International J/24 Class Association

The what ifs, if onlys and couldabeens of the Victorian State Titles

April 23, 2015

Thank you to Simon Grain for the following story: Without taking anything away from the excellent Nationals in Adelaide earlier in the year, the Vic States have been warming up to be the real contest of the year. And so it was.

The Black Prince of Sandringham took it from the “Young” Sydney Fox with the Canny Scott third.

What that means is Dave Suda (VIC) 1st, Steve Girdis (NSW) 2nd and Doug Watson (SA) 3rd.

Performance handicap was won by Dave MacKay from Cronulla, our own Stephanie Strong took out second in the Sidetracked youth boat and Steve Girdis was third. Hugo Ottaway, the real Mr J24 and deep thinking scribe takes on the finer details.

“This year’s 2015 Victorian J24 Championship may be remembered by the “could have been champions” as a regatta of lost opportunity. Despite only achieving 4 races due to a 40+ knot squally Sunday, the championship reached a milestone in Australian J24 sailing. Of note is the following: starting at the top, 27 entries including every J24 at Sandringham Yacht Club, 6 entries from NSW and 4 from S.A. Oldest skipper 70+ youngest 23. Two youth boats, four female skippers, two all female crews. A Jury and Race management of National and International standing and possibly up to 50% female participation.”

There many hard luck stories in any fleet, probably about 26 of them in this regatta! But look who we are up against. Hugo continues …

“To ease the pain of the masses, the calibre of the leading bunch reads like a who’s who of sailing. Our winner, David Suda sailing Pacemaker from Victoria has won two J/24 and one International cadet National titles. Second, Steve Girdis (NSW), three J/24 National titles and 5th in the Osaka worlds. Third, Doug Watson (SA) 2nd in the J24 Nationals and 4th in the Sigma 33 Europeans. Fourth Hugo Ottaway (VIC) one J24 and one International Cadet National title, then fifth God himself, David McKay (NSW) one 16 foot skiff and two Moth WORLD TITLES, one J24 , Etchell 22 and 18 foot Skiff National title and 1969 Yachtsman of the year award. Sixth, Simon Grain (VIC) four New Zealand Tornado Catamaran National titles.”

“I am sure as I go down the list there are many others amongst us who also boast similar achievements, however we very rarely acknowledge the pedigree of fellow sailors, to win either a state or national J24 title is tough, hard to come by and first rate.”

So what are the hard luck stories, well the first would be the whole regatta with the sailing on Sunday closed down. That meant we had a series, but no drop and there were many who needed it – badly. Myself for one, going left nicely all day and then going right in the last race – wrong! John Neville, our hard working Vice Pres who has been sailing like a demon all summer, last seen burying his head in a beer in despair after scoring the unlikely bottom double. Next time John! Half the fleet overlaying the top mark in the first race! Holes in the wind in the second race that left the top boats wallowing in nothing within spitting distance of the finish line while boats behind them sailed by – spitting chips maybe! And from Hugo, “finally the best gag of all, watching the class president start at full speed one minute early on a black flag, with no one else around….. great stuff.”

I could go on, but one of our newest owners does, Mike Bond shares his experiences:

“The J24 Vic States had been on the agenda for 6 weeks and we were all very keen to participate after having bought Code Violation. We had only been out once or twice as a team so things were going to be interesting come the first race. In true beginner style we missed the first race completely due to poor clock work. I took the blame for that one as I was the only one wearing watch. The second race was our best of the series and I do believe we were coming 7th around the top mark however we ended up 14th with some poor kite work and some bad tacks. The third race wasn’t great either, we had a good start but just couldn’t maintain boat speed. The last race we came dead last which in the end was quite amusing. We took the wrong side of the course (behind Simon) and got blitzed. All in all, it was great fun and we were a bit disappointed we couldn’t sail on the Sunday due to poor weather conditions but after the 2nd beer we were fine. Special thanks to Simon Grain and the crew on Jet for all their help as well as Hugo Ottaway and David Suda.” That’s the kind of fun the newest guys are having.

The conditions were great sailing for the first two races with a westerly around 12 knots, boats powered up on genoas and the race track full of boats. After the second race the wind died, the sun came out and lunch was served with sails down while we drifted in the tide waiting for wind. The last two races were held in a sputtering and dying westerly as we watched a black roll cloud gather it’s skirts on the southern horizon. The fleet finished and just made it back to the marina as a 40+knot front blew through minutes later!

Back in the bar, we were very lucky to be able to watch our if only’s on the Yachtbot site – no consolation to some, but very interesting for most. YachtBot and CYCSA had been stupendously generous to us both in terms of their time and resources (CYCSA loaning us the trackers for nix and YachtBot set us up as a Pro level registration for free also) If you want to see more or the racing replay, go to www.yacht-bot.com and choose a race, or link directly to the races at www.yacht-bot.com/races/6958 to 6961. Our thanks go out to all our sponsors, Monjon Security in particular for your continued support again this year, Sailor Sunscreen and Iguana Design. To all our volunteers both on the class committee and SYC, a big thank you for your efforts.

Also a huge thank you to all the interstate competitors who made the effort to come to the regatta, your contribution to our fleet makes the difference to the flavour of the competition.

Hugo wraps up a few more stats to finish “Other points to note, three different brands of sails in the top five, both youth boats supplied with new and almost new sails courtesy of their owners, about 25 new sails measured in for the regatta. 135 competitors from 4 states. What I think makes this a great class is the generosity of the members, $800.00 raised during the regatta to help Luke Mathews (Trimmer off Pacemaker) and his family who is recovering from a very bad road accident.”

The class BBQ and free beers, as always pulls everyone together after the racing and enjoyably the stage show that is the prize giving, with a forthright intro speech by the irrepressible Doug MacGregor (VicPres) and the brilliant John Neville doing the raffle draw had everyone in stitches and rounded off a great, if short regatta for both the locals and the visitors – you should have been there if you weren’t !

We don’t say goodbye to our interstate friends for too long, the next regatta is the Macquart Marine Short Course Regatta at Cronulla in NSW on Queens Birthday long weekend, 6-8 June this year. This was brilliant last year (see pics on the CSC site). The NSW States normally held in early November (dates TBA) and then the 2015-16 season biggie, the Nationals at Sandringham on the 4-8 January 2016, where we planning a regatta to attract a fleet of over 30 boats – this one you do not want to miss!

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