Every second counts! That’s what Brian was telling Tim & Daniel whilst trying to encourage them towards the finish. And how true Brian’s words were. The Gleeson boys sailed Under Pressure 2 well on the final day to win the National Handicap title, possibly unaware that in race 9 a position was decided by only one second and this place would have changed the results significantly. But as with any regatta series there are plenty of “if only’s”. Hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves & remembers the highlights. I’m pretty sure all boats had at least one or two…
As they did so last year, Gosford Sailing Club were the perfect regatta hosts. Peter, Kevin, Warren, Paul & co looked after our every need for the entire regatta. The courses were spot on for length and true to the breeze (as much as it would allow). And the after race BBQ was definitely a hit for hungry sailors. I’d recommend the club to any class looking for a regatta venue. The race management was also exceptional. Col Chidgey was the RO and did a superb job. The VS & MG fleets were co-ordinated such that time on the water was predominantly spent racing, rather than waiting for the other class. And courses were set and starts timed so that we were not fouling each other. Made for a very pleasurable series. Thanks must also go to the MG fleet. The sailors gave us room on the water & arranged a great presentation night & dinner. Thanks Gav. As race secretary, I’d like to acknowledge the assistance of many in making this a great championship series. Apart from the GSC crew, the VS executive (and partners) all combine to ensure the series runs smoothly. Thanks all. It is really much appreciated.
Now for the sailing… Even though the scratch series winner had been decided, racing on the final day was as hotly contested as on the first. The predicted black NE’er did not blow, instead a patchy light to moderate breeze. In the first race Firestorm, Range, TBS, SFC, UP2 & Black Diamond were all trading positions for the first lap. On the long work Firestorm & Range slipped ahead. They continued a close battle all the way to the finish with tight covering by Firestorm allowing them to score the win. It was a similar fight for 3rd with SFC covering hard to beat TBS by just 5 seconds. Handicap positions were also extremely close. Check the scoring sheets!!
The last race of the day was similar to the first. Pretty well all of the fleet together around the windward mark for the first time. The long work allowed TBS, Range & Firestorm to open up a small margin to fight for the victory. After Firestorm overcooked the final run to the bottom marks, TBS had opened up a small lead for the work to the finish. But in a cruel blow the fickle breeze shifted right, allowing Firestorm & Range back into the game. When the boats came together Firestorm had a small lead from Range & TBS. Again close tacking & covering meant they finished in this order. Black Diamond and SFC were also having a similar battle, with 6 seconds separating them at the finish with UP2 not much further behind. Well sailed all.
|Overall results – Whilst the scoresheet may indicate otherwise, this was a close series.
John, Dale & Lindsay on the Firestorm sponsored boat used their experience to retain the scratch title. Working hard on upwind speed they generally managed to get in a position to open a lead up the first windward leg & control the race from there. The oldest crew in the fleet have sailed continuously together for over a decade and know their roles well; Dale looks after tactics; Lindsay is the navigator whilst John just makes it go fast. Col, Adam & Troy on Troy Botting Shipwright put in a great performance to claim 2nd. A couple of breakages cost them dearly when for the rest of the series they sailed flawlessly. As usual their crew work was exceptional. Scoring 3rd in a count back were Mick, Robbie & Mark on Range. Robbie had never sailed a skiff before, yet handled the sheethand role with ease, especially in some very challenging conditions. They scored a race win early in the series but a breakage blunted their series. In 4th SFC Computers could also be pleased with their effort. Consistently fighting at the front end of the fleet they had some great races. Tim, Hugh & Tom have developed crew work that is the envy of the fleet; as they hone their race craft they will be even harder to beat. Bob, Hayden & Ben on Black Diamond had some real highs & lows in the series and ended 5th. Having finished a rebuild just in time for the regatta a broken mast on the first day meant even more carboning. This cut into their tuning time but they still managed some good races, with 2nd & 3rd places being real highlights. Brian, Tim & Daniel on Under Pressure 2 finished 6th overall but also had a few good races, a 3rd being a highlight. Apart from a breakage that caused a DNF, they sailed consistently well and deserved their handicap victory. Congratulations boys!!
Michael, Chris & Beano on Battleship ended 7th but will be better for the series. Michael was seen daily passing on his experience as the boys tuned the boat to their liking. They only missed the handicap title by a couple of points so not a bad result in the end. Rounding out the fleet in 8th was Redfish café. Alex, Peter & Andrew were sailing together for the first time together and on a new boat for the first time too. A couple of breakages cost them at times but they also had a few good races, the highlight being winning the Sid Peare trophy. Well done.
1st Firestorm (J Hodda, D Jacobson, L Auston) 8 pts; 2nd Troy Botting Shipwright (C Gillespie, A Kelly, T Botting) 18 pts; 3rd Range (M Turton, R Turton, M Nugent) 25 pts; 4th SFC Computers (T Dodds, H Dodds, T Wood) 25 pts; 5th Zephyr (B Baker, H Baker, B Ferguson) 35 pts; 6th Under Pressure 2 (B Gleeson, T Gleeson, D Gleeson) 39 pts; 7th Battleship (M Northam, A Fahey, C Wyatt) 51 pts; 8th Redfish café (A Stewart, P Davies, A Eisner) 60 pts.
1st Under Pressure 2 27 pts; 2nd Black Diamond 28 pts; 3rd Battleship 29 pts; 4th SFC Computers 30 pts; Firestorm 30 pts; 6th Red Fish Café 33 pts; 7th Troy Botting Shipwright 33 pts; 8th Runaway 34 pts.
We’ve made it. With six races completed the 70th Vee Ess Australian Championships will have a result. There are few classes that can boast 70 years worth of champions on a trophy. To celebrate the association is holding a Vee Ess sailors (& supporters) reunion at Vaucluse YC on Saturday 7th March 2015. More details to come but we’d love to catch up with Vee Ess sailors of all years. Bring along any old memorabilia & hopefully catch up with old friends. This seasons state title series will be sailed at VYC on the 7th & 8th so come early (or stay late!) & watch some of the current fleet enjoy sailing this great boat.
So to day 3 of the 70th nationals. A bit more weight in the breeze allowed Firestorm to use the bit more weight in their crew to good advantage and score two race wins. TBS has a bit less weight but sailed well to keep the pressure on and score two 2nds. Runaway has even less weight again but showed a well-sailed boat will still get good results. Despite a quick swim they managed two 3rds. SFC Computers loves a breeze & was again fast at the front of the fleet at times, but lost a place or two when caught out in holes or by wind shifts. Regardless they still scored two 4ths. Black Diamond & Under Pressure 2 both sailed well but didn’t get the results of yesterday. They each scored a 5th & a 6th. Bob & crew are still trying to tune their rig; Brian admitted his boat & crew just didn’t click today. A quick swim freshened them up.
Battleship broke a jib pulley in the first race for a DNF but returned for the second race to finish 7th. Michael, Beano & Chris are still tuning their rig so expect them to improve. As to is Red Fish Café, the stronger breeze suiting Alex, Peter & Andrew so much that they easily won race 5 on handicap. Both the scratch & handicap series are far from decided; the handicap series is especially close. For example the gaps between finishers in race six were mostly less that 20 seconds with a couple of boats only separated by 2 and 6 seconds. That’s less than a bad tack or gybe. This series will go down to the wire…
Unfortunately a long day of racing results in a short race day report. Despite fickle conditions today the Race Officer and his support did a great job and not only managed to get our scheduled races completed but we also picked up our postponed heat. I don’t think everyone was back ashore before 6pm so it was a big day. Thanks to all for your perseverance.
Everyone’s a winner..
The first heat today was very similar to yesterdays – which way to go? With two breeze lines blowing down the bay some boats went south, some went north. One minute you had a big lead; next you were way back in the pack. It was really tough to pick where to go. But some got it right more than others, in particular Mick, Robbie & Mark who jumped out of the pack with good speed, especially downwind, to chalk up an easy victory in Runaway. Tim, Hugh & Tom on SFC Computers could also feel satisfied, scoring an untroubled 2nd across the line. The other standout of this heat was Alex, Peter & Andrew on Red Fish Café, who showed that a bit of tuning works, and scored =3rd on handicap, despite the breeze strength less than they desire.
The second heat was also a bit of a gamble on which way to go. The NE breeze line was becoming more dominant but the SE line persisted. Again big gains & losses were to be made. My best performer in this heat (and for the day) was Black Diamond. Bob, Hayden & Ben rebuilt their mast overnight, missed the first race start (but finished well anyway) yet were first around the top mark in this heat. They held on to get 3rd scratch & easily claim the handicap victory. Well deserved. Troy Botting Shipwright could also smile; Col, Adam & Troy sailing well to get the gun at the finish. Similarly Battleship had a great race. Michael, Beano & Chris were leading at the bottom mark on the first lap & also scored a good handicap position.
The third race was in a more settled breeze out of the ENE. Firestorm & TBS had a good tussle out front throughout the race but I think Brian, Tim & Daniel on Under Pressure 2 could feel very satisfied with this race. Always up front, they rounded the windward mark for the final time in 2nd place. The gusts didn’t favour them down the final run but they still managed an easy 3rd across the line.
With two days racing completed the competition is well and truly anyone’s. Check out the score pages. Racing continues until Friday.
Well we made it. This is the 70th time the Vee Ess Commonwealth/Australian championships have been contested. To all those sailors are taking part now or to those who have done so in championships prior, take a bow. There are few classes that will reach this milestone and even fewer that will do so with such a good boat! More on this achievement and how we plan to celebrate it in future newsletters. But as for today’s racing…
Which way to go?
I think this summarises the feeling of most crews today. It was a very challenging day, working out where the breeze might blow from next. But before the racing it was nice to remake old acquaintances as the boats rolled into the rigging area. In the end eight boats rigged today, many of these crews were returning VS’ers from previous years, such as Michael, Mick, Mark, Chris & Beano to name a few. And of course the old stalwarts Tim, Brian & Chook were still there. Unfortunately there were three boats expected that didn’t show, but hopefully we’ll see them soon.
So to the racing. With an early morning southerly fading all boats got away to a clean start on a good fair line. Michael, Beano & Chris on Battleship & John, Dale & Lindsay on Firestorm got the first shifts & jumped to a small lead but the shifts were still coming - where to go? Left into the bay or right into the gap? Battleship went left & paid the price whilst Firestorm played the middle & lead around the top mark from Tim, Tom & Hugh on SFC Computers. Whilst most of the fleet headed east down the first run, Firestorm & TBS went west. This paid off, as they were 1 and 2 around the bottom marks by a good margin from SFC and a fast running Runaway a little further back. But Tim always sails hard & chanced his arm (or knew what was coming) & headed hard east up the 2nd work. This paid off big time as they passed TBS and rounded the top mark a close 2nd behind Firestorm. The positions remained unchanged down the run but the next work was again a gamble. Going left was favoured but there were still southerly gusts that changed the game. For example Firestorm picked one up near the top mark that took their lead from a few boat lengths to over a minute at the finish!
SFC sailed very well today to finish 2nd & easily claim the handicap victory. Col, Adam & Troy on TBS finished 3rd, benefitting when Mick, Robbie & Mark on Runaway took a quick swim on the run to the finish. Battleship ended 5th, claiming the Hawkesbury bragging rights from Brian, Tim & Daniel on Under Pressure 2. Alex, Peter & Andrew on Red Fish Café were a little further back but this wasn’t a bad starting point - first time on the boat & with a crew weight more suited to a gale.
Unfortunately there was one casualty, Bob, Hayden & Ben on Black Diamond. These boys have been working tirelessly throughout the off-season revamping the old 2235. With a new, high modulus carbon mast the last thing expected today was a mast failure. Yep. Broken at the hounds. But the boys were last seen brushing themselves off & loading the mast onto the car for repairs so hopefully they’ll be back for day 2 with some better luck.
So that was race 1. What about race 2? Whilst the breeze was light it was sufficient, but it was random in its direction. With the thought of “which way to go?” in the minds of the committee the decision was made to abandon & come back again another day. Whilst a few might have disagreed with this decision, I’m sure this would have occurred in the past 69 years & I hope it happens again within another 69 years of Vee Ess nationals!!! (even better if I can see most of them).
Racing continues until Friday so come on down to Gosford, say g’day & see some great racing.
Wow. After a relatively slow start to the season it seems everybody is coming out of hibernation for the Gosford nationals. Talking to a few of the old VS hands today it seems like we will have around 11 entries for the series, which starts next week. And, while some may scoff that 11 boats is still not a big fleet, I’ve looked at the entries & reckon all boats have a chance, depending on the conditions and/or what the criteria to win is. Confused? Let me explain…. If the series is really light, Under Pressure 2 is a good bet. Brian, Tim & Daniel have won heats before & are unstoppable when it is light. Also a good handicap bet. If the series is light to moderate I’m betting Mick, Robbie & Mark on Runaway will be a real threat. Mick & Mark are champion sailors & it won’t take much for Robbie to be considered the same. If the series is moderate Troy Botting Shipwright is hard to bet against. Col, Adam & Troy have the boat speed, experience, fitness, skill…. (Just don’t look back Col)
If the series is heavy, look out for Stowe Australia with champion Rod Carter at the helm. Rod won a few titles in the VSs then moved to 16’s where he is again very competitive. Stowe is fast, & with a fit 16 crew aboard this boat will love a breeze. If the series is really heavy Ragamuffin is a sure bet. Dave Witt is a legend & I’m sure will be wanting as much breeze as possible to test the boundaries of the VS…
If the series is decided on the unknown Chook has to be the clear winner. Bob & Hayden have been rebuilding 2235 PHW for a year, have sought rule changes to allow 18 footer style bows & have renamed the boat Black Diamond. I really don’t know what to expect…
If the series is decided on cool, SFC Computers is a shoe in. Hugh & Tom ooze cool (& Tim enjoys the overflow attention too). If the series is decided on fun Battleship is the boat to be on. With champion Mick Northam stepping aboard Chris & Beano are in for a super series.
If the series is favoured towards debutants Paul Boslem Building has it nailed. These guys are so new to the class I can’t even tell you their names. Welcome guys (don’t crowd me at the starts please). If the series is based on handicap results how could you bet against Alex & his crew. Not sure what boat they will show up with yet, but the reigning champs will get a good run with the handicapper (if they offer appropriate beverages of course). And finally, if the series is based on good looks, of course John, Dale & Lindsay on Firestorm will repeat their dominance & win again (they would also win if the series were awarded to the oldest crew but I try to forget that…) Of course I’m not a betting man so all of the above is purely fictional & no offence is intended. But it does sound like a good series is brewing. And it’s not too late to join the fun. Bring your boat to Gosford or contact Tim to arrange a loaner.
See you on the Brisbane Waters
With only one of three scheduled races completed, you may think you missed little if you didn’t get to Hawkesbury last weekend. Sorry to inform you but you actually missed a great weekend. I’m not clever enough to illustrate the full experience of the weekend in this report but let me give you a taste….
As our personal water taxi towed us around to the beach the first thing grab my attention was the number of juniors at the club on a Saturday morning. In the days of diminishing sailing numbers this was a great sight. If even only a few of these kids end up on a VS the class will survive. The day was hot but the water was cool and clear, so sitting on the beach under the shady trees catching up with VS mates was nearly perfect. With a hot, gusty wind blowing, six VS’s were amongst the fleet that sailed for the start. Unfortunately the wind went through a typical westerly sequence: a few minutes of 10 knots, followed by a few minutes of up to 30 knots. It led to some great rides as boats reached around waiting for a start, some even with spinnakers set. But unfortunately there were also many who also tasted the tide or broke gear, keeping the rescue boats busy and denying them the chance to set a course. As the VS fleet have done in the past, the ‘on water committee’ decided to call it quits for the day. What a great decision! With lightning & thunder starting to crackle as we hit the beach we knew a thunderstorm was near. Within minutes rain was blowing horizontal and a squall was blowing the tops off waves. I couldn’t see the moored boats in the bay, let alone any out sailing. A few boats had the ‘pleasure’ of being out there in the storm but as quickly as it came it passed and all boats made it safely ashore. Made for some good stories as we sat around later chatting & having some refreshments.
Graham, Mark & the Hawkesbury crew always look after us well & apply wise local knowledge to set us good courses for our races. But today was a real challenge for them. With forecasts of a building SE’er and the plan to sail three races today we hit the water early in a breeze fluctuating between SE & SW. This is not common at Hawkesbury so after waiting to see where it settled, the starter tried to set us a course across the front of the club. This looked good for a while but then the breeze swung SE. After a reset of the course we were preparing to start again when a NE’er kicked in. It was now later in the afternoon but as the breeze was settled at 10 – 15 knots all the way down the river and true in direction it was time to start. With the run in tide resulting in nice, flat water it also lead to the need to get out of it when sailing upwind. Firestorm was the pin boat & lead Troy Botting Shipwright across to the north. A good battle was also emerging not far behind, with Wobbygong, Battleship, Under Pressure Too & Measurement Solutions having a great race & trading tacks. Firestorm had opened up a small lead by the top mark and in conditions that suited were not headed to finish 1st. TBS slipped back a little down the second run but kept the leaders honest all race to finish 2nd. After a good final lap Brian, Tim & Daniel on Under Pressure Too won the battle of the local boats by finishing 3rd, just ahead of Battleship. Peter T was making a cameo appearance with Greg & Chris today but I’m sure Battleship will remain more than competitive when Andrew returns. Also with regular crew missing, Alex sailed Wobbygong well to finish just a little further back in 5th, a swim causing them to just lose touch with the others. A swim or two might also have slowed the Sheldon boys on Measurement Solutions but given the right conditions these boys will be a real threat to all boats in the fleet. Watching them twin stringing whilst we were floundering when the breeze was lighter before one of the postponed starts, I’m sure they too will have their day soon. They impressed me with possibly the best capsize save I have seen after a mistimed gybe. With the spinnaker flapping the top of the mast must have been less than a metre off the water for about a minute. But they didn’t give up & kept her up. Wished I’d had a camera…
Even though we were all enjoying the breeze & smooth waters, by the time the second start was due the coolness of the breeze was starting to bite (especially those in shorts & tee shirts only!!). Again another smart ‘on water committee’ decision was made to head for shore as by the time we unrigged, chatted, had a presentation & headed for home the evening was close.
So only one race was sailed, but for that race the course was perfect in length & direction. There were plenty of options, which made for a good sailing challenge. The breeze was set (no holes or wild oscillations) and with enough strength so that everyone was easing sheet but not breaking gear. TBS reported a top speed of 17 knots. In all it was a great day and completed a memorable weekend. I hope you are now thinking you should have made the effort to get to Hawkesbury. Too late for that this season but the Teralba regatta is coming up soon, as is the Gosford nationals. Check the calendar now.
Full results, including handicap places, will be posted soon.