A-Cat Nationals – Day 4

The penultimate day at the AUS A-Cat Nationals was another fun day on the lake.  Although the predicted wind didn’t seem to come up to the promise of 2 kts more that yesterday, it was still an acceptable 8-11 knots.  A nice clear blue sky also helped too.  2 races were scheduled for today, leaving a single race on Friday morning.  As a result, because the standings overnight were the way they were, it was a fair chance that at least one fleet would see their Champion emerge unless something untoward happened.

Racing got underway after a postponement of a 2 hours to allow the wind to arrive.  The horn blew, AP dropped and everyone suddenly became energized.  20 mins later the launch area and water was full of boats setting off for the race area.  It was the same as the day before, two courses, different to gates at different distances.  The fleets were corralled onto order, Open foiling fleet off first as their top gate was 300m further upwind due to their superior speeds.  The gun went and off they all blasted in their 20 boat fleet.  Into the Classic fleet sequence, and bang, then bang, bang.  General recall, a rarity in the A-Cat fleet, but they seem to be making a habit of it, as they had one yesterday too. All the boats reset, and were successfully started this time….right into the bottom mark area set to windward of the start line, as the 30 kt + foiling fleet were fast closing on their bottom gate.  This could be good, we all thought.  Fortunately, these guys are World class sailors, and masterfully weaved their way through the slower Classic boats leaving their sailors wondering where the hell they suddenly arrived from.   Many expressions of love and peace were exchanged.

The Open fleet had a battle at the front, with US guest sailor Ravi Parent, the 2022 World Champ, challenging to take the fleet honours from reigning AUS champion, and local hero Adam Beattie. Ravi is very fast and very focussed.  His professional approach and attention to detail, coached and honed by the US Sailing team make him a weapon.  However, the Aussies do seem to take a rather different attitude.  Their natural talent, once spotted, is simply allowed to flourish with skilled encouragement from their other World class sailors.  Both systems produce superb world class sailors but it’s interesting seeing how it works, when you look at the very different cultures that produce them.  But I digress.  At the bottom mark gate Ravi led, by about 10 seconds.  They went back up the course, always on the left, as there was usually more pressure nearer the land, and this generated a lift that is hard to resist.

They round the top gate, usually choosing the left mark, and come back down, again on the left.  But, three quarters of the way down, the wind heads the sailors, and they are pushed more to the right as the lift they find when going uphill, stops when going downhill.  This nearly aways results in them undershooting their finish gate layline, and they all need to put in a crucial gybe before diving for the line on starboard tack.  In this race, Adam had got ahead just before the top mark, and held his advantage to finish with the bullet, and clinched his championship point.  Darren Bundock was in a comfortable 3rd.

Meanwhile on the Classics, Scott Anderson was just a few points ahead of Andrew Landenberger going into the day.  But, with 5 mins to go, Landy’s rudder let go and it proved fatal.  He left the course for home, leaving his challenge behind.  But, this went unnoticed by Scotty, who sailed the race as though the ghost of Landy was just behind him.  At the line, he finally realised that his nemesis had gone home, and must have been a little sad not to have battled to the end with his old friend.  Richard Howells came across the line in 2nd and Bruce Woodward in 3rd.

The second race of the day got organised by the efficient PRO and his team.  All primed to go, when it was the Open fleet’s turn to play the Gen recall game.  It happened at the pin end.  Bundy was going for it, but so was Matt Homan, to his leeward.  This caused Bundy to luff up, into the path of powering up Adam.  So, rather than destroy Bundy’s rudders, Adam tea-bagged himself to stop. Then David Brewer became involved at he was luffed up in turn by Matt.  In the ensuing chaos, the whole lot went OCS, and the Race Officer, unable to identify culprits called the recall.  The second start was much more orderly, and they all shot off to essentially repeat the first race and the top four finishers remained the same, cementing Adam’s crown.

The final classic race finished again with a Scotty bullet and Richard second, but Bruce had a bit of a mare, and came in 9th to leave him in 3rd on the podium.

Tomorrow (Friday), although the champions are sorted, there are many minor places to be settled. In the open, there is the Brad Collet, Stuart Scott, Jake Lidell battle to be sorted for 6, 7 and 8th places with 1 point separating them all. Meanwhile, around the same positions in the Classic fleet we have Wayne Mercer, John Dowling and Mark Capel battling with a similar point score.  Tomorrow will sort all these minor battles out, and a good time will be have had by all.   

Click HERE for full results

Gordon Upton A-Cat.org

More images at https://www.guppypix.com/p156483696

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