• High speed rides at the SA Summer of Sail. Photo Elise Dalmaso.
    High speed rides at the SA Summer of Sail. Photo Elise Dalmaso.
  • Tough conditions at the SA Summer of Sail. Photo Elise Dalmaso.
    Tough conditions at the SA Summer of Sail. Photo Elise Dalmaso.
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It was on for young and old on the final day of the SA Summer of Sail Launch Regatta at Adelaide Sailing Club on Sunday with massive swells and winds consistently more than 25 knots giving sailors plenty of excitement.

The Open Optimist fleet was able to complete six races in the strong winds, while the Lasers and the Sharpies managed a couple of afternoon races each.

For the Sharpies it was the first leg of a two-weekend State Championship that will be completed in Wallaroo next March, while the Lasers rounded out their States following the first leg also at Adelaide Sailing Club earlier this season.

Austin Higgins from the Brighton and Seacliff Yacht Club came away as the State Optimist Champion this year showing some impressive skills and also coming out ahead of all interstate competitors.

The second South Australian was Izaak Hart from the Goolwa Aquatic Club, followed by Adelaide Sailing Club's Connor O'Brien in third.

While Izaak and Connor finished second and third in the SA States, they were 7th and 8th in the overall standings with interstate competitors filling the positions from 2nd through to 6th.

Mason Mahoney from the Royal Geelong Yacht Club in Victoria was recognised as the first interstate competitor, finishing second overall just behind Higgins.

In the Sharpies, there were some wild rides and challenging sea states that kept sailors on their toes and also caused a few breakages.

With four damaged masts, a hospitalisation and some generally sore bodies, it was Sharpie legend Sam McCloud in Warpig with Sam Flint and Mark Beaumont who came out the victor in the opening race.

While McCloud looked dominant again in the second race, a capsize tarnished his potential clean sheet and allowed Mal Higgins in Focus with Sam Sanderson and fill-in forward hand Marcus Cooper to take the second race win.

Jason Heritage in Maelstrom with Chris Martin and James Hughes was the smooth mover of the day, finishing with a 3rd and a 2nd to end the first leg on top of the state championship table.

With 32 Sharpies entered in the opening States weekend, it was a fleet size not seen for a long time in a South Australian States, however due to the challenging conditions a few boats stayed ashore, while a number of others retired during the racing.

A third race got underway late in the day, however due to a damaged anchor line and a top mark that was heading downwind at a rapid rate, the race was abandoned and the boats were sent ashore.

In the Lasers, a fleet of eight boats made up of Radial and 4.7 rigs took to the water for some extremely challenging racing in the large swells and big winds.

Young up-and-comer Benjamin Newman sailed brilliantly in the 4.7 fleet across all legs of the State Championship to come away with the 4.7 State Title, while class veteran Juha Vanhakartano sailed consistently across both legs to claim the Radial State Title.

The Laser class has been seeing consistent numbers over the last couple seasons in South Australia, two years after hosting the National Championships at Adelaide Sailing Club, and it is proving to be a solid development pathway for single-handers in SA.

The success of the SA Summer of Sail Launch Regatta this past weekend sets up a huge summer of sailing in South Australia, which will see a number of grass roots senior classes hosting their national championships at clubs right across Adelaide.

The Sharpies at Adelaide Sailing Club and the Cherubs at Largs Bay Sailing Club will kick off the festival, followed by the Tasars (Largs Bay), Contenders (Brighton & Seacliff), International 14s (Adelaide), F18 Catamarans (ASC), and the Milang-Goolwa Freshwater Classic event on the South Coast.

- Harry Fisher

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