IN the tightest finals series for a number of years, Haileybury eventually overcame 2008 champions St Leonard's College at the weekend to win the 2009 Victorian Schools Team Racing Championships – part of the 2009 Victoria Harbour Schools Sailing Series at Docklands.
Haileybury and St Leonard's were the winners of the two earlier Selection Events and went into the finals as favorites. After the conclusion of the Swiss rounds system at midday on Sunday, the competition entered a knock-out phase with the four highest placed qualifiers after the Swiss rounds progressing to a sail-off in a best-of-three final for 1st and 2nd, and 3rd and 4th.
The results at the end of the Swiss rounds showed Haileybury on top with 9 wins from 10 races, St Leonard's second with 7 from 10, whilst St Bede's and Woodleigh shared third with 6 wins each. No competing school won less than 4 races – very close by historical standards, signs of the overall improvement in schools team racing in Victoria.
In the 3rd and 4th place sail-off, St Bedes won easily dispensing with Woodleigh in two straight races – reversing the result between the same two schools in the same sail-off in 2008.
In the 1st and 2nd place sail-off St Leonard's dominated race 1 from the start and held on easily to win with a 1, 2 & 6. In race 2 Haileybury managed to sail one of the St Leonard's boats the wrong side of the start boat, and never looked back gaining a 1, 2 & 4. At one heat apiece it was a tense final race with a crucial penalty going against a St Leonard's boat on the first beat being the decider – that boat never managed to catch up leaving too much gap and too little time for her team mates to defended their covered pairs after Haileybury surprisingly sailed through the finish line in 1. Haileybury recorded a 1, 3, & 5 to win overall.
The final four teams were littered with individually talented junior and youth sailors – including a large number of current state and Australian class and youth champions from Minnows, Sabots, Optimists, Laser 4.7, 420 and 29er.
Haileybury and St Leonard's College have now been invited to compete in the Australian championships in Queensland in July.
The schools sailing series was proudly sponsored by Lend Lease's Victoria Harbour project and the City of Melbourne.
Ellie Schwab, Project Director of Lend Lease Victoria Harbour, said "It is great to see people enjoying Victoria Harbour and the School Sailing Series. We welcome the series return in 2010."
Thanks also to Docklands Yacht Club and Yachting Victoria for their support of the series.
Ends: Jennifer Milligan
Yachting Victoria Media & PR
0448 884 993