Royal Southern Academy Match Cup Final battle for victory

Sam Pearson (1st) powers over Andy Shaw (2nd) at the inaugural Royal Southern Academy Match Cup
Natalie Gray
The Royal Southern Academy Match Cup Final marks the first Anniversary of the Royal Southern Academy and the conclusion of the current Match Race Series.

Veteran match-racer Sam Pearson from Poole, Dorset, who was lying in fourth place after the Round Robin, came from behind to win the inaugural Match Cup, racing in SB3s in challenging conditions on the Solent on 26/27 March.

Sam’s battle for victory, pitched against Andy Shaw the current World Student Match Race Champion, went to the final race with every one different and challenging. In the first light airs race, Andy had pulled well ahead when Sam found his own pressure and powered over Andy on the final shy reach to the finish. In the second race, Sam was ahead closing the leeward mark but, underestimating the tide, a double gybe slowed him down at the mark. Andy took his chance, sneaked inside and was off.

The third race pre-start had Sam pinning Andy OCS (on course side) until a minute before the start. Sam spun out and headed for the Committee boat. His smart gybe and reach up the start line had Andy looking distinctly short of boat speed coming off the line and Sam built on his lead all the way round. This was exciting stuff, and a terrific result for Sam who will be looking forward to a big bounce in his ISAF ranking.

Victorious Sam commented, 'Congratulations to the Royal Southern Race Team who did great work keeping everything going in the shifty conditions. Compared with other European countries, there’s a shortage of match racing in the UK. I really enjoyed the event and I hope the Club will do more.'

In the Petit Final, Ali Hall beat Rob Gullan 2 – 1 in another closely fought contest. Ali’s verdict: 'A great event. I’d like to see more of the same.'

Presenting the Bill Foulkes Aladdin’s Cave Trophy to Sam, Sandy Foulkes said of the late Bill Foulkes, founder of the Aladdin’s Cave chandleries: 'Bill was a great supporter of young people. In his younger days, he was a winner of the One Ton Cup. He would have been pleased to see you showing your skills match racing today.'

More match races are planned for later in the year and will be announced on the Academy website. The Series has witnessed top quality umpiring, and the Chief Umpire David Battye, said: 'This marks the end of a very successful and enjoyable first year for the Academy. Congratulations to the Club for building a platform for match racing excellence.' CRO Simon Hand commented, 'Over the 33 races in very shifty conditions, we saw standards had really improved. We’re ready for more.'

Final results:
1. Sam Pearson
2. Andy Shaw
3. Ali Hall
4. Rob Gullan
5. Ben Duncan (IRL)
6. David Tabb
7. Lars Huckstadt (GER)

Royal Southern Academy website