It’s done! Another successful VS nationals, this edition hosted impeccably by the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Sailing Club (or Hawkesbury as it is often referred to). We have some new champions & some old champions but regardless of the results, I’m pretty confident all who attended had a great time. And will be better sailors for the experience.
Graeme Brown (VS legend who started sailing them back in the 60’s!) managed the racing perfectly. Ably assisted by another legend Brian, Ian & Daniel, Brownie made sure the racing was fair, setting good courses in the truest breeze in the area. Which was not an easy thing at times – laying buoys in 30m of water on a rock hard bottom with a tide rushing at over 4 knots with sometimes unsettled winds takes some doing. Much appreciated.
As to was the organisation & support of the Hawkesbury members with the non-racing side of the regatta. Greg, Fazie, Brian & a host of others ferried us to & from the club each day, ran the BBQ & generally made sure the regatta was as good as it gets. As did the canteen ladies – Pam, Nicole, Ann Marie, Nicky, Sally & Pip who ensured we were well fed & thirsts quenched. And worthy of special mention is Alex Stewart. Alex made the regatta happen at Hawkesbury, from the idea to host the titles, right through to organising a great presentation dinner. On behalf of the VS sailors I like to say a big thank you to you all.
So to the results. But before the final summary I’ll pick up where the last report finished, as the journey to the end may be of interest. With the lay day done everyone was rigged & ready to go for races 5 & 6 on Wednesday. Except on this scorcher of a day there was no wind. With AP flying ashore, Brownie & his team headed out searching for wind. Occasionally the radio would crackle with a report of a few knots of breeze, only to be countered by another boat reporting a zephyr from the other direction. After a few hours of sweltering it was declared a non race day. So to complete the schedule three races were planned for the final two days.
Races 5, 6 & 7 on Thursday were sailed in a light NE’er way out down the river; the top mark was at Flint & Steel opposite Patonga. Steady conditions kept the fleet tight & made for great racing. Towards the front Firestorm, TBS & Meeks were often trading places, but their 3 way battle was often interrupted. Chook, Hayden & Riley have made disrupting the status quo a feature of this regatta and did so once again in race 5, finishing 2nd across the line.
Joey, Mitch & Kye was another crew who revelled in the conditions, leading the pack around the top mark in race 6 and sailing a great race to finally finish 4th across the line.
But the day belonged to Col, Adam & Janine, who sailed nearly perfect to chalk up two wins on TBS to lead the series by a point with a day to go. The handicap trophy fight was close too. Black Diamond held a 2 point margin from Raptor, then a pack including Measurement Solutions, TBS & Firestorm was just another point adrift.
After a day of suffering for the heavier crews such as Incognito, Purple Haze & Firestorm, the prediction of a big NE’er for the final day brought some hope. The breeze didn’t quite meet expectations & would have been lucky to get to 15 knots, but with a big ebb tide pushing the boats into it, the racing on Friday was both exciting and decisive.
The first incident occurred when Kye on Raptor suffered an injury to his leg, forcing the boys to DNF race 8 & DNS races 9 & 10. A sad end to their regatta but Joey, Mitch & Kye have learnt a lot & will be much better sailors for the experience. Once again Black Diamond were snapping at the tucks of the leaders, as too was Incognito, who finished less than 4 minutes behind Firestorm & easily won the race 8 on handicap.
With the tide still strong & everyone becoming a bit racy, the start of race 9 was another key moment. Four boats; TBS, Black Diamond, Meeks & Incognito were all over before the starting flag dropped however only two returned, and Meeks & Incognito were excluded OCS. That effectively ended the run Incognito was making at the handicap title, which was a shame as Fazie, Greg & Chris again sailed well & easily won the race 10 on handicap. With plenty of potential left in their new boat the boys will continue their move closer to the front of the fleet. Taking advantage of others mistakes, Purple Haze continued their roller coaster series, this time with a high 4th across the line & an easy handicap victory.
Points were tied for the scratch title going into the final race and the tide was easing but the breeze was still in the Firestorm range, enabling John, Dale & Lindsay to take the race win & retain the trophy. The veterans showed a few chinks in their armour at times but given the right conditions they are still competitive.
Meeks finally had a trouble free run in race 10 & kept within striking distance to finish 2nd across the line & 3rd overall. Mick, Robbie & Mark are still learning the new square topper & didn’t have the regatta many expected but were always at the front of the fleet.
Showing that preparation, training & boat development is worth the effort Col, Adam & Janine on Troy Botting Shipwright really took the fight to Firestorm, which made for a great contest for the title. And as noted above it couldn’t have been a closer; TBS easily finishing 2nd overall.
Again at near the front of the fleet, Black Diamond were 4th across the line, finished the series 4th on scratch and, with several outstanding results & no poor ones Bob, Hayden & Riley easily won the handicap trophy. The boys have been denied trophies a few times in the past on countback, so it was nice to see them win so convincingly. With a 2nd & a couple of 3rds across the line there is no denying their performance.
If not for a few DNFs (and swims) Purple Haze would have featured higher in the results, however when they were on their game & conditions suited Alex, Andrew & Rob were well in the mix. And don’t forget they easily won the Sid Peare Invitation Trophy.
It was a similar story for newcomers Jock, Nicky & Peter on Measurement Solutions. With a light crew (and on a couple of days with a crew that hadn’t swung on a trapeze before) they sailed admirably well and scored some good results, winning a couple of races on handicap. I’ve heard they have given the other Hawkesbury VS’s a good run for their money at times. From what I’ve seen that is no surprise & after these nationals I think it will occur more frequently.
1st Firestorm (J Hodda, D Jacobson, L Auston) 10 pts; 2nd Troy Botting Shipwright (C Gillespie, A Kelly, J Turton) 13 pts; 3rd Meeks Real Estate (M Turton, R Turton, M Nugent) 21 points; 4th Black Diamond (B Baker, H Baker, R Pike/A Birkefield) 28 pts; 5th Raptor ( J Ferguson, M Blake, K Donaldson) 44pts; 6th Incognito (A Fahey, G Lowe, C Wyatt) 46pts; 7th Purple Haze (A Stewart, A Eisner, R Townsend) 53 pts; 8th Measurement Solutions (J Davis, N Nygh, P Davis) 56 pts.
1st Black Diamond 21 pts; 2nd Firestorm 25 pts; 3rd Meeks Real Estate 30 pts; 4th Troy Botting Shipwright 31 pts; 5th Incognito 34 pts; 6th Measurement Solutions 34 pts; 7th Raptor 36 pts; 8th Purple Haze 41 pts;
For the 72nd time, the Australian Vee Ess National Championships are underway. We last contested the nationals here in 2006/2007 so the decade anniversary seems just right. Hawkesbury is a long time home of VS sailors, & the home club of legends Graeme Brown & Brian Gleeson. It’s good to be back….
With 4 races completed there is no clear indication on who the winners & also rans may be. And with some fickle weather predicted for the remainder of the series I’m sure all races will be interesting. And I’m pleased to report “so far so good” for all boats. Here is a bit of boat by boat summary to date:
2230 Raptor may be the oldest registered boat in the regatta but that is more than offset by the crew age - Joey, Mitch & Kye are all in their teens! First timers to Hawkesbury the boys seem to be enjoying the experience, camping on the beach & meeting some of the wildlife (just ask them). On the water they are rapidly learning about sailing in a tide (and how the boat feels different to still water). Mid fleet on scratch, they haven’t had an outstanding race yet, but I reckon it is not far off. Certainly eager on the start line!
2231 Measurement Solutions. First big regatta for newcomers Jock, Peter & Nicola, but they have had some outstanding races. Still learning, they have had a couple of DNFs in races 1 & 2, but bounced back in race 3 to finish right on the tail of the fleet & take an easy handicap victory. To prove it was no fluke in race 4 they did similar, actually beating Purple Haze (who was carrying a breakage) and claiming 2nd on handicap. If we get softer breezes they will be well in the mix.
2232 Purple Haze. The performance of this boat was described to me as like a roller coaster. Alex, Andrew & Rob do have some highs & lows. After smashing us in the Invitation race, they backed it up in race 1 and finished 5th across the line, and once again easily won on handicap. Then the dip. Broken trapeze lines, shackles holding trapeze lines & getting caught in a hole cost them in the next 3 races. Unlike Measurement Sols, they want it to blow.
2234 Meeks Real Estate hasn’t really hit top gear yet but is certainly still well in with a winning chance. Mick, Robbie & Mark pulled a new square top mainsail up the mast for the first time at the regatta & are still learning the nuances behind these beasts. They have lead every race but the results just haven’t gone their way. The new sail is not slow so I wouldn’t be surprised when they take a gun or two (or more).
2235 Black Diamond are always quite achievers who just keep tinkering with the boat & getting better. If you do want to see a well fitted & rigged boat, check it out! The crew, in comparison, look nowhere near as good, but Bob, Hayden & Riley / Adam are sailing very well and have been pushing the ‘big 3’ in every race, and have already claimed one scalp in race three. So keen are these guys to race every day this crew starts most races twice!
2236 Troy Botting Shipwright. Col, Adam & Janine may have started the regatta with a low point (hole in the sail) but have been on an upward trajectory since. Took advantage of a Firestorm mistake to win race 2, then just outsailed everyone to comfortably win race 3. With good results in the other races they sit top of the ladder & will be hard to stop, especially if the conditions become less than consistent.
2241 Incognito. Don’t recognise this boat? Then it is aptly named. Andy, Greg & Chris only got the boat just before this series so it has been a mad rush to get it set up. (for those that don’t know it was D Witt’s boat that broke just about everything, so it had a lot of pieces that needed co-ordinating. The boys are starting to get it together & are moving up through the fleet. Best race was their last where they easily won on handicap.
2242 Firestorm. Signs of aging are starting to show on this crew. Still better looking than the Black Diamond crew John, Dale & Lindsay have been making a few mistakes. Have chalked up two wins but were in position to score more. But that’s a good thing because it demonstrates the quality of the fleet is high. If you make a mistake you shouldn’t win.
And as outlined above TBS, Firestorm & Meeks have a few boats ready to smash the ‘big 3’ in this regatta. May only have a small entry for this regatta but they are good. Just like the past 71…