Sunday 9th November. Fourteen J24s on the water. Seventy Sailors. Blue skies. Perfect winds. Three blistering races. And excellent race management. The most active keelboat class on the bay ‘giein’ it laldy’ as they say in Scotland. Was a state titles? Was it a National Championship? Was it a regatta? Nope…just a normal J24 Sunday race day!
As predicted, this season is turning out to be like no previous J24 season. The days when Pacemaker would win race after race by ten boat lengths are gone. There are now any one of five boats who can win a race and the latest development is that even some of the historic middle markers are popping up at the pointy end. There now is no boat that is noticeably quicker than any other and the J24s are now producing racing that is all about seamanship, tactics, crew work and reading the shifts. Feel like you are missing out? Rob Date (Victorian Ocean Racer Of The Year and owner/skipper of Scarlet Runner) doesn’t, he skippered Hyperactive for a sprint day. Albert Doggett (Fast Company) doesn’t, he trimmed on Crackerjack. Geoff Wood (Fast Company and Calm) doesn’t, he trimmed on Crackerjack earlier in the season. Marissa Chalkley (owns Hush) doesn’t, she crews on Jet. Husband Pete Chalkley and Marissa both crewed on Code Violation in the NSW state titles. Peter Fitzgibbons “Fitzy” (Veloce) doesn’t, he crews on J Force. Joelle Roderick (38 degrees) doesn’t, she crews on Hyperactive…hey, the list is long and I don’t want to lose you dear reader but you’ve just got to try this stuff!
Final point. Fourteen boats on the water at Sandringham Yacht Club. That’s more than the J24 Nationals in Sydney earlier this year, it’s more than the NSW State Titles held a couple of weeks ago and its 82% of our available racing fleet. Fantastic numbers in anyone’s book.
NOTE. There are three J’s for sale in Melbourne … two under $15,000 and one available at the top end. Just sayin’.
Doug MacGregor, President J24 Association Victoria
This year’s NSW States offered something for everyone, or in reality everything for everyone. From almost no wind in race 4 on Sunday morning to around 60knots in Saturday arvo’s thunderstorm, along with lightning, thunder and rain … a good decision by the race committee to close the show down after race 3.
Saturday always looked like being windy, jib weather from way back – although there were a couple of genoas being stretched on the course, the comment was that they weren’t really any advantage though. Looks like there were a couple of people taking a swim too, Sean lost Big Tim and one of the girls over the side when the lifeline let go. The default question was why the other two weren’t hiking hard enough to go in with them …. mmm questions being asked ! I heard Jeanette also had a swimmer but don’t have the details. Tricky sailing with really shifty westerlies and a start line deep in Rose bay to a top mark to the north of Shark Is. Race two and a course change saw us and a couple of others head out to the left only to find that the top mark hadn’t moved more than a boat length, so we had a reach in around the island back to the top mark …. so much for thinking I had picked a winner there !
We were having our own little problems on Code, the boat hadn’t been raced for a couple of years and we had a few boat issues, new crew (Trimmer Pete is used to steering a bigger boat and our training prior was in everything under 5knots and how to use a motor to get back home) and of course the weather and the bloke on the helm – no wonder we won the handicap prize. But seriously we improved with every race untill the last two and I have to thank my crew for the huge effort in getting up from Melbourne and racing the boat, as usual we had fun and when you aren’t winning, that is what sailing is all about.
Race 2 gave us all a chance to go downwind in a big breeze (for a change) and many boats took the no kite option … Terry, next time I am risking the national debt with the kite and you are coasting along without one at the same speed next to me, could you just please move away so it isn’t so obvious ! Jeanette Syme sailing Brett Hudson’s Wildfire (with Brett in the crew said, “it was a bit hair raising on Saturday, especially squalls on the downwind, I was surprised to see my battered and bruised team turn up on Sunday – but their moral usually lifts after a good flogging! And poor Elena slipped in after a big westerley lift dropped into a knock and we fell over to windward with 6 and came up with 5. She was such a trooper smiling all the way!”
But of course the front of the fleet is sailing away from us at light speed and as usual the bloody Black Prince is up there and will ask ‘where was I’ later, but this time he’s not getting it all his own way. Steve Girdis has gone cycling on pain of death from someone and Robbie Brewer is out of retirement and driving Convicts and driving well, with two to one on Dave in Kaotic, he is the day winner. In fact we are all winners when most of us get home before the next storm cell hits. So glad we are not racing in that. Not without some drama at the club and round the corner for the boats going back to the CYC though. It’s as black as … and then white, as the 60knot front of the thunderstorm lifts the top 2 feet of water into the air around the boats in pleasant little Felix Bay. Some of us got ashore … and some didn’t. Vortex went ashore too, well done Sean in the crew tender turned rescue boat dragging Vortex off in the height of the storm. Sean, yes that’s the Commodore, organiser, tender driver, boat rescuer, crew rescuer and the guy that also comes 3rd – makes me feel very humble !
This year we have 4 boats from Cronulla, the fast developing fleet down in the ‘Shire’. One might say a mixed bag of boats and sailors like anywhere, but a great group of guys and girls that love a good time and some hard racing. It’s been a process to get them to the harbour but 3 have sailed up and Dave Mackay has trailed. Dave is the guy that won the big one in the Moths some … well quite some years ago. Known affectionately as “Magoo” and with a sense of humour that instantly puts you at ease and laughing, he is no slug on the race course and comes home 4th overall in Stockcar. Welcome to our world Dave, hope you come and play more often. And that goes for all our new friends at Cronulla, Barry Ryan in Pinot, Clinton Hood in CJ Constructions and Mick Reynolds in Slippery Fish who has worked so hard to get the Cronulla Js into class racing with us. Lets get more of you to come and play.
Sunday has dawned sunny and with a dropping westerly breeze, very shifty and getting very light, the Black Prince sailing Arthur Crother’s Kaotic with a mixed crew out of Melbourne bangs in another win to make the tally 2 all with Convicts. We drift around for a little while as the wind tries to make up it’s mind. Finally the wind changes to a south east breeze, settling down and offering great top end genoa racing for the last two …. or was that the last 5 races.
Three practice starts in the last race had the RO threatening the black flag and that was enough to finally get a clean start away. Convicts they might be, but they nailed the last two and it was a done deal. Robbie Brewer and team on Convicts Revenge taking it out from Dave Suda on Kaotic and the Commodore on Sailpac coming in 3rd.
The team on Code Violation won the Zimmer Frame with Barry Ryan in Pinot and Geoff Cowen in Nokomis 2nd and 3rd.
Congratulations to Kate Holmes for being awarded the Women on Water Trophy for many years of attendance and effort with Jeanette on various boats. No Thommo Cup this year as Ron didn’t show, so I guess Jeanette keeps it by default.
Thanks to the team at RPEYC, the NSW Association, the help at the crane at RANSA and the effort from the Cronulla guys to get there, all the Sydney guys and girls that turn up and race and thanks to all the volunteers and friendly smiling faces that made the regatta an event we look forward to.
If you want to add your own comments or pics about the regatta send them to me and I will put them online. Cheers Simon