Our first state championships; first day together; or second day on the water – call it what you want – certainly made for a trying weekend for the newly developing team on Jive (Sidetracked). The team undoubtedly began to learn how to sail a J24 as the races when on with the final race on Saturday being the most successful and just sneaking inside the top ten.
Tactics and starts were arguably the strongest aspect of the team thanks to the wisdom of Ben Gunther and Chris Fawke, coupled with the experience of Oliver Mckeon calling the shifts. Sunday saw the bow work of Nathan Anderson being put to the test – especially on the leeward drops; however it was the rigging which could not handle the wrath of the new superstar team with the starboard inner turnbuckle proving to be the weakest link.
In hindsight, the softer brass nut atop the turnbuckle had its thread ripped clean by the stainless steel thread of the turnbuckle below – potentially due to being un-oiled or a gradual demise from salt and grit over the years.
At the time of failure, the inner tension read between 19 and 21 (on Adam’s gauge). The immediate reaction of the team was to tack onto port so that the tension could be taken by the opposite shrouds so that work could be carried out on the damaged inner.
Several thicknesses of rope were used to loop the flange at the top of the thread to the deck plate, and once tied, another rope; fastened between the slack (newly repaired) inner and the adjacent outer was tied, and as it was pushed skywards, the tension on the inner wire again increased to prevent the mast from buckling inwards.
Once the team had the mast secured, it was a single tack back to the yacht club and up to the bar.
The Australian J24 fleet is returning to its glory days and enthusiastic owners and crews are reaping the benefits, as I reflect on another excellent regatta.
The MONJON Victorian Championship went along without a hitch last weekend, largely due to the huge amount of preparation from a dedicated team of volunteers, led by the Victorian Association’s own Sarah Thompson and Doug Macgregor.
The weather, race committee and eager owners and crews combined to provide exhilarating racing and spectacular viewing for those lucky enough to be out there. Throughout the fleet we could see the individual battles, all as important as the next.
Up front Ben Lamb hung in on a testing Saturday and then took control on Sunday in a performance as good as I have seen in a J24, to hold the Pacemaker and Convicts teams at bay. Kaotics win all the more important as they helped NSW get one back, after Pacemaker had taken out the NSW and National Titles earlier this summer.
I remember racing Ben Lamb in similar conditions at the 2006 Worlds when Kaotic won Race 7 and we finished third, and I can safely say they have lost none of their speed, particularly downwind.
The racing between Kaotic, Pacemaker and Convicts Revenge in the big breeze on Sunday was as tough as it gets, as we pushed each other to the limit. Stephen Girdis, a multiple National Champion and successful worlds campaigner has certainly regained his J24 mojo and would have probably taken the title, if not for two separate incidents with hyperactive which resulted in costly penalty turns.
The battle for top 5 honours was intense but Adam Evans and Hugo Ottoway showed cool heads on Sunday with solid performances in the strong northerly, enough to keep the chasing pack at bay, which was no easy task considering the improvement of the next bunch. Our first female skipper Kirsty Harris on Hyperactive was a very credible sixth, followed by Jumping Jack Flash who had fourth all but stitched up with consistently strong finishes, until their OCS in the final race. In eighth and sailing a chartered boat we had Dave West, followed by By the Lee and Make My Jay rounds out the top 10.
Normally a report might stop at the top ten but the next four boats need special mention, especially when 11th place is Joel Aulich helming Gridlock. Sailing with dad Steve on strings and sisters Megan and Kate keeping the front half in order with Steph Strong, this was their first regatta and I look forward to watching this crew cause headaches further up the order in the near future. Ron Thomson finished 12th to comfortably keep the ‘Thommo Cup’ in Victoria, followed by Michael Lewenhagen in Excite your Sense. This was a very solid result considering most of their energy went towards ensuring we had an awesome Saturday evening BBQ, which we did! Thank you Mark Haughton (VIC Measurer) for your efforts getting the fleet measured, and in some cases painted, so we had another boat on the water.
Andrew Hunting and his youth team are new to the class and in finishing 14th they kept 6 boats behind them in their first regatta, despite carrying maximum points in the final two races following gear failure. Smart thinking from their team got the boat home safely and I must say it is great to see the rejuvenated “Sidetracked” being sailed by such a great bunch of guys.
The racing was very tough, and as we continue to tweak our equipment, Ben Lamb highlighted the value of perfecting the pin end start. At the pointy end, the crew work was super slick and the speeds were so even, that in most cases if you want to win races, it comes down to who gets off the line best. This is especially the case when the pin end is favoured and the left side of the course is paying, as it has been in almost every race of both the Nationals and the Vic States. At the Nationals each race went to whoever won the battle at the pin end, and on Sunday Kaotic did it in every race for three wins!
So where to from here you ask? Well at the moment a Victorian boat holds the NSW Title, a NSW boat holds the Victorian Title and the Nationals went the way of the Victorians by a solitary point. VIC 2 lead NSW 1. Bring on the NSW Titles later this year! One Design all the way.
Monjon (Australia) 2012 J24 Victorian Championships – Story by Doug MacGregor
Day one, race one; the wind vanished faster than a Scotsman’s wallet. Four boats not only didn’t finish, they didn’t even get to see the finishing line as it was lifted and moved…with the flag for this being flown from some boat other than the committee boat. We’ve just got to introduce (at least) one drop in this series now that it involves 7 races. That’s what we huffily suggested amongst my crew.
For the next three races the wind couldn’t have been better. To give a clearer picture, we race at the back of what we, on Crackerjack, call the pelaton. The learned amongst you will know this makes the first top mark (before the pack has thinned out a bit) very interesting to say the least. You are holding your line to the mark, the mob arrive in front of you and then…you don’t have the line. You have to make more tacks than Santa Claus makes roof top visits on Christmas Eve. And we made the same mistake over and over and over again. We thought we’d beat that gang of bullying sails to the mark, and never did. Some of the first top marks made stock car racing look like synchronised swimming. All of that aside this was our third time that all five of my crew had been on the water together since May last year. So really, we were “training”…I told my crew it’s called “competition training”…for the nationals. (ahem). We were in awe of the speed and sheer precocious talent the younger crews showed. All along I had been saying to my crew that sailing Js is a whole other ball game. Tell that to the youth posse. Whilst in my modest opinion they were in the most part sailing their J24s way too heeled over…still they made us feel as if we were sailing backwards. So, day one…frustrated, humiliated, depressed, impressed, puzzled and our pants down around our ankles. Strangely “all is not lost” was our battle cry. To be honest I had one hand on my “Boat for Sale” sign.
A feisty wind presented itself to the fleet on day two. “Bring it on” was our new battle cry…we do slogans well, don’t we??…Our belief is the heavy air really finds out the crews who aren’t as well oiled as they could be. That turned out to be us! Race one was touch and go genoa weather…we changed gear more times than Barry Humphries has changed stage costumes. We were please with our speed but completely bemused by our position in the field…er, that would be near back. Race two…I’ll not even get into it that much except to say that jibs became the order of the day (gusts of 28kts)…. We rounded the first top mark and popped the kite…with the vang on(!!!)..A broach, up again, then another broach straight into a Chinese gybe…a very, very, long Chinese gybe. Very long. Waaaaay long. (funny that, the photographer was there too – Ed) An injury to take care of; a jarred neck, then another one; a cut through an eyebrow. Life jackets on folks. No more kite on that run. Uphill again we toiled and we popped the kite again for the second downhill run…back in the saddle as they say. It was beyond our skills to hold the spinnaker in those gusts so down it came and we opted for safety. The final race we decided, for the hell of it, to mix it with the big boys. We crossed the line at the pin end just behind the incredible (and ultimately victorious) Ben Lamb and basically spent the whole of that first leg copying everything he did…steering, trim, tacking…as much as we could anyway. All of which gave us our crowning moment…eighth to the top mark. Felt like we’d won the trophy.
Before I sign off I want to thank my crew. Brave and loyal and tough. They never give up, they never stop trying to be better, they are never casual. Battered and bruised and still they are there, looking at the nationals and knowing we are capable of much, much more. I am lucky to have them.
I know that J24s are often maligned as old fashioned boats these days but they still provide tight tactical racing in good sized fleets and at an affordable entry level. I sailed my first J24 back in the late 70s and was the original Victorian dealer for the class so I have a bit of a soft spot for the boats. We have a growing and very active fleet at Sandringham Yacht Club with 18 boats now parked on the hardstand and prospective owners clamouring for space for more boats. A fantastic initiative from the local fleet has been to provide two fully kitted J24s for intermediate & youth sailors to charter and race for a season as a stepping stone from the off the beach dinghy scene to keelboat racing.
Last Sunday I was fortunate to hitch a ride with ISAF judge Rob Ware on the Jury boat to observe and photograph the 20 boat J24 fleet fighting out the last three races on the final day of their 2012 Victorian State Championships off Sandringham. It’s a privileged position for a keen sailing observer and photographer to be in as we were right up close and personal with the sailors as they raced hard on a gusty Port Phillip.
We were closely observing a couple of the boats running hard past the leeward mark and on to the finish of the second race of the day in about 25 knots of gusty northerly when a big gust came through and caught the windward boat, Brendan Lee’s ominously named “By The Lee” and spun her out.
The States were a huge success and we have stories from various authors and pics taken by Chris Furey.
The following articles are penned by different competitors in the States and provide an interesting insight from different perspectives on the regatta. Read and enjoy
We have to thank our old J24 mate Chris Furey for taking a stack of pictures and making them available. Chris was instrumental in getting the class started way, way back in the past here in Victoria and was a keen J 24 sailor for many years.
Have a look and see if you can see yourself doing it right ! Go to the 2012 Vic States page under the Vic tab above – or click here
This year the 2012 Monjon J24 Victorian Championship attracted 3 National champions, 4 New South Wales , 2 South Australian and 1 youth competitor along with the majority of the Victorian fleet to make the most competitive regatta in years.All praise to the committee who worked to secure a major sponsor Monjon Securities and two minor sponsors U.K Halsey sailmakers and Quantum Sailmakers. With their assistance we were able to host two club BBQs and a social night curtiousy of Michael Lewenhagen and friends.
Not since 1996 have 20 first class J24’s raced a Victorian Championship. Credit must go to Greame Watt and crew who did an excellent job in running 7 heats which started in 5 knots and progressively increased over two days to the final race in 30 knots.
Revenge is a good word to discribe the mood of the regatta, held only six weeks since the National title in South Australia, all bar one of the top 10 boats in Australia attended. It was gloves off and many boats confirmed there commitment to this prestigious title by purchasing new sails for this event.Ben Lamb sailing Kaotic (NSW) won with five firsts, second was National Champion David Suda (Victoria) and third Steve Girdis (NSW). Handicap winner Bendan Lee (Victoria).
The racing was full of events which should be mentioned, to begin………
The first race was a 5 knot , one lap affair which saw some of the fleet never making the finish. Simon Grain (Victoria) was given first place only to learn he was OCS. With all points to count it was sayanara to the Make My Jay team., Following a southerly change the remainder of the races on saturday were sailed in top end genoa conditions. By the end of the day Steve Girdis led the points, from Lamb and Suda. Also making an impressive score card was JJF from South Australia, this followed through until they too scored a OCS in the final race of the regatta, knocking them out of the top 5.
The second day began in genoa conditions which quickly changed for the remaining two heats to top end jib.
A J24 becomes a real challenge in 30 knots which was confirmed when both Lamb and Suda Chinese gybed down wind whilst pushing for the lead, however this was nothing compared to some of the fleet who : snapped halyards, hit boats, got tangled together when two rolled over whilst beside each other, ( interesting sight), tore the top off spinnakers, snapped turnbuckles on the lowers (lucky!!), lost crew over the side whilst sailing home and saw a number of boats not making the finish of the last race. Honours must go to class stalwart Doug MacGregor, who when setting his spinnaker for the last leg, rolled the boat twice and then Chinese gybed, although Doug thought the boat was going to sink, all credit must go to the crew who pulled it all together to finish the race, “no maximum points there….still beat three boats”, to quote Doug in his best Scottish accent.
Its been a long time since Victorian J’s have sailed in 30 knots and this was shown by the exhausted sailors who were presented with a New perpetual trophy. To quote Doug, “the mood has changed in our local fleet, its become more competitive”. We now have a new batch of under 30 male and female sailors in the class and this is a great thing to see the next generation moving up. This year Victorian association has been assisted by the generious donation of two beautifully restored and painted J24’s donated by Sidetracked Entertainment and the Neville Family. These boats have been given to two youth crews, and the first sailed in this regatta. It will only be a matter of time before we see their names on the Victorian Title, and that will be a good thing.
Last but not least, a personal word of advice “stop friggin’ with the riggin” I can guarantee you’ll go better……..
Jetwash was the blast that our own Dave Suda felt at the end of the 2012 Monjon Victorian State Champs on the weekend. After taking out the Nationals in Adelaide by narrowly beating Ben Lamb from NSW, Dave had to take a back seat this time to Ben’s dominant 5 wins out of 7 races over the two days of the states. The remaining 2 wins went to Steve Girdis also from NSW who picked up third.
Second wasn’t all bad for Dave though as without a win he showed that consistancey is the name of the game and he had nothing worse than a 5th, inspite of having to go back to the start line a couple of times.
Saturdays racing was held in perfect conditions with 5 – 15 knots, flat water and sunshine. Sunday was quite a different story with winds averaging 20 – 30 knots making for exciting racing. We had a few prangs, the worst being for Brendan Lee who after practising with Simon Grain had another coming together in the last race, this one being terminal to his racing. However Brendan took out the Handicap Trophy with Steve Girdis (Convicts Revenge) and Dave Suda (Pacemaker) in 2nd and 3rd.
Our biggest fleet in years with 20 boats made great racing and the fleet looked fantastic as we took over the racetrack off Sandy.
Sarah Thompsons Vic committee excelled themselves in working with SYC for great on water management headed by Graeme Watt again (our own personal PRO by now !) and also by putting on an awesome social scene with a sausage sizzle after measuring on Friday night, a huge and now traditional party on the Saturday night, this time at Michaels Lewenhagens new house and another great BBQ feed at the presentation at the OTB after the racing on Sunday.
We were very happy to welcome John Moncrieff, the owner of Monjon Security – our States Championship Sponsor – on Sunday and he was able to present the winners with their trophies. He expressed a keenness to support the class on an ongoing basis in the future which is fantastic. Our thanks to Doug MacGregor who organised the sponsorship with Monjon. Naturally if you need security in the future, call Monjon and ask for John, don’t forget to tell him you are a J24 sailor. The committee also organised two minor sponsors, U.K Halsey sailmakers and Quantum Sailmakers, thank you to both these companies for being interested in our class and sponsoring our two winners with vouchers for sails.
The fleet had 4 boats skippered and crewed by young guys and girls, this is a great omen for our future growth and they all will have learned heaps in the regatta – look out all us oldies ! ‘Size Doesn’t Matter’ once again was the best of them – and Adam Evans and his crew proved their worth by coming 4th ahead of perhaps one of the most experienced J24 sailors, Hugo Ottaway – Mr J24 himself !
For the results go to the Sandringham Yacht Club site. Results
More stories and great pictures from Chris Furey (one of Victorias original J sailors and class promoters) to come shortly.
Owners of Hyperactive, Sarah Thompson and Robyn Coombs, with their crew of Kirsty Harris, who is on the helm, Rob Richardson and Joelle Roderick took out the J24 Summer Sprint Series at Sandringham YC on Sunday 16th April. And…they’d a quiet celebratory drink on the deck at the club…they went on to the training lecture and video review of the day’s racing (still quiet)…they went on to weigh their boat (YET AGAIN!), still quiet…and then they went home, you got it, still quiet….and I say quiet because no one but them, save one other (Brendon Lee, who came second), knew that they’d won!! In all fairness the last races were awash with maverick competitors and non entrants, crews out to train (sort of) and crews pulling out. All that was missing was the Black Pearl with Jack Sparrow at the wheel. So, forgive us Hyper..if we’d realized, we’d so have partied!!
Let me now make amends for my oversight for I should really, as vice president, been more on top of this, offer my congratulations to the crew of Hyperactive who have won one of the most coveted titles in Victorian racing, for consistency is exactly what all of us are trying to achieve. It wins races. And you don’t win a series without it. Add to that the many trials and tribulations that Hyper’ have gone through this season with technicalities on their boat and it makes their win even more special. They’ve been stoic, to say the least, and let’s face it really, really fast !!
Also…a huge round of applause for Brendon Lee, and his crew, on By The Lee who came in a very close and hard fought second place. As you may know Brendon is new to the class and has most certainly impressed all of who have been sailing Js a bit longer with how quickly he as learned to sail our funny wee boat.
Again…well done Hyperactive!! I think everyone owes you a beer.