The Legends Regatta was born out of an idea from Peter Stevens early last year and it was decided to run it in NSW due to the larger amount of boats and Legends residing there and last weekend saw the culmination of a massive amount of work to make this event happen.
The Gosford weekend was a huge success for the class and I want to thank the members of the NSW Association that put in such a huge effort to make this all happen. The result is a real credit to the vision and hard work of Terry Wise, Arthur Crothers and Paula Shires-Clarke who were the main drivers of this event, I know personally that Paula has lived and breathed this event for the last 6 months, working tirelessly to make it all a success. Many others were involved and I wish to thank them for their effort also especially Tim Briggs for his support in offering sponsorship and help with the legends venue. Thanks must go to all the sponsors small and large that offered their help with the regatta, with around $50,000 worth of sponsorship this surely rank as the most amazing event of recent times within the class and indeed within yachting in Australia. Thanks to Gosford Sailing Club for running the regatta and to Graeme Watt and his wife Margo who came from Melbourne to bring their considerable experience as international fleet race officers to run the racing. And finally a huge thank you to all the competitors and Legends who came and made this the most exciting J24 event in recent Australian sailing history.
Sailing on the flat waters of Brisbane Water was a delight (being used to Port Phillip chop), but it was tough with varying wind strengths and directions and the hottest and largest ‘national’ fleet seen in Australia for many years. The quality of the fleet was impressive and I know that there were a few that found and the level and the workload difficult if not scary. It does however remind us that there are levels of sailing competition far above even this weekend – just ask anyone who has done a worlds!
I asked the race winners (and others) to comment on the NSW States and Legends Regatta for the benefit of those who didn’t go or were just wondering how they did it. Here are comments from them on their perspective. If you were there and would like to add your thoughts to this please email me with your comments. Simon Grain, with the Pres Hat on.
Here is a lot of comments – but read it all – every word is a gem – especially Peter Stevens’ story of grit and determination to be there.
David Suda (Pacemaker)
I have to say that it took us a while to get going on the weekend among tough competition and even tougher conditions on the Saturday.
We managed to hang in there on Saturday with consistent results in trying conditions, and we were pleased to be in third over night.
It all came together on Sunday after a full day to get a handle on the place, and we had our chance in all four races on Sunday.
In the fifth race early on Sunday we got bounced right shortly after the start and liked the look of the right hand side based on what happened on Saturday.
Despite the majority of the fleet heading left up the first work, we continued right and luckily it paid as we lead around the top mark.
The course was shortened at the bottom of the run and Wiittey showed his match racing prowess to gain starboard advantage and edge in front at the finish.
Three way match race in the sixth race between Girdis, Wallis and ourselves was awesome racing. Lead changes on ever leg but Wallis grabbed control towards the end.
We won the final two heats, race seven and eight in probably the best conditions of the weekend. We had a strong start in the seventh and headed up the middle in good pressure, our boat speed helped maintain our lane and we rounded third at the first mark. A good run and then we went left again at the bottom while the leaders and boats just behind went around the right gate. Our decision to split left paid off and we grabbed the lead and maintained it till the finish.
In the final race the breeze swung 20 degrees left with a minute to go and we had a good start at the pin end, then tacked immediately to cross the fleet and lead to the first mark.
We rounded the left hand gate at the bottom and headed up the left side again with Wallis right behind and tacked on the port lay line.
Two tack beat and the breeze was still in the left, so we had a run straight to the finish.
Great days sailing!
David Lamb (Fun)
My thoughts as a first timer, it was great, well organised, a great intro to racing the J24’s with a great bunch of people, especially the Make My Jay crew. The venue was good, the prizes and presentation night all well organised, and I look forward in competing again knowing there is plenty of room for improvement for my crew.
Hugo Ottaway (Vice Versa)
Terry along with committee members Arthur Crothers and Paula Shires-Clarke, worked hard to hold the NSW State Titles along with the Legends Regatta, this encouraged the owners to make an effort and saw two South Australian, five Victorian and twenty NSW boats make one of the strongest fleets seen in this the classes 31st year in Australia.
The wind was light to moderate for the three days of racing, and mainly from a North Easterly direction. Capitalizing on these conditions was Current Australian Champion Sean Wallis from South Australia who won three races and the 2010 NSW State Title, second was Victorian David Suda and third NSW Veteran John Crawford.
The Legends Regatta on day three saw 18 past Australian Champions, including Andrew Hunn from Tasmania who won the first Australian Title and Mark Bethwaite who won the only World Championship for Australia. Two races were held in memorial of two Australian Champions Ian Bashford and Andrew Short who have since passed.
Class President Simon Grain from Victoria won the Andrew Short Memorial Trophy, Neville Wittey won the Ian Bashford memorial trophy.
Regatta highlights, or things of note were:
1: Pete Stevens who drove his J 1000 kilometres from South Australia to Gosford, single handed, blowing two tires, a rim and ripping a break cable, luckily missing a truck.
2: David Suda who was last to arrive, and first to leave.
3: Luke Mathews, who despite having a horror road crash on his bike two months ago managed to sail nearly winning the regatta.
4: Alister Morrison came over from New Zealand and put Bruschetta back in the water.
5: 18 owners who handed the boats over to the Legends to compete in the Bashford and Short memorial races.
6: Five legends who piled up on the top mark.
7: Bob Hagen who put together his original crew making a total of 350+ years combined age.
8: The awesome speed from Ron Thompson’s 25 + year old Kicking Bottom.
9: Simon Grain sailing 4 up and bobbed up all over the place.
10: Bob Hagen who hit most of the boats in the fleet.
11: No Protests.
12: One OCS, me.
13: 7 boats who never made the finish line in race 4.
14: Great Regatta management from Graham Watt and the Gosford Sailing Club.
15: Paula Shires-Clarke who split her foot, never complained during the race, but needed 4 stitches afterwards.
Highlights of the Legends Dinner:
1: Terry Wise and his team who put on a video and award ceremony.
2: The amazing array of Sponsor products including UVEX sunglasses for every competitor.
3: The amount of past J sailors who came for the Dinner from every state that sails J’s in Australia.
4: Paula Shires- Clarke awarded the 2010 NSW Women on Water Trophy.
5: The huge amount of work to make a night like this work.
Simon Grain (Make My Jay)
Winning the Andrew Short Memorial Trophy was a real highlight for my crew. We didn’t have a very good Saturday with us never seeming to be in phase with the shifty winds near the top mark and losing lots of places because of that. Sunday was better for us and we had our two best race finishes up till then – both being the only races we sailed with the jib. Point being that the 5th crew member didn’t eventuate and we were sailing the regatta 4 up at only 320 kg.
So how did we get our win? On the Monday we had lost Martin our trimmer as he had to go back to a new job but we gained Arthur Crothers and Joelle Roderick from Melbourne. We came out of the blocks pretty well near the pin end and went left up the first beat on a gradual lift so that we were well placed for the tack across to the top mark. At this point the wind went a bit left and we were able to come in pretty hot getting to the first mark first. Unfortunately the cam on the genoa sheet didn’t come off cleanly and we were blown back onto the top mark. I managed to pull off a 360 before the hitch mark by going deep although it was touch and go. We were around 4th or 5th down the run but hung in with the new North Kite which is very fast.
Round the bottom mark and this time out to the right as I felt that the wind was going to swing right and come in a little stronger from there. Hugo and another also had the same idea but didn’t sail far enough into it and we went about another 200m further and picked up more breeze and about a 30 deg lift right up to the mark, enabling us to round first again. Nev Wittey was right on our tail all the same as he had come up the left side and done well. He and a couple of others attacked us down the run pushing us out to the (downhill) right which I didn’t want to go with. I had seen a breeze line going down the middle so we gybed away and initially lost ground but eventually got to the breeze, gybed over and accelerated to the finish getting through Nev by about 5 boat lengths in the end.
Sean Wallis (Lunatic Asylum – Hi)
We knew with so many boats and such a high level of competition that we would need a good result to start the regatta. Kirj (Sean Kirkjian) had a good lead early on but we managed to close some ground on him on the final work having picked some pressure from the right side of the course. At the windward mark the final time Kirj was only a couple of boat lengths ahead and set his kite and continued to the left side of the course downwind, we jibed and went to the right and picked up some more pressure to enable us to pass him downwind and cross the line a few boat lengths ahead.
As in race 1 we were still getting pressure from the right side of the course, about 150m from the windward mark we had Kirj and Chris Lee sailing Vortex cross us but we continued to the right. When we converged at the top mark we rounded a couple of boat lengths ahead of Kirj, we jibed again at the top mark and sailed to the right as the wind shifted about 30 degrees downwind it took us straight to the leeward mark after which it became a soldiers course to the finish.
Peter Stevens (Code Violation)
The legends regatta idea was floated around a year ago, and the venue decision was agreed on as Gosford. It was decided to run the regatta in conjunction with the NSW states.
I planned with my team to participate in the regatta last year and had my team organised.
What a difference a year makes, my trimmer tore a tendon in his shoulder – out. Bow spent 3 months overseas – out, this left pit, a week before the regatta there had been a barrister court case – out.
This left me with a problem, go or not to go. Can’t miss out on the who’s who regatta of the decade. Rang Alyn, You steer I will trim.
2 of us so far. Got onto Paula, need urgent help, got no crew need 2 ASAP,
This is 2 weeks before the regatta.
A reply comes back found one person for you, so signed up Geoff, back to Paula need another. A couple of days later email comes in got you another crew Lorna. Excellent we have 4 so we are going.
Alyn’s working on Friday, no other driver, so I set out solo on Thursday morning for the long drive to Sydney with a thermos full of double strength coffee.
Heading for Renmark, no drama’s, then I see half a casing from the front RH trailer tyre spin off the rim, pull into a road layoff luckily flat and sealed. Get to work changing the tyre, Tyre wrench doesn’t fit from the 4WD, jack handle end fitting missing.
What should have taken 10 mins, takes me a hour. Fortunately had a set of spanners and got the wheel off and jacking the thing up was slow. All fixed back on the road again.
Aiming for Wagga, its 10 pm want to get there before the pub closes. 30 kms out of wagga a B-double is right up my hammer next minute he backs off, big vibration through the truck, pitch black, middle of no where, see dirt and crap flying off the left hand side. Pull over on the side off the road, in grass.
Holly shit, tyre has gone, rim has gone, just a bit of rim still bolted on the brake drum.
This is bad. I find the torch, I try to get the jack underneath the trailer – no room, have to dig a hole with the back end of a adjustable spanner, finally get the jack under, try to jack it up very slow, too much weight … too tired, too late …
Decide to unhitch the boat and drive into Wagga. Go to the pub and grab a beer and book a room.
Talk to Sean who is 4 hours behind me. Broken down, need help, boat is 25-30 Km’s out of Wagga, Give me a call when you are 40 out.
Go the bed and around 3.30 get the call, we are 10 mins away. Drive out to the boat.
Billy is there with a 500 kg trolley jack and we jack to boat up with 2 jacks, get the wheel on. Break the jack!
Notice the brake line is broken, no fluid, no brakes. Drive to Wagga ….
Room has 3 beds so we all go off to sleep.
Up at 7.30 down to Bob Jane’s for a new tyre. Replace with 2 new tyres, Need a brake place, just down the road mate. Go to Repco buy 2 new 1650 kgs trolley jacks one 4 sean and one 4 me and a universal tyre spanner.
Drop the boat in, how long ….. around 2 hours, so had to wait. In true Top Gear support style, Sean and Billy take off and I wait.
We fix one side go to bleed the system, and bugger me the other side is busted too, probably never had brakes on this baby.
Finally on the road again. Charging up the freeway and pulled over by a women in a 4 wheel drive. You lost your spare wheel mate on the freeway. Where is it? About a km down the track.
Can’t turn around so just go.
The above story show’s that you need to be prepared and take a good jack,
Make sure your tyre spanner fits the trailer wheels, take torch too and check brakes.
Got to Sydney at 3.30 – just in time for peak hour, luckily had a GPS which put me in the right direction. Shit I hate driving a J in Sydney traffic. Took it easy almost had 2 crashes but made it to Gosford in one piece.
What a relief.
The team arrives Saturday morning and we are still looking for one more person, as luck has it Murray arrives – you guys looking for a crew? – yes mate …. what’s your weight? We are close and re-weigh in so close – 399.99 kgs.
What a great weekend. Great racing, Great Crew, Great Venue, Great Presentation night, Great Legends Regatta.
Don’t need to say anymore but thanks to everyone including my crew for the best weekend. Pete.