The battle for 3rd

A somewhat delayed post about the nationals – but better late than never!

As mentioned in an earlier post, there were two battles to take place on the final day of racing in the nationals.

The race for first between Sean in Wetty Gripper and Doug in Code Violation and the race for third between Hugo in Vice Versa and Dave in Pacemaker – with both boats only separated by a point.

As it turns out the race for third turned into very interesting battle on that final day.

The goal for Hugo was simple, beat Pacemaker in both races and secure third.

As soon as the northerly filled in and the start gun fired, it was game on. Hugo had the pace and the tactics to keep Dave at bay for the first lap. The comments from the crew on Pacemaker were that they had been outclassed by the team on Vice Versa. During the final lap, Vice Versa held a loose cover on Pacemaker taking them close to the starboard layline. A tacking duel just before the layline gave Pacemaker just enough room to breath on the way towards the mark.

By the time the to boats reached the top mark for the final time, Vice Versa had extended their lead to almost 10 boat lengths. Spotting traffic and a left hand windshift at the top mark gave Pacemaker the break they were looking for and tacked in on the stern of Vice Versa as they rounded the top mark heading for the finish.

From this point, it was game on. Pacemaker had one goal at this point… get in front! What ensued was a shy to shy gybing duel that would have had at least 10 gybes in it (we lost count!) that pushed both crews to the limit of their abilities.

At one point down the leg, Pacemaker broke the overlap and moved clear ahead, but failed to gain a starboard advantage. It was during the second half of the leg, that the Pacemaker crew had realised that something interesting was about to happen on the scoreboard. By locking horns with Vice Versa, Pacemaker had moved Vice Versa back down the field to a point where the boats were due to finish 8th and 9th. It was the 8th that was going to make the scoreboard very interesting as this changed the drops for both boats and left them with even points going into the last race. (For a detailed explanation, which includes hand waving and whiteboards – talk to the Pacemaker crew!)

Race 9 finished with Vice Versa just beating Pacemaker across the line.

The final race was shaping up to be a battle, with both teams going in on even points, but with Hugo ahead on a countback.

An unfortunate first beat and top mark rounding saw Vice Versa stuck at the back of the pack, with Pacemaker having an easy time up the front. The final result saw Pacemaker sneak home with a third.

Get out and revamp your old boat, it's worth it!

One of the huge benefits of sailing a windward leeward course is, it evens out the boats.

At the 2006 Melbourne World Championships, many of the top performers were boats with a minimum age of 15 years. None was more noticeable than Mike Ingham who shipped a 20 year old J out from America, whilst not in the top 3, his top 5 finish was excellent. He then went on to come second at the 2007 Worlds in Mexico in the same boat.
At the 2009 J Worlds in Sardinia last year, the majority of the fleet were boats 10 years+, just with new rigs and fast as ever.

Since then in Melbourne we have seen older J’s revamped and now competing at the front of the fleet. Ron Thompson’s AUS 1324 “Kicking Bottom” ( 20+ years old) has won several races at the beginning of the season, and Micheal Lewenhagen has just put AUS 1687 “Excite your Senses”, back in the water after a major rebuild.
In addition, 3 boats have new rigs and 2 have upgraded 2nd hand rigs. The end result of all of this effort, is improved performance across the fleet.
This was driven home when the J fleet sailed in the Audi Victoria Week at Geelong. Out of the 4 races that weekend the J’s got line honours in 3 and a 2nd in the 4th. A fantastic effort out of 50+ boats all of whom were bigger. In past years the S80 design yachts would have sailed past the J’s, this year, none of the 10 S80’s beat a J24 for line honours!
In South Australia several owners have revamped old J’s. Some of these boats were past Australian champions, were cheap to buy, cheap to clean up and revamp and are now sailing at the front of the national fleet again.

J24’s in Australia, can be brought up to race speed with a minimum of effort and experience. With the racing opportunities now offered, the excuse that your boat is no longer competitive no longer holds water. There are around 200 J24’s in Australia and most can be revamped into a competitive boat.

Over the next few months I will be listing hints on how to get old J’s fast, by reducing weight and getting rid of the huge amounts of junk found down stairs.

So, to all the owners of J’s not currently being used because of a notion that they’re no longer competitive, get out there and fix them up and see how quick they still can be.  Just maybe, your boat may have been one that started a legend…. and …. one that could start another.

A revamped active fleet maintains the investment we all have in our boats, increases the enjoyment and interest in the class.

So get the spanners out, find the screw driver and start taking off all that old crap.

Hugo, Vice Versa.