Australian Nationals 2017

The 2017 Australian RC Association held Nationals for 4 classes early February over a 2-week period, classes being 10 Raters, Marblehead’s, IOM’s and RC95 all were sailed at Kogarah Bay RC sailing club. Kogarah Bay is a 500-acre tidal finger off the much larger Botany Bay in south Sydney, it’s a bay of about 2 kms in length and 900 mtrs wide with the sailing club at a middle point on the southern shore, the club has good facilities with a floating jet as the bay is tidal with a fall of around 1.5 mtrs.

Team NZ arrived with a day to spare, we all sailed that evening to get a feel for the weed, waves and locals, Team NZ being Ian Vickers and a support crew of 4 others (John OBrien, Ants Hurdley, Philip Pryde all Auckland, and the souths Bruce Edgar)

Day 1:   measure boats, weigh keels and all 3 rigs, check all sails were certified etc., this was well run, quick with plenty of jigs and assistance.

So, to the racing, with 50 entries they opted for 4 fleets, a light air (N01 rig) seeding race was first up, and from there the 4 fleets set, racing began with race 1 “D” fleet, using a 4 up 4 down model it took a good hour for all 4 fleets to race each race. End of day 1 we had 4 races ending on “B” rigs, Ian had a good day (2,1,2,3) and lead the regatta, the rest had mixed results with your luckless correspondent having 3 DNFs including a run over by the patrol boat, unperturbed we went to the pub to plan day 2.

Day 2: Light airs greeted again with a heap of weed on the surface, racing delayed as the tide ebbed with some of the weed and the wind built, still with the 4 fleets we sailed a further 5 races in what was long day, Ian held his overnight lead and grew the margin with a (2,14, 1 8,2) , the rest of us battled up and down the fleets in 38 degrees of heat, it was a tough day for all. Interesting a lot of Aussie boats had quite flat sales and with the small chop they seemed to lack power while pointing about the same, the best of the Aussies at this stage was local Scott Condie, sailing a very nice Brit Pop, Scott was the most engaging helpful person, with time for everybody, I am sure his personal generosity compromised his overall regatta, but we enjoyed and thanked him, back to the Pub for debrief and planning for Day 3.

Day 3:  The day dawned with weather warnings of 40+ degrees, (and it was) once again weed and no wind greeted us, today they compressed the fleets into just the 3 to speed up the racing, while we waited we killed some time sweating and drinking so we could sweat some more. When sailing got under way after lunch, we were in light A rig conditions with the course heading straight out, this was not easy as the beat was 100 mtrs and eye sight was tested to the max, Ian  had his issues with weed and jelly fishes, the rest of us battled on with the same as we progressed up and down the fleet,  Ian held on well with a (2,13,2,10, 3) day, and at this point had the regatta in the bag, a fact not missed by our Aussie hosts who were more than complimentary, at this point your correspondent and fellow also-rans were dying of thirst, so emergency rush to the PUB for no other reason.

Day 4: With more heat came the promise of wind, we kicked off in A rig then quickly to B rig and by race 4 we were in 30 knots of southerly and C rig conditions, waves of about 1 metre, breaking. The V10 was by this stage really smoking with race 18 in “A fleet” seeing V10 1st 2nd and 3rd (correspondent jagging a win) it was a great sight seeing IOM’s jumping through the waves and absolutely flying off waves as they flew down hill, once again something our Aussie hosts were very quick to notice, there were about 100 folks watching these heavy air races and they were impressed with the NZ boats. So, Ian won, not just won, but won handsomely he was masterful in all conditions all rigs, it was a great display of high quality RC sailing, team mates battled to the end in mid fleet proving yet again any mug can win “its toughest in the middle” Second overall was Ross Bennett from Perth in a V10 and 3rd Kirwan Robb “Brit Pop” 4th was Scott Codie and 5th Paul Jones in a Kantun.


Summary:   This was a well organised, well run event, the Australian RC community are doing a great job, good people, good structure, good leadership, and lots of willing helpers. It was a happy fun contest, I hardly saw a cross word, it’s a credit to all who attended, I for one will be back next year in Hobart.

We can learn a lot form the Aussies, further more they are keen to share their knowledge, their regatta, documents, and their best practise documents. They are keen to come to NZ just as soon as we can demonstrate we have suitable venues and infrastructure which could be as soon as the Nationals 2018.

We in NZ are defiantly on the right track re boats, set ups and our sail design, as with our sailing style, we were all quick enough, what we need here now is bigger fleets and better regattas to get some fineness and polish into skill sets.

We discussed the idea of establishing an Interdominion series in common classes on a two-yearly cycle which had a lot of support, more on this soon.


Happy Days and do your turns

Philip Pryde