The opening day of the Australia A-Class Catamaran Nationals started on Monday, in what at times looked like a big game of sailing Snakes & Ladders out on the waters of Lake Macquarie. Over half of the National Association’s 80 members were sailing in this event, the farthest land traveller driving over from the West coast in what sounded like an epic road trip over 4 days. They were also joined by two of the top US sailors; the 2022 World Champion Ravi Parent, and the US #3 Mike Christiansen.
They were lured over this year by the temptation of sailing in the strongest National A-Cat Fleet in the World. The fleet contains and a reigning World Class Champion, a few former multiple World champions, add sprinkling of former Olympic medallists and America’s Cup winner, and you get the picture.
Three races were scheduled and raced. On each, it seemed the bottom left and the top right was where the best winds were to be found, but at times the course wind was full of holes, so the lake sailors, particularly the local ones, can manage to stitch together something. But with the winds ranging from 3 knot to 15 knot, it was a day for the skilled tactical sailor in all the races.
This is the fastest single handed cat class in the World and now has two categories; the Classic – boats with the straight or constant curve C board, that do not foil, and the Open – boats with usually a Z shaped foil capable of reaching over 35 knots in their downwind foiling configuration. Classics tend to be more numerous and more popular. Their physically closer, more tactical racing style, coupled with the fact they don’t require particular ‘circus skills’, means that they can be ideally suited to the slightly older sailors who comprise the bulk of many of the National fleets. However, the Open foilers are the glamour guys, and attract sailors from other foil classes such as Moths. If you can achieve upwind foiling, they you’ve cracked it.
Despite the hit and miss conditions of Monday, the good sailors tend to be the good sailors, as they say. The Open fleet was a battle between reigning AUS Champ Adam Beatie, and Ravi Parent, with Adam coming out with 2 bullets and Ravi one. In the Classic Fleet, the reigning World Champion, from Toulon back in September, was Scotty Anderson, with his 3 bullets, albeit close fought to the finish on a couple.
Tuesday on the lake looks a little more consistent, windwise, hopefully. But there’s a long way to go and much can happen yet.
Click HERE for full results
Gordon Upton A-Cat.org