2022 5.5m Australian champions crowned

John Bacon, James Mayjor and Terry Wetton are the 2022 5.5m Australian champions.

The Championship was held at the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club from February 27 to March 1, 2022.

John and team posted five wins over the eight race series. Commenting on the past three days of racing John said, “After having the worlds here two years ago, it has been great for the members to retain the fleet and to have such a strong fleet racing again this year. Next up for us is the Worlds in Europe which we head off to in June this year.”

The winning team with their trophy at the awards ceremony.
The winning team – Ku Ring Gai 3. Pic – Rob McClelland

It was a challenging and wet weekend, which kept tacticians and mark layers busy, as the rain cells dragged the wind backwards and forwards, from zero to 20 knots, with a fleet again in the double digits, saw this class enjoy close racing on the beautiful waters of Pittwater.

On day one Ku Ring Gai 3 (John Bacon), showed what speed this 2016 Schmidt/Wilke Design modern 5.5 could achieve, recording a perfect score card after day one.

Day two saw the start boat burn through the fuel as the fleet tried to find somewhere on Pittwater with a steady enough breeze to get a race in. By 1430, a course was set, however mid-way through the sequence a sizeable wind shift and increase meant that the first part of the race turned into a slalom race in 15 knots of breeze. A blanket could have been thrown over the entire fleet, which made the top mark and bottom mark rounding’s tight and competitive.

Group of five boats round top mark and heading to separation mark.
Close mark roundings. Pic – Rob McClelland

Enjoying the slalom legs was Alpha Crucis (Bob Stoddard), this modern Schmidt/Wilke Design 5.5 is affectionately known as ‘the long boat’, given her huge overhangs. With class stalwart and former world champion Phil Smidmore on board, they had the boat dialled in well, and won both races, taking the title of ‘boat of the day’.

By the end of day two, there was some major movement on the overall leader board. Punching well above their weight, and reviling in the shifty Pittwater conditions, saw Kings Cross (Scotty O’Connor) move into third place. A great achievement considering she is one of the oldest boats in the fleet, a Robert Miller (aka Ben Lexcen) design from 1968. “This boat [Kings Cross] should have gone to the Mexico Olympics!” proclaimed a jubilant O’Connor.

Consistent results saw another oldie, Rhapsody (Chris Hancock), surprisingly slip into first place overall after two days of racing.

An earlier start time was arranged for day three, with Race Officer Stephen Merrington scheduling four races to catch up on the regatta programme and take advantage of the forecasted breeze. He did just that getting four races away to conclude the Nationals as an eight-race series over the three days.

John Bacon and his team on board Ku Ring Gai 3 produced another solid day with a 1,1,1,5 scorecard to take the overall championship win on scratch with a total of 15 points. Only seven points behind was a gallant effort by Rhapsody, which had another solid day of keeper races. Rhapsody, a Luders design (1978), impressed many given both the boat and the owner’s vintage. In third place saw Ku Ring Gai (Malcolm Parker) only 2 points behind. Parker is 27-years-old – it is great to have some fresh faces and youth join the class.

Rhapsody on a kite reach.
Rhapsody. Pic – Rob McClelland

The PHS results saw Martin Cross’s Antares take the win over Ku Ring Gai 3 (John Bacon) and Kings Cross (Scotty O’Connor) who tied for second place, finishing second and third on countback respectively.

The unprecedented weather for this national event was both challenging for the competitors and the race management team. The race committee did a fantastic job to complete the series.

Racing continues for the 5.5m fleet during the week, with the remainder of events as part of the festival of fives, concluding with the Associates Trophy on Thursday evening as part of the RPAYC Thursday Twilight Series.

The RPAYC looks forward to hosting the 2023 Australian Championships in February next year.

Perpetual trophies awarded:

D’Arcy Shelly Memorial Trophy (overall winner) – Ku Ring Gai 3 (John Bacon)

Fred Craig Juno Handicap Trophy (overall handicap) – Antares (Martin Cross)

5.5 Metre Gold Cup (evolution/modern winner) – Ku Ring Gai 3 (John Bacon)

5.5 Metre Silver Cup (winning classic boat) – Kings Cross (Scotty O’Connor)

For the full results, see: https://app.sailsys.com.au/club/13/results/series/1545/races

By RPAYC Media

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