For the second consecutive year, a representative of the host club, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, has won the prestigious Hardy Cup Under 25, ISAF Grade 3 match racing event on Sydney Harbour.
Jordan Reece (22) and his Estate Master crew of Max Vos (19), Milly Bennett (19) and Jaiden Stevens (21), headed the leader board from day one, winning 24 matches and losing just three in a dominating demonstration of match racing in small boats.
Their tactics were near perfect, as were their sailing techniques in handling the Elliott 8 sports boats in a wide variety of breezes. Today’s semi-finals began in very light conditions but freshened to 8 knots from the south-east, enabling RSYS race officers to complete the entire program on schedule.
For Jordan, victory came with his fifth attempt to win the Hardy Cup, donated by eminent yachtsman and Squadron member Sir James Hardy to promote the skills of match racing among youth sailors.
For crew Max Vos and Milly Bennett this was their first Hardy Cup, but along with skipper Reece and Jaiden Stevens they proved a formidable combination against leading youth sailors from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.
After two round-robins, the four finalists were Jordan Reece (RSYS), David Gilmour (Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, WA), Chris Steele (Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, NZ) and Jay Griffin (Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, NSW).
Reece chose to take on Gilmour in the first semi-final but lost the first flight to the West Australia who last won the Warren Jones International Youth Regatta in Perth, WA. “We had a hard fight back to win the next two races and move on to the final,” Reece said.
With Jay Griffin making a late burst, beating the leading New Zealander Chris Steele 2-0, the stage was set for a final between teams from either side of Sydney Harbour.
The RSYS team skippered by Jordan Reece won the first two matches against Jay Griffin and his CYCA team, but Griffin fought back to take out race three.
“In the fourth match Jay was leading with about 50 metres to the finish,” Reece recalled. ‘’We gybed, luffed them and they received a penalty; game over for Jay!”
In the petit final David Gilmour defeated Chris Steele 2-0.
Jay Reece’s win in the Hardy Cup 2014 follows the victory by another RSYS skipper, David Chapman. Since the first Hardy Cup match racing in 2001, Squadron teams have now won eight times, three of those victories going to Michael Dunstan in 2002, 2005 and 2006.
Sir James Hardy watched the three day event from his classic gaff-rigger Nerida and it must have given him great pleasure to see his concept of youth match racing bearing fruition.
Of the eight individual winners of the Hardy Cup, almost every one has gone on to achieve further national and international success as key adult crew members, including tacticians aboard high-performance keelboat classes such as Farr 40s and TP52.
In fact, Jordan Reece and two of his crew, Max Vos and Jaiden Stevens will be racing aboard rival Farr 40s in the Tasmanian and Australian champions in Hobart starting on Friday week, 14 February. Last year’s Hardy Cup winner, David Chapman will also be racing, as tactician aboard the crack Tasmanian contender Voodoo Chile.
Then it’s off to the USA for Reece, taking up the role of Director of the Chicago Match Racing Centre through to the end of the year.
It will be no slowdown for the other member of the winning Hardy Cup crew, with Milly Bennett moving up to the role of helmsperson in a New Zealand regatta.