The Mornington Yacht Club has redeemed itself after missing qualification for the Asia Pacific Final last season, clinching the SAILING Champions League qualifier event in Geelong last week in an epic finish and booking their spot for Newcastle in March.
The team, skippered by youngster James Jackson along with crew Jack Eickmeyer, Lily Richardson and Matilda Richardson, went into the finals series on top after dominating the qualifying round, meaning they only had to win one race to clinch the event, while the other teams needed two.
They came up against strong teams from Middle Harbour Yacht Club, Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron and Royal Geelong Yacht Club.
Mornington started the finals series off well, but slipped to second in the opening race to the talented Middle Harbour Yacht Club team from Sydney, skippered by Zoe Dransfield, putting each team on match point.
In the second finals race, Mornington’s spinnaker halyard came undone as they were wrestling for the lead with the Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron – who went on to win the race.
The problem was quickly fixed, however the racing was made more interesting when the fourth team in the finals series, hometown heroes from the Royal Geelong Yacht Club skippered by Matt Mahoney, pulled off a great start and a neat right-hand shift, holding onto the lead until the end and taking a great win.
This set up an epic last race where the winner would take the out the event win, and Mornington managed to show their class and pull off a gutsy first place in challenging conditions.
“It was all on, there was definitely high stress but we kind of… stuck to the strategy I felt and implemented what we were trying to do so we were really happy, it was an awesome feeling, and great team effort,” skipper James Jackson said.
“We’d love to go to Newcastle, just got to get some support from different stakeholders, but we’ll take that on and see how we go, we’d be really keen though to bring the team over there and go and see how we can go against the rest of Australia and Southern Hemisphere.”
A total of eight teams participated in the qualifying event as part of the iconic Festival of Sails regatta, which sets up an exciting Asia Pacific Final in Newcastle in March.
For more information about the Sailing Champions League – Asia Pacific, head to http://www.sailing-championsleague.asia
To check out the photos and video content from the event, head to the Sailing Champions League – Asia Pacific Facebook Page.