Congratulations to Brendan Lee and his crew on his Nationals win.
Here is a precis of the champs from Brendan’s point of view.
“After some confusion as to whether the 2019 J24 National Championships would be held in Adelaide or not, the Cruising Yacht Club of South Australia got behind the J24 class and hosted the championships from the 3rd to the 6th of January 2019.
Whilst down on entrants from previous years the competition was just as fierce. A special thank you to the 10 crews that travelled from NSW and Victoria.
Twelve races were scheduled over 4 days of racing with the first discard coming in after race 8 and the second after race 10.
Day 1 and with a forecast top of 41 degrees, race management decided to put up the “AP” and keep the fleet in the shade until the sea breeze kicked in. Race 1 eventually got underway in about 6 knots of wind with the official sea breeze announcing itself part way up the 3rd leg with a massive starboard lift. Those that decided to go to the left gate and out to sea prospered. Those that did not, paid a hefty price, except for “Team El Fideldo” who charged out to sea and picked up the generous lift to record a bullet in Race 1.
If anyone was watching from the shore they would have been curious as to why there was often someone hanging over the back of the boats. This was to rid seagrass from the rudder. Unfortunately arms were not long enough so it was just a case of putting up with it and assuming that everyone was “in the same boat” so to speak. As for the keel, well there was little that could be done other than sailing backwards which would not only have been costly but likely pointless as it would have just been a matter of time until more accumulated. I understand “Wildfire” did infact execute the backwards move mid race. The following morning a number of brooms showed up on various boats with “Vice Versa” and “By The Lee” targeting the same Bunnings at the same time.
With the first race out of the way and hopefully an early discard, the hammer went down and “By The Lee” picked up Race 2.
Race 3 and it was “Stamped Urgent” recording the win, successfully defending off “By The Lee” which at times were just 4cm behind and doing everything possible to get by. A shoulda-coulda moment for sure. J24 One Design sailing at its best!
By the end of Day 1 and with 3 races sailed it was “Stamped Urgent” showing the way on 7 points with “Tinto” and “Two Dogs” on 10 points and “By The Lee” lying 4th on 11 points.
Following the day’s racing, it was the usual stories and banter about what coulda and shoulda been enjoyed over a BBQ put on by the South Australian Association. Thank you to Jim and Robyn for bringing it all together and Andrew and others for doing the cooking in almost 40 degree heat.
Sponsors “Dog Ridge Wines” joined the party by giving away 60 bottles of Rosé to be handed out to the top 3 places on ‘One Design’ and ‘PHS’ for each race and a new Genoa from Peter Stevens, representing a new Chinese Manufacturer “Loong Sails” for the median placed PHS boat overall.
Day 2 and the forecast Strong Wind Warning was spot on. St Vincent’s Gulf was recording in excess of 25 knots. With no wind abatement in sight, race management called off the day and after just 3 races the fleet was rewarded with a lay day. Some chose to go to the wineries and others decided to race go-carts to blow off the adrenaline built up from Day 1. All in all it was in fact a great J24 community day with many teams coming together and having fun.
Day 3 and the wind had moderated to 12-15 knots. Race 4 was set in at 0.6nm, however I think the race officer underestimated the speed of a J24 and subsequently set Race 5 at 0.8nm and Race 6 & 7 at 1.0nm. With a big incoming tide the upwind legs on the last race was seriously hard work.
Race 4 and 6 were taken out by “By The Lee” with “Stamped Urgent” picking up Race 5 and their second win.
Onto race 7 and the final race of the day and it was a new boat at the top “Wildfire” which I think started a few minutes ahead of the rest as this is how it ended up. I think Ron and the team were in the bar by the time the second boat crossed the line. Well done!
So at the end of Day 3 it was “By The Lee” and “Tinto” at the top on 20 points with “Stamped Urgent” just 6 points behind.
With Day 2 being blown out, race management decided to get things underway an hour early on the final day so the stage was set for a 10am start and up to 4 races scheduled. The championship was far from decided.
Day 4 and “By The Lee” knew what they needed to do….stay ahead of “Tinto” in every race. Race 8 got underway in about 8 knots of breeze it was “By The Lee” rounding the top mark in first place with “Tinto” a few places back. However in true Steve Wright style the competition was picked apart and in the end it was “By The Lee” followed by “Tinto” in second. With 8 races sailed the first discard came into play and the finishing positions were starting to take shape with “Stamped Urgent”, “Wildfire” and “Two Dogs” all eyeing out a podium finish.
Race 9 and it was “By The Lee” first at the top mark however this was short lived after a massive spinnaker wrap which took a full 3 minutes to come free allowed “Tinto” and “Vice Versa” to sail through. With “By The Lee” going toe to toe with “Tinto” for the entire regatta any placings between the two was huge so in this case it was +2 to “Tinto”.
Race 10 and “By The Lee” had “Tinto” sucking dirty air off the line, however a short tack out to sea and back over to starboard saw “Tinto” cross the fleet which left “By The Lee” wondering what the hell just happened. “Tinto” recorded their second win and once again the gap narrowed by a further 2 points with “By The Lee” coming home in 3rd.
With 10 races sailed and the second discard now in place it was a showdown in the last race with just a two point spread between first and second place. A good upwind leg on Race 11 saw “By The Lee” round the top mark first with “Wildfire” hot on their heals. “Tinto” was a bit further back, but again this was short lived. Another less than ideal spinnaker launch saw “Wildfire” sail over “By The Lee”.
With a close eye on “Tinto”, defensive mode kicked in. “Wildfire” extended their lead and the fleet closed in on “By The Lee” with both “Tinto” and “Stamped Urgent” getting past. Provided the gap was no more than 3 placings and a result of 5th or better, “By The Lee” was okay.
The next thing I saw was “Tinto” doing a gybe upwind which I later understood was as a result of contact being made with “Stamped Urgent”. With a generous port lift, “By The Lee” crossed ahead of “Stamped Urgent” and as a result of the penalty, “Tinto” was back in 6th.
At the end it was “Wildfire” recording their second win, “By The Lee” coming home in second place and securing the championship with “Stamped Urgent” crossing the line in 3rd which also resulted in being awarded 3rd overall by one point over “Wildfire”. A very consistent effort across the 11 races saw “Tinto” drop their 6th place finishing second just 3 points behind “By The Lee”.
And so it was onto to the prize giving with a traditional dinner overlooking the beautiful North Haven Marina. The last few bottles of Rosé were handed out and the winner of the Genoa was awarded to Jack Fullerton on “Two Dogs” who sailed an excellent regatta finishing 5th overall, just five points off the podium.
After 7 attempts, it was Brendan Lee, Rory Groves, Dan Cave, Peter Lee and Keren Reynolds on “By The Lee” picking up their first National Championships.
In usual J24 style, the night went on with plenty of laughter and cheer. The 2019 championships was a great success. A special thank you to the CYCSA, J24 SA organisers and volunteers and to the sponsors “Dog Ridge Wines” and “Loong Sails” for their support.
We look forward to seeing you at the Victorian Championships regatta in Victoria being held on the 30th and 31st of March 2019.”
Thanks to Brendan Lee for his story.
If you would like to contribute a story about the Nationals or pictures, please send it to me so I can publish it for you.