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50th Nationals Report

Posted by Rik on February 4, 2016 at 9:35 AM

50th Australian Mirror Championships Report Freshwater Bay was filled with red sails and colourful spinnakers between 28th December 2015 and 3rd January 2016. RFBYC has been home to the State’s strongest fleet of Mirror dinghies for more than a decade so was the obvious choice to host the class’s auspicious 50th Australian Championships. The event attracted 28 entries including one boat and eleven sailors from NSW and a team from SA (not South Australia, but South Africa!) giving an international flavour to our Nationals. The full range of conditions, from fresh sea breezes to drifting, were experienced over fifteen races. RFBYC was well represented by thirteen boats across all divisions from Junior (U16), Youth (U19), Family (Parent-Child), Cruiserweight (130kg and over), Lady Skipper and all female combinations.

Staking an early claim by winning the invitation race were former State Champion helm Liam Wilson and crew Alexandra Thornton (an accomplished helm in her own right) sailing “Transom Note”. These two fit young adults found their cruiserweight was no disadvantage in the fresh breeze. Although they had only been sailing together for a few months their combined experience and form was looking ominous as they went on to also win Races 1 & 2. However several challengers soon emerged; Sydneysiders Gavin Cooke and son Oliver on “Lightning Strike” posted two seconds on the first day. Tara Wilson’s purple boat “Jazze” was the only boat to cross the Nullabor making her way on a truck in a ply box purpose built by husband Bryan. Together with crew Kirsten Johansen the girls made a great start to the regatta with a 3-3-4 scorecard on the first day. RFBYC father and son team, Simon and Tyson Barwood sailing “Bulletproof” won Races 3 & 4. RFBYC youth team of Ethan Prieto-Low and James Stout sailing “Just Do It” were sailing consistently and improving with each race. In a fight with “Transom Note” for the lead late in Race 5, Liam and Alex capsized allowing “Just Do It” to record an easy win. “Bulletproof” finished second but “Transom Note” was slow to recover and scored a 20th. Liam and Alex regained their composure and winning form for Race 6 and with a drop now in play finished Day 2 as regatta leaders on countback tied with “Bulletproof” on 10 points each, the boys on “Just Do It” were only 4 points behind in third. Moderate conditions on Day 3 saw some different boats at the front of the fleet. Dunsborough father and daughter Richard and Matilda Rowell on “barnacle Blues” won Race 7. NSW father-son team Douglas and Myles Raftesath sailing “Sandy” improving each race, consecutive seconds and then a bullet in Race 10 moving them up to third overall. “Transom Note” had another minor disaster in the same race when they capsized and finished 10th but with two drops now in play their consistency earlier in the day saw them fall to second overall but only by one point.

The forecast for the final day wasn’t looking promising so four races were expected on Day 4. In the light to moderate morning conditions Douglas and Myles continued their winning form in Race 11 with “Transom Note” finishing second and “Just Do It” third. “Bulletproof” had their worst race, working back through the fleet for a 7th and then repeated the same result in Race 12 after the lunch break. With a seabreeze building over Saturday afternoon and the regatta theirs to win Liam and Alex were clinical, executing three straight wins by comfortable margins. They were staying dry, had “Transom Note” sailing high and in phase upwind and were devastatingly fast on the reaches. “Just Do It” also enjoyed the strengthening breeze and had a consistent afternoon with all top three finishes to complete the day only one point from third place. With just one race left to sail on Day 5 a change at the lead was a mathematically possibility, but highly improbable. The equation required “Bulletproof” to win and “Transom Note” to finish 10th or worse. The conditions also seemed to favour “Sandy” over “Just Do It” in the contest for third place with the moderate Easterly expected to fade. The South African mother-daughter team of Sigi and Tamryn sailing “On The Wall” were early leaders in Race 15, and they held that advantage at the rounding for the last beat to the shortened course finish line at the windward mark. Local father-daughter Alex and Charlotte O’Beirne on “Leading Edge IV” were in hot pursuit with “Bulletproof” third and “Transom Note” fourth. The result seemed inevitable but “On The Wall” had gone a long way left when “Bulletproof” tacked away from what had been the favoured side all morning. “Transom Note” was conservatively covering from behind when the wind started to die. “Bulletproof” crossed the line just before calm descended on the fleet. After a few minutes some wind reappeared from the left bringing “On The Wall” home in second and then “Just Do It” in third and enough places ahead of “Sandy” to claim third place overall. Then the boats on the port tack layline began moving. “Transom Note” sat agonizingly becalmed as boat after boat crossed the finish line. Liam and Alex’s family and supporters on the water couldn’t bear to watch as they lost place after place and then finally, they found enough wind to cross the line in 8th and win the regatta by one point.

At presentations class stalwart and RFBYC fleet coach Geoff Wilson was awarded the Bill Jaffray Memorial Trophy for his services to the Mirror class in Australia to a standing ovation. The citations of Geoff’s achievements in and contribution to the class over more than a decade took as many minutes to read. The timing was impeccable as Geoff had just relinquished the National Measurer’s role he had held for many years. Liam and Alex received a hometown heroes reception when presented the National Champions trophy. They had won seven races and been the better sailors over five days by more than the net scores suggested. Simon and Tyson and Ethan and James rounded out a full podium for WA and RFBYC. The Mirror Dinghy occupies a unique niche as an international family class, remarkably six of the top eight places were held by parent-child combinations. The class also enjoys a great diversity of participants as demonstrated by the age range of sailors, from 7yrs to over 70yrs, in this regatta.

Trophies were awarded to; Open Championship/National Champions “Transom Note” Liam Wilson & Alex Thornton (RFBYC – WA) 2nd Place Overall “Bulletproof” Simon & Tyson Barwood (RFBYC – WA) 3rd Place Overall “Just Do It” Ethan Prieto-Low & James Stout (RFBYC – WA) Cliff Scott Invitation Race “Transom Note” Liam Wilson & Alex Thornton (RFBYC – WA) Junior (U16) Championship “Lollyhead” Charlotte Raftesath & Rosie Rowell (BSC – NSW/DBYC – WA) Youth (U19) Championship “Just Do It” Ethan Prieto-Low & James Stout (RFBYC – WA) Ladies Championship “Jazze” Tara Wilson & Kirsten Johansen (HHSC – NSW) Veteran’s Championship “Sandy” Douglas & Myles Raftesath (BSC – NSW) Norm Deane Master’s Trophy “Maglia Rosa” Stan & Diane Bland (WSC - NSW) Frank Buxton (Family) Trophy “Bulletproof” Simon & Tyson Barwood (RFBYC – WA) Cruiserweight Championship “Barnacle Blues” Richard & Matilda Rowell (DBYC – WA) Classic (Gaff Rigged) Division “Turbo” Terry Gaunt & Dylan Holthouse (MYC – WA) Encouragement Award “Knot Too Risky” – Zavier Riches & Codi Cook Many thanks to RFBYC for hosting a wonderful regatta. Special thanks to Jenn Suffield, John Taylor, Geoff Brown, Geoff Wilson and each of the many volunteers for making the event possible.

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