Thursday, January 25, 2018

Ottoway Clinches Australian J/24 Nationals!

J/24 Australian Nationals(Melbourne, New South Wales, Australia)- Congratulations to Hugo Ottaway and his crew, Paulina Mattila, Gareth Evans, James Tarode and Megan Aulich sailing BRUSCHETTA VI, the new Australian National J/24 Class Champions for 2018.  Here is a great play-by-play account of how it wall went down in the waters of Sandringham Bay off Melbourne, hosted by the Royal Sandringham YC.

DAY ONE- "Glam" Conditions
Racing got underway in “glam” conditions, sunshine and light southerlies. Race’s one and two were light and then in a building, but shifty breeze.  The fleet sailed another two races, making it four total for the day, with the last race sailed in a perfect 15 -16-knot breeze.

Dave West sailing Arthur Crothers’ KAOTIC jumped out of the box in race one for a win from local sailor Simon Grain in JET, with Jeanette Syme in WILDFIRE from the South Sydney Fleet taking out third.

Race two saw Sandringham’s “Mr J24” Hugo Ottaway in BRUSCHETTA VI take the gun from JET again, with Ron Thomson in KICKING third.

As the breeze built in the race, the placings started to change around. Local class President, John Neville, put in a solid performance to take the gun from Jordan Sunkel-Lozell and Kirsty Harris in HYPERACTIVE. Jordan was sailing the Sandringham J/24 Fleet Youth boat SIDETRACKED like a champ.

Race four, the race management team sensibly got ahead of the program with a questionable weather forecast for Saturday. The local J/24 Worlds aspirant Brendan Lee, sailing BY THE LEE, took the gun from Hugo and Steve Wright sailing TINTO, the latest addition to the Australian fleet from Germany.

So, the top five crews after day one were all basically tied!  Leading was Ottoway’s BRUSCHETTA VI with a 2-7-1-10 for 20 pts.  Behind on the tie-breaker was Wright’s TINTO with a 3-4-8-5 on 20 pts.  Then, third was a tie-break on 21 pts with Simon Grain’s JET with a 6-11-2-2 with Harris’ HYPERACITVE with a 9-3-5-4.  One point back in fifth was West’s KAOTIC with a 4-13-4-1 for 22 pts.

That’s what the results say, so what really happened??

JET looked great after the first two races, then faded. But, in a gentlemen’s agreement with John Neville, is one jug up!

Ottoway started badly with a 10th, but won the day, on a count back from Steve Wright– not exactly creaming the day but 1 point ahead of JET and HYPERACTIVE. And, KAOTIC with mixed performances is a further point back.

Looks like Simon likes the light, but Hugo likes the mid-breezes.

Back in the fleet, Chris Ravesi in SANGUINE had an altercation with newcomer Patricio Sepulveda in BAILE de LUNA. Jordan in SIDETRACKED busted a lower shroud when doing rather well near the top mark.

J/24s sailing off Melbourne, AustraliaDAY TWO- It's Never Like This!
Yes, It’s Melbourne and, as always, it is never like this!  But, friends, it is what it was!

The day’s weather was an even better re-run of Day One.  Warm sunny and with 7-12 knot southerly breezes and flat water, the stay at homers will be wishing they weren’t.

A little point to note from John Neville’s briefing – he/she who wins the first race of the day commits them and their crew to cooking the evening BBQ at the Ken King Centre.

Yesterday’s problems are all fixed, SIDETRACKED got new lower shrouds, SANGUINE had its bow fixed and BAILE De LUNA was replaced with SCRUMPY, thanks to our very generous Leigh MacLeod.

So it was in Race 5 today that Brendan Lee put his hand up to cook the BBQ with a good win from Steve Wright in TINTO and John Neville in VICE VERSA.

Race Six and Sandy’s ex-President, Newsletter Editor in Chief, resident Scotsman and all round keenest skipper, yelled ‘Och aye the noo’, freely translated this means ‘just now I won me first Nationals race’ and let me tell you folks if it wasn’t for being a Scotsman, the credit card would be out and the bartender shouted “free drinks” on Doug! Well done, Doug!

In a race of upsets, Jeanette Syme in WILDFIRE had a well-deserved second and Warren Campbell screamed into third. Wow!

An amazing thing so far is that no boat is a stand out, every boat in the top half of the fleet has had a shocker and with only one drop in this 12 race series, some of these are going to count. Consistency is the key.

Speaking of that. Brendan Lee has now had two wins and a few shockers– here is one of them, ouch!

But, it could be any one of us trying just a bit too hard. Brendan spent the race outside the course looking at this very same video immediately placed on the Vic J/24 FB site by the amazing Craig Wiley on the start boat. I’m told he looked at it over 20 times just to make sure. What I haven’t told you is that we are all under ‘U’ flag in this start. Bye Bye!

Race Seven and ‘Mr J24’ Hugo Ottaway sailed away from the fleet – and John Neville in second to lead around every mark, Dave West in KAOTIC took third in a long battle from Simon Grain in JET.

In the almost as important Thommo Cup, Jeanette is creaming Ron by 4 points. Jack Fullerton, Sandy’s ‘replaced with new’ man is finally putting it together with a solid 10th place – nice shirts too, Jack. Dave McKay from the South Sydney Fleet is back in 11th, but here and sailing, he tells me he left Sydney with just one crew and put the rest together on the drive down! Well done Dave! By the way, has he told you he was World Moth Champion and Australian Sailor of the Year in 1969– buy him two beers and he will tell you about it! We love you in the class Magoo!

So, you would think that Hugo would be looking pretty good at the end of Day Two. And, he is, but not quite as good as John Neville, sitting just one point above him on 23 points. Dave West is third on 25 points and Simon Grain is fourth on 29 points, clearly the results are close and with 5 races still to go, the result is far from settled.

Well how does it all look? Lets ask Brendan.

Back in the pack, the new members of our Sandy group are finding out what bigger one design fleet racing is all about. It’s hard racing, but it’s fun and everyone is thrilled you guys have joined us! Stick with it, we are better for your participation by far. Robin and Jim Townsend from SA have made the trip over and are, as ever, ardent supporters of the class and the regatta circuit. Next year is your turn and we’ll be there.

J/24 sailing off AustraliaDAY 3- Shifty, Hot & Nuking!
Day three turned most things right around. Gone is the light to medium Southerly, in is the 42 C degree (HOT!) and a 20–25 knot Northerly. Jibs for everyone and for the first time in years, code flag  – life jackets today!

Initially felt with some foreboding by some, the hot Northerly belted the fleet all day. But, it wasn’t the boat and crew crusher some expected.

Kirsty Harris sailing HYPERACTIVE cleaned up the first two races.  They had a very, very close win from Simon Grain in JET and Brendan Lee in BY THE LEE in the first race.  Then, they had a convincing win in the second from Hugo Ottaway in BRUSCHETTA VI and Ron Thomson in KICKING.

A little further back, places 5-8 finished in line abreast with a spread of only 5 seconds (on the score sheet – I would have thought it was less than that). It was another great example of the close racing the class is providing. Thanks Craig!

Race Ten was taken out in grand and exciting style by class National President, Ron Thomson, skippering KICKING.

Filling the minor placings in Race Ten were Brendan Lee and Simon Grain.

In any windy day, there are things that just happen. Three people that I know of went into the water, but hung on to be pulled back on board. Steve Wright in TINTO had his bowman and kite pole go over– the pole didn’t come back!

Starting in the strong winds, where you might expect things to get a bit more ragged, it was quite the opposite for most competitors (not all) with no U flag today.

So, what happened on the result sheet? Well, quite a few changes. Sadly for John Neville, yesterday’s regatta leader, a less than a glam day, resulting in a fall from first to third behind new leader Hugo Ottaway and in second place Simon Grain. Still wide open, the first 6 places cover only 10 points and tomorrow sees some serious work still to be done for the title of National Champion 2018.

By the way, what a fantastic job the whole race management team is doing. The racing has been handled brilliantly with fair start lines and a mix of course length and structure. The protest committee has been busy with a few meetings over the last few days. From us to you– well done!! Thanks Guys and Girls of the Sandy team!!

Australian J/24 champsDAY FOUR- Battle of the Century!
Day four was a battle for first between Hugo and Simon right to the very end, with both finishing the last race in the same order as they finished the regatta.

HYPERACTIVE and VICE VERSA both finished on 58 points for fourth and fifth, respectively, an indication of the close racing throughout the regatta.

The last day started slowly with a 12-15 knot southerly, cloudy skies and much cooler temperatures (to everyone’s relief after the very draining 42 degree Saturday). With a shifty wind, a couple of generals and an exemplary attitude from the race committee, after one and a half hours and seven start sequences we finally got away. Jordan, skippering the Sandy Youth boat SIDETRACKED, had an absolute blinder of a race, finishing out front only to suffer the pain of finding he was OCS on a black flag race.

Australian J/24 winnersSteve Wright in TINTO took the gun, with JET just pipping BRUSCHETTA VI right on the line. Race 12 had BRUSCHETTA VI taking out the race from JET and HYPERACTIVE.

The Performance Handicap was won by Robin Townsend in WITCHES THIMBLE from Jack Fullerton in TWO DOGS and Ron Thomson in KICKING.

In the very popular Thommo Cup, once again Ron took the honours from Jeanette 7 – 5. Although, he tells me he got a real scare in the middle of the regatta when it was 4 all!

There are stories too many to mention from the fleet. The standard of racing is awesome, it doesn’t matter where in the fleet, from front to back the competition is full on. And everyone is loving it.

Our Sandy Race Management Team did a fantastic job in sometimes trying conditions. I heard no grumbles, only praise for their very professional work.

Australian J/24 Race CommitteeA comment from Peter Edwards from Cronulla regarding the Race Committee, “For the next three days I got to experience the most proficient, organized, and skilled Race Committee I have ever been involved with. From the top, Graeme Watt and Peter Taylor empower all their team with a cool calm and sense of importance that make you proud to be involved with them.  My thanks go to all the team for allowing me to be part of your team.
Sandringham Race Committee are as good as it gets, if not better, and I had so much enjoyment in being part of it, I really didn’t want to leave!!”

The Vic J/24 fleet did a fantastic job organizing the regatta. President John Neville and the committee put in huge hours, effort and energy into making these Nationals one of the best anyone can remember.

The presentation was held in the Sandy Harbourview restaurant, another very successful evening with El Presidente, master MC and funnyman John Neville.  He lamented that the regatta had not ended when he was winning, but doing a sterling job presenting trophies, cracking jokes and keeping us all in laughter.

Sailing photo credits- Luis Ferreiro- contact him- PH: 0439 353 865 or website-  And, you can see more fantastic pics of the action here-    For more Australian J/24 Nationals sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.