Dean Barker at the first mark
Report by Rober Griffits:
Australian A class Racing.
With the onset of Autumn in the southern hemisphere, the sailing season is moving onwards towards a close in mid to late April. However for the A class Catamarans, there is still a hectic regatta circuit underway, with the Victorian, New South Wales ,and Queensland State Titles organised in quick succession.
The Victorian State Titles have just concluded at the McCrae Yacht Club on the Mornington Penisula ,and the New South Wales Titles are planned for next weekend, at Kurnell, just south of Sydney. The Queensland Titles will follow on Brisbane's Moreton Bay on the Easter long weekend.
The Victorian event attracted 41 boats, and took on an Interdominion flavour with 5 New Zealand boats competing. Team New Zealand coach, Glenn Ashby arranged for 5 of his America's Cup sailing team pupils, including his skipper Dean Barker, to make the trip across the Tasman Sea.
The wind gods were not particularly kind on the first two days. There was little in the way of wind on the first scheduled day of racing and hence nothing in the manner of racing.
Day two dawned again with not much wind ,but eventually a light north easter prevailed to allow one race to be completed. In this race,the better wind was found along the eastern shore and provided power to tackle an adverse 2 knot current. The usual suspect, Glenn Ashby won, with Dean Barker taking out second, and Dave Brewer third. An anticipated south westerly front arrived a little later in the day, but at 30 knots plus, it proved too strong to allow any racing.
Day 3 was the decisive day. The Race committee planned to run 4 races. The boats left the shore in very light winds prior to 0900 and then drifted until a race was at 1000. The race started with the breeze offshore from the south East at around 6 to 10 knotes but very shifty. Following this race, the committee shortened the race legs and managed to complete all 4 races hence create a series. The wind increased steadily over the morning to around 15 knots by the end of the day.
Glenn Ashby won all but the last race, in which he finished 5th, He demonstrated great ability to master the shifty conditions, and seems to be able to dial up great boatspeed regardless of the wind strength.
Dave Brewer sailing a Geltek Flyer 2, sailed consistent races and recorded 3,5,3,5,2, to place second overall. David was the only competitor in the top 5 not on a DNA. Team New Zealand Skipper Dean Barker finished 3rd overall after a 2nd in the first race, and a win in the last race.
The other top 10 finishers (in order) were Steve Brayshaw (DNA), Graeme Parker (DNA), Scott Anderson (Geltek Flyer 2), Chris Cairns (Tool), Dave McKenzie (Bush Object), Brad Collett (DNA), and Adam Beashel (DNA).
The McCrae Yacht club are to be congratulated for hosting a successful regatta in very trying conditions.
The racing focus moves now to New South Wales. A different playing field , some different faces in the competion, and hopefully some consistency in the winds. The forecast is promising at this early stage, with projected 10 to 12 knot easterly breeze on the Saturday, and afternoon north easterly winds increasing to 18 knots on the Sunday.
Unfortunately, Glenn Ashby and his band of Team New Zealand sailors, are back to the "Land of the Long White Cloud" and will not be in attendence. The regatta favorite will be Steve Brewin, the current World number two. Kurnell is Steve Brewin's home turf, and he will be a strong opponent. He was unable to sail in the Victorian States due to illness, but by next weekend he should be fighting fit.
Bob Griffits/Julian Jenkins/Ian Johnson.