Alternating between Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club and Royal Perth Yacht Club, the annual Warren Jones International Youth Regatta is a match racing event, contested in identical Foundation 36 yachts.
The 2016 event was raced at RFBYC from Monday 01 to Friday 05 February and the Peppermint Grove Club provided a glorious natural vantage point for the close boat on boat racing. Ten teams, under the age of 25, are selected to compete and race the matched yachts one on one in a knockout series over the five days. Spectators enjoyed the view from the Clubhouse and aboard boats anchored around the course area in Freshwater Bay.
There were five local skippers from Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club all with great sailing credentials. Will Boulden, fresh from match racing events on the east coast where his team placed well. Mark Spearman, a top skipper in his single handed Laser class and Ethan Prieto-Low who at only 16 was the youngest skipper to contest the event so far. The other two RFBYC skippers are from a well-known yachting family. Lachy Gilmour has made an impressive entry in to the match racing scene. In July 2015 his team made their international debut in the Governor’s Cup in the USA making the finals in what is referred to as the Americas Cup for youth sailors. His older brother Sam, at 22 years old contested his 5th Warren Jones Regatta with a previous best place of second overall. His team, Neptune Racing have had an exceptional year and went in to this event ranked number 5 in world match racing.
These local sailors raced seasoned teams from Denmark, New Zealand, two teams from Sydney and their rivals from up the river, Matt Jerwood and his Redline Racing team.
It was a tough event, Matt Jerwood held the lead for the first three days. The bay provided a good mix of weather conditions and the racing was extremely close at times. In the end, Sam Gilmour and his Neptune Racing team took the top spot. They raced calmly but fought hard, they got to the top of the leader board at the end of the round robin series. In the final series they raced Chris Steele’s team from New Zealand in a hard fought battle where Chris took a win in the third race making the score 2-1 in Sam’s favour. The best of five series played out well for Sam Gilmour’s team when Chris Steele made an error on the run to the finish line and received an immediate penalty turn. Neptune Racing sailed on to the finish taking the series 3-1 in the final and winning overall.
These events provide exciting opportunities for youth sailors, most of the crew members are in their teenage years. The youngest RFBYC competitor was only 12 and thoroughly enjoyed the chance to race with the older sailors and learn a huge amount, this will keep him keen on his sport and help him develop his own sailing.