge of racing the world’s best”.