Two RNZYS Crews Traverse the Tasman for World Match Racing Tour Final
The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) has two qualified match racing crews at the World Match Racing Tour Final (WMRT) racing out of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) over five scheduled race days from Wednesday 14 to Sunday 18 December on Sydney Harbour.
The RNZYS teams are poised to build upon the club’s legacy of success in match racing, most recently boasting 2nd and 3rd place finishes at November’s Barfoot & Thompson Women’s Match Racing World Championship sailed on home waters.
The RNZYS Performance Programme crews competing for the world title consist of KNOTS Racing, helmed by Nick Egnot-Johnson alongside Zak Merton, Sam Barnett, and Bradley McLaughlin, and 2.0 Racing, helmed by Megan Thomson with Charlotte Porter, Johanna Bergqvist, Clare Costanza and Andre Van Dam aboard.
Ten teams from seven countries are being represented at this year’s WMRT Final for the Open Match Racing World Championship. Denmark, Estonia, France, and Italy each have one entry, whilst hosts Australia, New Zealand and the USA will each field two teams for the event. The winner of the event will be crowned 2022 WMRT Champion and World Sailing Open Match Racing World Champion.
Megan Thomson and 2.0 Racing are the only majority women’s team to have qualified for the World Match Racing Tour final after coming off a 3rd place at the recent Barfoot & Thompson Women’s Match Racing World Championship in Auckland. They earned their qualification for the World Match Racing World Championship through their excellent performances in the US Grand Slam Series.
Unfortunately, many of the crew that sailed under the 2.0 Racing flag in 2022 have been unable to make the trip due to work commitments – but Thomson is still excited to see how the new combinations will perform to cap off a stellar 2022 on the helm. Kiwi Porter, Australian Costanzo and Swede Bergqvist all competed against Thomson at the Women’s World Championships, while Van Dam is aiming for a spot at the 2024 Olympics in the 470 Mixed.
This is not the only time 2.0 has had to make substitutions – their first 2022 Women’s Match Racing World Tour event in Normandy, France seeing all but two members of the team hit with Covid. However, the World Championship crew is motivated to carry the 2.0 name for team members keeping track from home – Ellie Copeland, Chelsea Rees, Josi Andres, and Anna Merchant.
“Our usual strength is the time we have spent together and the training we have done over the years – however, with our team for the Tour finals our first day sailing together will be the training day prior to the event starting as half our team currently resides in Sydney. In saying that, the new look 2.0 we have brings many strengths from a range of campaigns, so I am excited to get on the water and learn to combine these skill sets,” analyses Thomson.
“Committing to do this event was a bit last minute – but it’s not every day you get invited to a World Tour final.”
Megan has been on Kawau Island for the past week coaching at the RNZYS’s annual MasterCard Youth Training Week 1, so the New Zealand-based half of the team made the trek to squeeze in a small boat handling session aboard an Elliott 7 after the day’s training was complete. This also had the impact of enhancing the experience of the Youth Training Week with the 40 youth sailors able to watch a world-class crew in action.
“It’s probably not the way you would usually prepare for a World Championship regatta – but with the hectic nature of December we’re doing the best we can.”
Match Racing sees boats compete in one-on-one matchups in the style of the America’s Cup regatta, with the format seeing a round robin where the top two teams qualify directly to the quarterfinals and earn a rest day, while the remaining eight teams compete in a repechage round robin to decide the other six quarter-finalists. This gives all crews two opportunities to make their way into the knockout rounds over the weekend.
“I’m always most excited for the round robin and getting to race all the teams” admitted Thomson. “It’s one of the highlights of any event for me, especially having previously raced a number of the teams.”
Despite racing on the other side of the Tasman, the Kiwi crews will have an advantage over some of the other crews racing, due to the RNZYS owning a fleet of the Elliott 7 keelboat that will be the yacht of choice this week in Sydney.
“The majority of our team has done a lot of time in the (Elliott) 7s, so it means on our training day we can focus more on gelling as a team rather than on the basic boat handling and how to get the boat moving”, observed Thomson.
“We saw that experience on the Elliott’s was a massive advantage at the Women’s World’s but having a few Sydney locals on board who will know the harbour well will be very helpful.”
KNOTS skipper Nick Egnot-Johnson echoes the sentiment, saying “The RNZYS crews are very lucky to have the ‘home-boat’ advantage with the Elliott 7’s – the last regatta we competed in as a team was April’s Congressional Cup in unfamiliar boats and getting a handle on them was tough so it’s an advantage that they will have to learn what we already know for a change”.
Egnot-Johnson and KNOTS Racing have found plenty of success in the youth sailing ranks however this will be their first open World Championship regatta.
A KNOTS crew of Egnot-Johnson, Barnett and Alistair Gifford won the 2019 Governors’ Cup – the premier youth Under 23 match racing international. Alongside this success, KNOTS won 2019’s Match Race Germany and Match Racing Super League, as well as two New Zealand Match Racing Championships.
They have also earned two podium finishes at the Youth Match Racing World Championships and 2nd at the Thompson Match Racing Cup in New York, alongside plenty of domestic titles across different formats and fleets. Egnot-Johnson was also shortlisted as New Zealand’s Youth America’s Cup skipper for 2020, which unfortunately was cancelled.
In the lead up to the WMRT Final, KNOTS had the opportunity to train against crews helmed by RNZYS Sailing Manager and current NZ Match Racing Champion skipper Reuben Corbett, the 2022 Governor’s Cup-winning Jordan Stevenson and American Dave Hood and his World Championship qualified crew DH3 Racing join them on Kawau Island to train together.
“They’re (DH3) an excellent group of blokes who really appreciated the opportunity to train on Elliott 7’s, and it was great to show them the slice of paradise that is Kawau Island as our training base”, said Nick.
“The Squadron and our local training partners in Reuben, Jordie and their crews have been so accommodating for us – without these training opportunities we would have been coming into a world championship having not raced together in 8 months”.
The KNOTS team are looking forward to sailing Sydney Harbour this week with plenty of familiar foes from their campaigns around the world, and Nick knows they will be up for some tight battles.
“We have come up through the youth ranks alongside plenty of our fellow World Championship crews like Chris Poole’s Riptide Racing and Harry Price’s CYCA team – it’s always good to have consistent competition against one another as we see each other as top benchmarks at any regatta. We’re ready for a super-competitive few days of sailing.”
Both 2.0 Racing and KNOTS Racing appreciate all the support that they have had from everyone at home and hope to cap off 2022 with great performances over the next 5 days of world-class sailing in Sydney.
The World Match Racing Tour Final can be followed LIVE HERE or via the CYCA website, https://cyca.com.au/, as well as the World Match Racing Tour Facebook page, www.facebook.com/worldmatchracingtour, and Instagram, @worldmatchracingtour.
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