Saturday, December 14, 2013

PACEMAKER Crowned J/24 New South Wales Champ!

J/24 sailing off Sydney (Sydney Harbour, NSW, Australia)- Dave Suda’s faster than a heart-attack team on their new J/24 foiler PACEMAKER retained the NSW State Title for 2013 in a “lightning-plagued” series on Sydney Harbour over the weekend.  Saturday’s racing was severely curtailed by some of Sydney’s biggest lightning storms ever seen. Plus, lots of rain and lack of wind and constant direction changes  meant only two races were held towards the end of the day on Saturday in pretty nice but light conditions.  Sunday was a “glam day” with a 10–16 kts SE breeze and plenty of sunshine- four races were held by the Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club RC team to give a thrilling climax to the weekend (here's one of PACEMAKER's more amazing surfs-up foiling action shots to get in front of the fleet here!).  Here’s Simon Grain’s report:

“Sunday’s racing was close and hard fought from the get go with Sean Kirkjian taking a first on the Saturday and now already fighting for the championship with Dave Suda. Both Kirkjian and Suda were on equal points after Saturday’s racing, however, both were behind Ron Thompson who had a 1st and a 3rd going into Sunday.

This year’s fleet was smaller at a round dozen boats but the depth of the field was strong, with NSW stalwarts John Crawford, Dave West, Chris Lee, and Arthur Crothers all on the water. From Victoria were Dave Suda, Ron Thompson and Simon Grain steering Arthur’s KAOTIC. Doug Watson from SA was also there in EL FIDELDO.  Also rounding out the fleet were STARPAC, NOKOMIS and Brett Hudson crewing for Jeanette Thompson on his own boat WILDFIRE.

J/24 sailing in AustraliaA perfect breeze prevailed during Sunday as we raced across the harbor avoiding each other (most of the time), TP52s, ferries and everyone else on the harbor that day.  Banging corners didn’t seem to work as well this year as there were considerable wind bends and lifts in the middle of the course. Arthur Crothers turned 70 and was presented with a wicked chocolate cake, NOKOMIS swam a crew member in one race and KICKING BOTTOM prepared to call “starboard” on a seaplane— yes, those were just a few of the usual oddities in this regatta!!

As the day progressed it became clear that the regatta might just go back to Dave Suda from Victoria and he and Sean had a personal battle in the last race to decide the honours. In the end Dave retained the crown and Sean came second on a count back from an amazing performance from Ron in KB. Ron also taking out the Thommo Cup from Jeanette on WILDFIRE, although as a consolation she won the handicap section.

Once again the RPEYC venue excelled with sunny skies above the lawn at the waterfront of the club when it counted and lightning shows when it didn’t.  Friendly staff and capable race management meant we were happy both on and off the water. Commodore Sean once again amazingly ran the club (thanks to all the volunteers and staff), the class team (thanks to Paula and Tim), ran the crew ferry and still came second!  What a fantastic place, after years of grumbling, even Herschel loves the place and passed a thought of keeping a summer boat there. Talking about being there, getting there was an event in itself for some with huge storms on the Friday night, Joe Pearson taking nearly 6 hours to get there and making what must be an all time record for Luke Mathews taking 19 hrs to fly to Sydney from Melbourne (via Launceston).

Now is the time to think about a trip to Royal Prince Edwards, as the 2014 Nationals will also be held here in January 4 – 9th. If you want a great place to sail, a great place to relax in between racing, then RPEYC is your summer regatta of choice.”

J/24s sailing in Sydney Harbour, AustraliaThe J/24 STIG also chimed in with their report:  “Once again the foreign invaders triumphed in the NSW J/24 State Titles held at RPEYC (Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club)!  The slick crew work on David Suda’s PACEMAKER came to the fore when the pressure was on in the final races. After drop calculated for the top 3 boats PACEMAKER, SAILPAC and KICKING BOTTOM were equal on 6 points after 4 races, with the ever competitive Chris Lee on VORTEX nipping at their sterns.

Tom Waterhouse had Suda as early race favourite with the betting wide open for the minors. The performance of the weekend came from evergreen veteran Ron Thompson, who once again prized the Thompson Cup from Janette’s grasp.

Nestled amongst the Blue Ribbon Mansions of Double Bay the RPEYC was the idyllic setting for the Ashes on water between the States. The lone representative from Festival State (SA)  and home of the mass murderers (of beer steins) on EL FIDELDO snuck under the radar and had some great results. Once the trough of bad weather brought up by the Victorians cleared we had some fantastic racing. The TP52 sailors next to our track looked on in envy of the tight, competitive and sometimes aggressive nature of J/24 racing made their regatta look like a “kontiki tour” with brolly’s in their drinks.

Once the spray had settled the committee from NSW’s had to accept they would once again be invoiced for trophy engraving by David Suda. A worthy champion with a great crew; however the admiration will soon disappear and sledging begin with the Nationals around the corner.

Thank you everyone who made the huge effort of bringing your boats to the regatta and we hope to see you all in January for the Nationals.  Unfortunately we will not be using Paula’s scales from home at the Nationals so make sure your crew weights are correct.”

If that weren’t enough great perspective, there’s amusing commentary from Ronnie Green about sailing J/24s in Sydney:

“Sydney Harbour on the weekend? Expect the unusual and you will still be surprised!  The J/24s had a great weekend of racing on Sydney Harbour which lived up to its reputation as a venue which tests your heart beat to the maximum.  Great location, spectacular sights and even more unusual things to plan and look out for on the water.

On Saturday we all sat at the magnificent Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club (RPEYC) drinking our Pimms, watching the stream of thunderstorms cross the harbour. Some played pool while others started watching that sledging game on TV.  We were calmly interrupted every 46 minutes by an announcement from Sean that a decision on sailing is imminent, don’t go away and just wait for the next 30 minutes.   The wind kept blowing from the north, no … south east, no … north east, no … east, changing every 5 minutes from 6 knots to nothing.  After about our 10th bottle of Pimms, suddenly there was a gap in the thunderstorms and guess what, we are all on the water sailing out to the start line.  Only the wind died again, sails dropped and engines came out again.  Decision to sail to be made at 3pm and at 2:55pm KB was seen circling the committee boat desperate to get back to watching that sledging game and the 11th bottle of Pimms.  No … the wind arrived from the North and low and behold we are off.

RPEYC has unique rounding marks being the colour red, which is fantastic as every other mark laid on the Harbour is yellow.  You can imagine the mess as there are a few races being sailed at the same time.  The top mark was laid 0.6 km upwind (important fact to remember).  The fleet took off and everyone went left eyes searching the harbour for something red.  Yes, I see two red marks near South Head amongst the 20 other yellow marks and KB tacked as they appear to be near the east side of the harbour.  ‘That’s the longest 0.6km I have seen,’ was yelled from the back of the boat, ‘there must be others.’  Yes, was the answer and there is another red mark but only one.  ‘Well find the other one was the answer.’   Suddenly, a fishing boat moved and the second red mark was found right in front of our position.  Don’t point!! Just keep quiet as ACE and us are the only ones who know. I call it brilliant tactics – my sister called it something else starting with something like ‘b.s.’

Next lap we were out in front, rounded the top mark, put up the kite brilliantly, and found ourselves right under a 50ft yawl with a mast head spinnaker.  Had to quickly gybe away and our competitor quietly went to windward.  Who was supposed to looking out for this was the yell again from the back of the boat.  Answer – YOU.  Kept quiet then.  We had to do some deft maneuvers to stay in front.

Sunday was a fun day as all the fleets came out including the TP52s who started next to us and sailed across our course.  Lovely.  I remember completing a tack to lay the top mark when the bow sprit of a TP52 just passed behind us travelling at 10 times our speed!  Just about had me a heart attack!

Race number four, the top marks were laid just south of Shark Island.  We were flying, chasing Sean and the breeze was a bit tricky near the rounding mark.  Suddenly there was a call to watch out for the plane, so I cast my eyes skywards thinking there was a low flying sea-plane about to land.  Silly me, no the plane was right in front of us about to take off!!  You have to learn to expect the unexpected on Sydney Harbour.  Fortunately it moved so no harm done except to the heart- again!

On one downwind leg there were four boats charging to the port rounding mark to go south on starboard so we went to the starboard mark to head up the middle on port.  Suddenly, there was a call for a ferry rounding Bradley’s head.  A quick look up checking our VMG against the speed of the Manly Ferry (about 20 knots) indicated if we don’t look and keep our eyes closed we should make it across.  What a fantastic feeling as we tacked to starboard to see us windward of the ferry and the rest of the fleet behind it.  I thought this was brilliant sailing but my sister said something like ‘b.s.’ again!  Her vocabulary is not very good. Or, perhaps she IS smarter than me (the debate will rage forever)!  The excitement only was short lived as that bloke Sean came from behind the ferry and crossed us and then I said ‘b.s.’ again.

The race committee decided we should go for a picnic on Shark Island, as they laid the top mark close enough to visit.  One time we tacked to lay the mark easily. Learnt lessons from the past, when suddenly the genoa backed as the wind changed 90 degrees on us.  We tacked only to see NOKOMIS coming at us on starboard.  A bit of yelling and screaming but thanks to a great effort from the crew we made it around without putting more green paint on the opposition boats.

Overall on behalf of the crew of KB, a “huge thank you” to the officials and management of RPEYC for a great regatta, brilliant venue and magnificent support crews taking us to and from our mooring, one even gave us a tourist lecture of the houses in the Bay.  I look forward to January when the Harbour will be clear and at its best.”  For more J/24 NSW Championship sailing information in Sydney Harbour