• F-Troop takes out RL24 Nationals. Photo Lisa Ratcliff.
    F-Troop takes out RL24 Nationals. Photo Lisa Ratcliff.
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More than four decades ago a keen yachtsman and professional boat builder from Queensland named Rob Legg began toying with the notion of a new concept in sailing craft. Rob wanted a boat that slept at least four, was fast, safe and exciting to sail, was simple to rig and handle and yet could be trailed easily behind the average family car. Could a single design offer all this???? Imagine.

The man behind the RL, the class bastion, is now an octogenarian. He’s also an enthusiastic contributor to the ongoing planning and build up to the 42nd RL24 national championship to be hosted by the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron January 4 – 9, 2015.

Plenty of groovy funsters and hippies who were born into and grew up in Australia in the 1970s are planning to make their way from Victoria and New South Wales, where RL24 ownership is concentrated, up a dark desert highway… cool wind in their hair, to Brisbane’s Moreton Bay. “That’s the way uh-huh uh-huh I like it!!” champions class president Wayne Hill, owner/skipper of the more cruisy Victorian RL24, Spiral Navigator.

So who’s put their hand up already for the nationals?

Darren Dyer’s Whatever is going…..sounds totes like a bunch of teens will be crewing this Victorian RL24. Apparently the moniker was settled on at the end of a very long naming discussion. #wotevs… jokes.

Tim Jackman’s Dodgy Vindaloo requires no further explanation.

The Ratcliffs’ Spud Gun, bought on a whim post 2013 nationals from somewhere on the Gippsland Lakes where it had sat dry-docked and baking in the sun for three years, has been national’s bridesmaid for the past two seasons. Last January at Toronto on Lake Macquarie the Family Affair sporting poor taste Hawaiian shirts from Lowes shared the runner-up honour with Simon Vaughan’s Lowana V after the pair went toe-to-toe in the final race, slinging verbal dirt unfit for the young ears aboard both boats.

Matching Hawaiian shirts and Dodgy’s crew shirts with ‘dodgy skipper’ and ‘dodgy crew’ printed on the back quashed speculation that the popular trailer boat class had signed a mega sponsorship deal with the Ralph Lauren (RL) design house.

Annoyingly for both Spud Gun and Lowana V’s crews, Queensland based F-Troup won on Lake Macquarie last January and skipper Brad Taylor will be rockin’ the “yep still curly at 54” fro when the fleet comes to town and his home club, RQYS. Taylor’s a talented Laser sailor who knows how to tweak the rig on his RL24 and kidnap the most talented twenty-something recently returned Sydney Hobart gun crew like nobody else.

Bad news for anyone with designs on a slice of the silverware is that Simon ‘Six-Shooter’ Walsh... spotted recently on the Gippsland Lakes in an immaculate cruising powerboat…. has confirmed the equally brilliantly prepared and multiple RL24 national champion Ohau -Rua will be there. Walsh and his tough-talking posse from south of the NSW border have the others quaking in their sea boots at the impending showdown.

Class stalwart Mick Shannon, who has campaigned numerous RL24s for 37 years, had his son Charlie and grandsons Tim and Jack aboard at the nationals. The third generation of Shannons went up against the Ratcliff brother and sister helming combination, and other children roped in as crew. The daily grudge-match on the club lawn - where many a little ‘un who entered the competitive fray became an unsuspecting ten pin – kept up for hours and come January the RL24 offspring are bound to make the most of summer temps and RQ’s vast grounds in the late afternoon.

Fellow Victorian Paul Corben paid homage to the great man Mick when he named his RL Cosmicsedso. Cos-Mic-Sed-So. Get it? Corben’s a feisty one on the water and always brings a top crew who appear friendly when you first meet them.

The RQYS at Manly will host a five day race schedule starting Sunday January 4, 2015 with three to four short sprint races to blow out the dust before the pointscore and quest for class supremacy commences.

RL24 nationals schedule:

Mon 5 Jan: 2 races

Tue 6 Jan: 2 races

Wed 7 Jan: designated layday for families, secret modifications and door knocking in trousers and ties around the yacht club to convince other boat owners they should trade up to an RL24

Thu 8 Jan: 2 races

Fri 9 Jan: 1 race followed by the presentation that evening in the Boardwalk Café

Races will be conducted within Waterloo Bay around laid marks using a combination triangle / windward-return course like the old style Olympic courses.

 - Lisa Ratcliff
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