วันเสาร์ที่ 24 มกราคม พ.ศ. 2552

Sports Boat ASBA National Championship underway at Geelong

After their first two races were cancelled due to strong winds, the Bundaberg Sports Boat ASBA National Championship fleet was eager to get out on the water today. Flat water and blue skies heralded a promising start to day two, helped by a steady 8-10k easterly breeze which held true for most of the afternoon.

With 21 entrants representing every state in Australia, the quality of the Skandia Geelong Week sports boat competition is high. Reigning Bundaberg Sports Boat champion Chris Williams has sold his winning Thompson 7 Team GUE and is 'hitching a ride' this year in Geelong steering John Williams’ T 7 Salsa Lou, the renamed former Geelong Week winner Foam Fast.

Airlie Beach regatta winner Graham Sherring’s Quantum Sails is another hot favourite for this years’ title and Heath Townsend from Dunsborough in Western Australia has been lured back once again, this time racing What Tha, a Melges 24 One Design. Another well-travelled Melges OD is Heath Walters’ Mako Melges from Sydney and Perth sports boat stalwart Steve Battley returns to Geelong for the fourth time.

Former Geelong Week sports boat champion Paul Heyes will crew for Greg Scherwinski on the T7 Ronstan/Ray White, a boat which is literally straight out of the moulds and racing for the first time. Another former winner at Geelong and former National sports boat champion is Julian Newton from Adelaide and his Elliot Espx Game Over and local skipper Cam Rae, well-used to racing on Corio Bay with his Bendigo Private crew, could also feature on the podium when the 8-race series is complete.

Interesting boats in the fleet this year include Top Gear from Tasmania. Royce Salter has completed a magnificent restoration of an insurance write-off which is attracting a lot of attention dockside, along with the distinctive red Bohica from South Australia. Most of the sports boats will follow the eye-catching and extremely quick Bethwaite 8 Vivace around the track. Noel Leigh-Smith and his crew are fresh from their success at the recent Sports Boat Sunday regatta in Brisbane and keen to win, the Australian Sports Boat Association National Championship title along with the famous 'Bundy Blue' Henri Lloyd jackets in Geelong.

Heath Walters’ Mako-Melges took first place on handicap in Race one, edging out John Lloyd’s T7 Salsa Lou with the Egan 6 Quantum Sails from Queensland third. Fourteen seconds separated fourth placed Bendigo Private from the Egan 6 and out of the placings the battle of the T7’s saw Ronstan/Ray White ahead of Bruce Hollis’ Zip and Steve Battley’s Road Warriors. Two Delphia Sport 24’s Splash 1 and 2 enjoyed a great one design battle with only seconds separating the first from the second.

Race two in a slightly lighter breeze saw John Lloyd and Salsa Lou at the top of the list in a lighter breeze with Heath Walters Mako Melges second. Hindered by some crew concerns in race one, Road Warriors sailed far better later in the afternoon to secure third.

A two way tie at the top of the series shows Salsa Lou and Mako-Melges at three points apiece with What Tha snapping at their heels. Three Thompsons locked together ten points away from the leaders will set the scene for another great day of Sports Boat action at Geelong tomorrow.

วันจันทร์ที่ 19 มกราคม พ.ศ. 2552

Carnage at Australian Etchells Championships

With race 5 held today and the championships at a pivotal stage, a raft of spectator boats now follow the fleets every move.

A pumping sea breeze produced fabulous conditions in the Gulf St Vincent for competitors in the Commonwealth Bank 2009 Australian Etchells Championships, hosted by the Royal SA Yacht Squadron, after yesterday’s extreme heat. Today being the mid-series weigh-in, Bruce Henshall, official weigher said “All boats made weight, though I am a little disappointed with only 35kg being lost from the fleet total of 12,165kg.” Continuing, “They must have re-hydrated well after looking like ‘raisins’ coming off the boats yesterday; go the ‘Coopers Pale Ale!”

With race 5 held today and the championships at a pivotal stage, a raft of spectator boats now follow the fleets every move. Race 5 was held in a classic building sea breeze with lumpy seas of up to 2 metres with ‘a lot of sheep in the paddock’ – whitecaps, and starting breeze of 20knts.
The tide was ebbing with a change mid-race, the race committee set a 2Nm course at 220 degrees. After one general recall the fleet got away, four boats choosing to go out to sea with the fleet heading to the Largs Bay side of the course (left) which had fewer waves. After 10 minutes, a shift favoured the majority of the fleet. At the first mark Ian Johnson – Bananas in Pyjamas, led Alistair Gair – Velsheda (NZL) with Jeanne-Claude Strong – Yandoo XX third and John Bertrand - Triad in fifth, with very little separating the boats.With Etchells fitting into the waves from the Port quarter a sparkling surfing run ensued, with crews relishing the conditions, making huge gains on each wave caught; the battle of the surfers was on.
At the bottom Gair led with Johnson second and a pile of boats splitting both left and right. Bertrand, fifth chose the seaward side, then shortly after tacked onto the favoured left side.

The wind dropped slightly for the second beat, to 18knts and settled to 210 degrees, with the waves taking on more definition and lengthening to about 10m.

From the second turn at the top mark the boats surfed down focusing on getting the waves right.
Gair demonstrated superb technique and pulled out a lead of 1 minute 37 seconds at the second drop, with Johnson second and Bertrand third, again favouring seaward side drop.

With the sea breeze now fully pumping, the wind increased to over 20knts and tested all crews and damage to sails and boats started to take its toll.

The last beat turned into a ‘soldiers’ course with the fleet following Gair to the lay line.
At the gun, Gair led by over 90 seconds, then Johnson with Bertrand a close third to Mark Bradford – Roni and local Chris Pratt – La Vie Dansante.

Gair said “ we had a solid start and followed Skip Lissiman – Bandwagon, got a nice shift so came around the top mark in third, then we were surfing and really enjoying the conditions” continuing he said “this is fantastic just like the ‘Worlds’ in Perth” he said “we will continue plugging away, just fantastic.”

Bertrand commenting on the race, “pretty tough, strong wind, we were happy to get third, very good competition here.” He went on to say “Super to have Ben here, its dovetails nicely with him going to Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup,” when asked if they discussed the America’s cup whilst racing “at night we talk about the America’s Cup, we have reinvented it several times!...”

Jeanne-Claude Strong said, “So exciting, so fast, it’s always great to be so close to such good sailors, a fabulous series” her crew Neville Wittey commenting “you couldn’t get the smile off her face with a mallet!”.

The sea breeze took its toll on sails with repairs to nine boats including mainsail damage to Bertrand’s boat Triad. Avalon quickly retrieved a man overboard.

The series has three races to go and with the gradient breeze likely to support the sea breeze, more drama filled racing action to come.

Two protests have been received not affecting the top three.
Bertrand is on 16pts, Mark Bulka – Critical Balance with 22 and Gair with 23, with one race to drop, Bertrand is closing in, though one slip will be costly.

Sponsors have been quick to jump aboard, recognising the contribution sailing makes to the local community and keen to associate with a healthy outdoor sport. Sponsors include; The Commonwealth Bank, MUSTO, Club Marine Insurance, Coopers Brewery, Jacobs Creek Wines, Kaesler Wines and Aircommand Australia and the Royal SA Yacht Squadron.

Daily race updates and news including video clips will be posted on the website during the Championship, the website includes full details of the event, including Notice of Race (NOR) and a local guide Daily race updates and news including video clips will be posted on the website during the Championship, the website includes full details of the event, including Notice of Race (NOR) and a local guide www.09etchellsaustchamps.org.au