A weekend full of surprises!

Gatsby – owned by JN and generously leant to Janette

I had made up my mind to sit out the Vic championships this year for one and a thousand reasons, but the Monday before the championship weekend brother Ron rings me out of the blue to say there was a boat available that needed a helmsperson. With only a moments thought I was there – great, fly in fly out ( rockstar! – how lucky could I be!) Little did I know there was no crew either!

So with help I managed to gather a lovely bunch of keen sailors for the racing. Sydney ‘foldup’ Matt ( mast person from the winning boat Kaotic last year) kindly offered to join us ( thank you God!). Matt flew down with me last flight Friday evening from Sydney. Simon and Ron put the boat in the water. And in the morning we woke to a text from our French (very much needed 100kg) crewman who said he was “closing in on very first Australian woman” and couldn’t make it for the racing today. I had to smile having never met the man at least he was honest!

So down to the 4 of us. We arrived to see the boat in the water, clean and neat and tidy and by the time we had met each other and had weighed in ( all 270kg of us) it was time to go ( who starts racing at 1000hrs these days?). The wind was a steady 15knots and after establishing the crews limited sailing experience and positions we pulled on our gloves and hoisted the mainsail. First practice work the main pops out of the boom track. So truckie Matt lashes it to the end of the boom with a tight outhall and we were off again.

Race 1 – not a bad start considering no-one onboard had a watch ( used the flags and the whites of our competitors eyes to estimate the start) 101,102,103!!!  Ahh they are coming!! Better power up, lets go for the line!!!… we found ourselves mid fleet approaching the first mark when BANG!! The traveller and mount pulled out from the boat along with 2 x mainsheet pulleys. I was ready to go back ashore but SUPER FOLDUP MATT sprung into action.

We managed to limp around the first mark and lucky it was a long downwind leg as Matt (6ft 4) folded himself up into the back hatch and found the nuts and bits ( he does bit parts for Gumby in the off season). He stayed in there while the girls stood on the traveller and mount and after much blood sweat and tears it was secured. The pulleys and spring were also pieced together enough to give us some purchase for the rest of the day. Miraculously it was sorted by the bottom gate ( with not a second to spare I might add). We headed off upwind to chase ’em down!

The next 2 races were good – shorthanded the girls were fabulous with learning to set and jibe the spinnaker ( had never done this before on a J). With only one major wrap – sailing angles a little sharp (waved “hi” to Brighton Yacht club) we got to the gates packed up ready for the upwind leg every time. And heck only lost a brace at the finish line nearly wrapping the finish boat with our kite, just the once!

Race 4 – I didn’t take note of the windward mark change and headed over to easterly side of the course for the big lift from the left, overlaid the top mark by a country mile –  dunkoff! Last again!!

Day 2 – Wasn’t sure whether any crew would turn up but alas they were there with bells on – comparing bruises. We had time to practice the pole set and jibe while still tied up to the mariner. Matt tightened every nut and bolt and lashed the mainsail before we left the wharf. We decided no matter what the wind did we would stay with the jib and aim to stay with the fleet today.

Race 5 – first start OCS ( lost count!) so back we went and decided to practice our tacks upwind – playing the lifts and knocks – and spinnaker sets and jibes downwind – perfect. OK so now we are ready to go and compete!!

Race 6 – In the groove – and found ourselves battling it out for 15th spot with JN in ‘Vice Versa’ by our side and WC in J-Force so excited to see us in the mix at the top mark he nearly drove us into the hitch mark – hands waving I shooed him away – (he doesn’t want to be my best friend anymore!) And we held 15th ahead of Vice Versa! We were on the up!

Race 7 – the last race – I had decided the Thomo cup was well out of reach (again!) – if you cant beat ’em, join ’em, I thought as I followed my big brother up the first work and kept up with the pack. Switched into race mode again and we were ripping along. Matt calling the wind, tacking beautifully, floating the spinnaker, Jodie jibing systematically and cleanly and Justine arranging the middle of the boat fabulously and tucking the spinnaker away single handily perfect!. We confidently rounded the last windward mark, set the spinnaker and tucked a quick jibe to squeeze up to 13th . And then it was pin back the ears and go for that finish line!!  JN was riding every wave and we could hear him praying from our boat, trying to peg us back with every gust ( please God – I have been a good boy this week, make me go faster!) And it was only the congratulatory hail of “Bitch!” that confirmed our victory…13th!!

We couldn’t wipe the smiles from our faces – it was worth it after all. So what a challenge it was and I am grateful for the opportunity to race and to sail Gatsby ( thanks JN) with such patient and lovely girls and sooo grateful to sail yet again with Matt. He was our godsend for the weekend.

PS. Last saw JN standing under Gatsby negotiating ‘best price’ to buy the boat back from himself!






Club Pro squeaks home in Vic States

The best sight at Sandy - All 19 boats in the water
The best sight at Sandy – All 19 boats in the water

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 !

The pond is full and busy as boats set up for the day
The pond is full and busy as boats set up for the day

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 !

Close racing in the Vic States
Close racing in the Vic States

Close racing – you bet, check out the finish times of the last race, boats tied, boats finishing 1 second apart, next to nothing separates this fleet !

1 4771 CONVICTS REVENGE Stephen Girdis CYCA 13:07:55 45:55 1.0
2 4790 SDM Adam Evans SYC 13:09:10 47:10 2.0
3 1118 JIVE Andrew Hunting SYC 13:09:11 47:11 3.0
4 5333 PACEMAKER David Suda SYC 13:09:12 47:12 4.0
5 1324 KICKING BOTTOM Ron Thomson SYC 13:09:48 47:48 5.5
5 5246 HYPERACTIVE Kirsty Harris SYC 13:09:48 47:48 5.5
7 4792 JET Simon Grain SYC 13:09:50 47:50 7.0
8 5400 BRUSCHETTA VI Hugo Ottaway SYC 13:10:00 48:00 8.0
9 4795 BY THE LEE Brendan Lee SYC 13:10:01 48:01 9.0
10 4852 GRIDLOCK Mark Foster SYC 13:10:31 48:31 10.0
11 4859 EL FIDELDO Doug Watson CYCSA 13:10:32 48:32 11.0
12 4470 SANGUINE Peter Moulang SYC 13:10:35 48:35 12.0
13 4466 GATSBY Janette Symes SYC 13:11:36 49:36 13.0

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 J24s at a club level at the moment in Australia with consistent racing all year and a strong ‘travelling’ 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 travelling 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.

See you at the next one.

If you have good pics send them to me and I will get them online.

For full results Click Here


MRX Regatta in Auckland

A Touch of Gloss as enjoyed by the JET crew.
A Touch of Gloss as enjoyed by the JET crew.

The MRX is a Farr 1020 with a small steroid pack stuck up it’s transom, a better rig, a racing deck with a bigger cockpit, a better keel and about 1200kg lighter.

In Auckland they have 10 of them – all identical and just like the J24 they offer incredibly close racing. The JET crew has just been over there doing the MRX Pacific Keelboat Challenge and having a fantastic time

Next year we need to get a group of 6 J crews to go over and have a fantastic J party sailing in this regatta, we would have a ball. I know because we did this year.

I have put together a story and a few pics about it all – too much to go on the J site front page so here is a link to it on another page


Hit The Mark, a new edition from our favourite writer and editor

Ed is Back and ain’t we glad. He’s brought his writing friends Helen Back, Chick N. Curry and Hugh Jarse back into the editorial fold as well

I think we all know the style of the worlds best J writer and editor. Well done Doug, another huge and awesome effort !

So get into this new edition of Hit the Mark pronto, some of you have already see it but for the rest of the world – here it is !

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