True to recent form, the real regatta results centred around who would come second, sad really, but the Black Prince is supreme, almost untouchable. I say ‘almost’ because he is, ‘Mr J24’ Hugo Ottaway creamed one off him and ‘Stompin’ John Neville almost did.
In the challenging lighter conditions National Champion ‘Pacemaker’, skippered by David Suda (aka The Black Prince of Sandringham’), sailed what could be described as his best ever regatta. Despite an uncharacteristically larger number of average to poor starts, the Prince silently slipped through the fleet to record a perfect score after the drop. Many thought it would be game over from a position like that however, with great boat speed and excellent tactics it didn’t seem to matter. “Did you see him go past?”, asks my crew, “no, must have gone the other way up or down”, “which way was that?” they ask, “well not the way we went, that’s for sure”. We had a bad regatta.
So who did come second. Well he isn’t a J sailor, none of the crew are J sailors, but they are all bloody good, 49er and top dinghy sailors. Michah Shuwalow is the SYC club coach – seems he knows his stuff. Simon lent his spare boat ‘Make My Jay’ to get him on the water and told him to sail it like a dinghy – looks like that worked ! MMJ might be worth just that little bit more – better rewrite the ad !
And third, collecting the bronze medallions was a resurging Hugo Ottaway ‘Mr 24′, consistent across the regatta and absolutely blitzing Dave in race 3, could have made the Princes’ pedestal a bit wobbly right there Hugo.
This year’s 2016 Monjon Victorian State title saw 20 entries including two from South Australia and two from New South Wales. The depth of talent included past national champions and multiple runners up all vying for a top finish. In true J 24 spirit the regatta began with many boats not passing the maximum crew weight of 400 kgs, (the Jet crew lost 10kg in the last week before) of particular amusement was Brendan Lee running up and down Beach Road wrapped in a plastic garbage bag.
Day one and I was somewhat alarmed to see the measurer (Mr J24) walking down the marina armed with a pair of bolt cutters and blatantly cutting the life lines off an offending yacht – not as alarmed as the owner ! However it was quickly fixed and then ready to sail, despite the concerns of the owner.
The weather range was from 0 to 15 knots with direction the full 360 degrees, fortunately this settled, however there was no consistent pattern making it a fresh challenge every race. With lighter winds, some awkward slop at times and an often tight 20 boat fleet, clear lanes were not easily found, so back in the pack quickly meant further back.
This year we saw new faces in the front pack with Michah Shuwalow second overall and Stephen Byrne in ‘Code Violation’ scoring a 2 & 4 in the last two heats. The race for the minor places was tight with one point between second and third and three points between fourth and sixth. Of special note was the performance of ‘Stompin’ John Neville and crew on Vice Versa, finishing 5th, who made a rush just to get to the start line after repairs from a major collision several weeks prior. They were a regular appearance at the front of the pack only losing one race to Suda on the line. John has become a class stalwart in Melbourne, always with a quip and a smile and soon to take on the running of the Vic Assn from ‘Wee Dougie’ who has done an immense and amazing job of running the association for the past 3 years. We will miss the briefing and presentation speeches from Doug. but as you all know, ‘Stompin’ John has his own brand of humour and presentation. Never a dull moment in Melbourne !
Who could have imagined a couple of hours waiting for wind on Sunday morning at the ‘Balmy Regatta’. Don’t know who started it but we have a new light weather sport – ‘Boat Ball’. With all the boats milling around a small ball is being thrown from boat to boat, some catch it and some don’t, which means a boat scramble to pick it up. Hours of aimless fun in the sun with many dipping into their attitude adjuster supplies – well what the hell, we may not even get to race. But we did.
A light SW came in and we got away to two smooth water races in the sun and warm conditions – purrfect sailing. Even yours truely put in a better one. He who chose to win banged off another two bullets, visiting ‘Other Dougie’ on the three legged donkey ‘El Fideldo’ and Dave ‘Westie’ West sailing local boat ‘Fly Away Jay’ cemented their 4th and 7th positions. Thanks for coming guys- always a better regatta with you here. Brendan Lee was in there at 6th after having just weighed in finally.
Back in the pack the normal fun loving, hard sailing J crews battled it out, better in some races and down in others – there have to be lots of stories that I don’t know about, I think there was a man overboard somewhere and I know there was plenty of mark yelling at times. Ron beat Janette on points, but Janette won the Thommo Cup – not sure how that one worked out, maybe it was done on PHS this time. Warren Campbell on ‘J Force’ was suddenly fast, blitzing the starts, seems he discovered a huge amount of ‘long time’ water in his forward buoyancy tanks – goes better without it. Nothing wrong with the boat now!
There’s the usual people who get in the same people’s way – you know who you are – there’s the little races within a race actions, the fight for second last place, the younger crews on youth boats and the older guys hanging in there. Once again the women sailing in our fleet is running at about 40% (a much prettier fleet than some), we have female skippers and crews with incredible talent enjoying competitive racing in the J24 fleet. Eat your heart out skinny boat class !
Massive thanks to the sponsor MONJON, SYC race officials who only flew one Black Flag and the interstate competitors who travel thousands of kilometres to make our regatta, of national standard. Thanks also to Luis Ferreiro for taking the most amazing pics out of a less than visually exciting regatta. I will be doing another article featuring more pics from Luis. To see his pics go to www.sportsnap.com.au
Victorian Title: 1st Pacemaker – David Suda, 2nd Make My Jay – Michah Shuwalow 3rd, Bruschetta VI – Hugo Ottaway.
Handicap: 1st Vice Versa – ‘Stompin’ John Neville, 2nd Code Violation – Stephen Byrne, 3rd Gridlock – Simon Pickett.
Full results here
Contributions to the article above from Hugo Ottaway (thanks), you know who the ed is.