Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa Challenge, and America One. Those are the past and present America's Cup teams represented at this years New Zealand Match Racing Nationals in Auckland. The fleet of 14, which also included World Tour card holders, was the strongest seen in a number of years - but someone obviously forgot to tell the boys from Full Metal Jacket Racing.
At just 23-years-old, skipper William Tiller and his crew of Harry Thurston, Shaun Mason and Bradley Farrand, beat some of the top match racers in the world to claim victory in the regatta.
Full Metal Jacket Racing cruised through the round robin stage, continuing their form which has seen them claim eight regatta wins this year, losing just one race from 13 to ex-America One helmsman Gavin Brady.
As they progressed through to the quarter-final round, they picked Scott Dickson, who they put away 2-0 to move on to the semis. The remaining teams to qualify for the semi-finals were Gavin Brady, Laurie Jury (currently ranked sixth in the world), and Francesco Bruni of Luna Rossa Challenge.
FMJ picked Jury and saw him off 3-0 to progress to the final against Gavin Brady, who had beaten Bruni 3-2 in the other semi final. In an epic five match battle, FMJ came out victorious. The title came down to the wire, with nothing decided until the final downwind of the last race, with penalties flying left and right, and the boats finishing within seconds of each other.
"How good's that?" said trimmer Harry Thurston, "It's a great result for the boys against a really tough fleet. We have had a pretty good year this year, and we were really happy to be able to carry on the form we have shown overseas."
With their international match racing calendar over for the season, Full Metal Jacket now turn their focus to attempting to gain entry to the Youth America's Cup to be sailed in San Francisco in September 2013. The team will be honing their multihull skills by sailing Nacra 18s before the trails commence in February.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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