(Victoria, Australia)- Two days of hard competitive racing saw Dave Suda sailing ‘Pacemaker’ regain the Vic States crown – just. Not his closest winning margin (that goes to a previous tussle with yours truly, winning on a countback in the last race), but by one point from Stephen Girdis sailing Convicts Revenge from Sydney. The most important point to take out of all this for the rest of the fleet was the lack of individual dominance that has been seen in the class over the last few years. Dave won with a score of 25 points, rather than the single digit scores we have seen sometimes recently. Put that down to the shifty conditions or to the growing depth in talent of the top half of the fleet. You choose, but congratulations go to Dave and his crew.
Previous winners Ben Lamb and Arthur Crothers didn’t defend, Ben is in the wilds of NT or FNQ (gone a roving for work … nobody knows) Sean Kirkjian was another missing face from interstate amongst many missing out on a great regatta this year. But with 19 local boats (including two interstate crews) and another two boats from interstate, the 21 boat fleet fought it out over 4 races on Saturday and 3 on Sunday.
Third was taken out by Adam Evans in SDM and it seemed this was a popular placing as the next 4 boats all came very close to coming third, with only 6 points separating 3rd from 7th and with a number of stories of ‘if onlys’ and ‘might have beens’.
Doug Watson from SA will be thinking if only he hadn’t gone deep to the left going downhill on Sunday when the wind came from the right he would have been third. Ron Thomson giving an awesome display of ability in the old green boat will be thinking how close he came to winning a new kite in the middle of the field when his OCS was reinstated back to a first, but if he hadn’t had the uncharacteristic 11th on Saturday he would have been 3rd. The girls on Hyperactive with their new ‘import’ calling the shots would be thinking that a couple of double digit placings on Sunday morning took them out of 3rd and then there is Jet going hard left to engage the forecast change when running 3rd found the breeze went the other way, losing those 6 points made all the difference.
Brendan Lee sailing ‘By the Lee’ finishing a bit further back could have been 3rd too – if only he hadn’t had the DSQ after communing with Doug MacGregor at the top mark. Doug didn’t sail after that either. If only !
Hard luck stories abound in racing, Hugo lost a rudder on the first day, the only one he had so that was catastrophic to his cause, Warren Campbell lost his kite pole around his foredeckies ear, meaning a new pole and hospital surgery for his bowman after an ambulance ride. Sam Haines and his crew all came down with gastro on Saturday night so MMJ did no work at all on Sunday – did they eat together ?
But really – was it that bad, well apart from the aching bones and sore muscles, the fleet went about it’s business in a pretty orderly way. A southeasterly on Saturday around the genoa /jib mark with many changing back and forth and a little lighter then windier from the north east on Sunday, but shifty, very shifty. It’s not often you see Dave Suda mixing it with some of the back markers and some of the back markers were pretty surprised to find themselves next to Dave !
And the Sunday was nearly Dave’s undoing, after ones and twos on Saturday and being required to wear the new ‘Club Pro T-shirt at Mike Lewenhagens great BBQ night (thanks again Mike) in the evening as he wielded the BBQ tongs and downed the sherbets, Dave put in a very ordinary day by his standards on the Sunday. With a 7,8,4 he only just scraped home ahead of Convicts Revenge. Can’t have the title going to NSW two years in a row !
As usual we had a cast of worker bees and volunteers doing the planning and organising to get us all on the water, thanks again to Sarah, Doug, Kirby and Jill, mainstays of the Vic Association, plus the committee and hangers on. Thanks once again to MonJon Security for their most appreciated and continuing support. Special mention to Sam Haines from UK sails for putting up a new kite to be won by the boat coming 11th out of 21 boats, This is to show his support for the middle of the pack, the unsung heroes of the bulk of our fleet, out there every day learning and moving up the pecking order. Of course it was won by Robin and Jim Townsend, two of the nicest people in the class …. from SA. Well Sam the plan was good and much appreciated. Sam has chartered ‘Make my Jay’ this season and is now buying the boat, pity he hasn’t got to sail it much and only got one day out of the states. Much more to come from Sam I think !
So the racing was tough, the course legs around a mile, longer than we do in club racing, but the learning curve for many is steep and rewarding. Many skippers telling me of their experiences and enjoyment, a tough but a good regatta by any standard. The highest placed new owner, Mark Foster sailing ‘Gridlock’ at 9th a very good effort, no major ups or downs, just a good consistent performance. Andy Hunting, one of our youth boat skippers at 10th with a best placed 3rd, Michael Lewenhagen a long time class stalwart, now in Vertigo has jumped up the placings to 13 and at times was right up near the pointy end. Best placed newcomer though was Bruce Alexander in ‘Melbourne Sailing’, the old ‘Dolly’ which he recently picked up for a song (and maybe some dance).
Bruce also took out the handicap win for the series ahead of John Neville in ‘Vice Versa’ (raffle winner as well) and Robin Townsend sailing in Good Company (well-- renamed from Excite Your Senses for the regatta)
Perhaps the most unusual thing to happen was a text message from a new French crew member to be sailing with Janette Symes in the middle of the night to indicate the potential success he was about to have with an Australian woman and the subsequent no show! Rotten luck Janette, I didn’t see it awarded, but that would be where you lost the Thommo Cup this year I guess!
The results this year mean the racing is wide open, Dave is nearly beatable (last seen recharging his confidence with a beer under the boat) and although the usual suspects are still near the pointy end the pattern is definitely changing. Victoria is the place to race J/24s at a club level at the moment in Australia with consistent racing all year and a strong ‘traveling’ group of owners as well. However, some of the best sailors still come from Sydney and I know Steve Girdis is taking the message home to the harbour city that the storm is coming from the South in the next two major regattas.
Now is the time to start thinking about going to the NSW States on Cup weekend at RPEYC and the Nationals at the same venue in early January and mixing it with our Sydney mates.
Finally, thanks go to all the owners, skippers and crews, their traveling companions and those left at home, without you this group of sailing loving people could not get together regularly and tell old stories while they make new ones. For more J/24 Victoria States Championship sailing information