It was never going to be a soft regatta off the Western Australian coast here at Jervoise Bay Sailing Club, 10 minutes south of Fremantle, and Huey has not disappointed many of the best young skiff sailors in the world at the 2014-15 Zhik Australian 9er Championships. With extraordinarily consistent south-east winds building each and every day from the early morning over the past month, it has bemused even the locals, delivering an unfailing 20kts+ for this Australian championship.
The robust conditions have certainly allowed the leaders to shine amidst the pack and have produced some of the most spectacular demonstrations of boat handling skill and competitor tenacity amongst the top 29er, 49er and 49erFX youth sailors of the world. Eleven International teams from JPN, SIN, HKG, and NZL have ventured to Perth this season to compete in the 2014-15 Zhik AUS 9er Championships and to include one of the two following regattas, either the Australian Youth Championships at FSC or the inaugural Oceania 49er & 49erFX Championships at RFBYC.
The Australian 9er classes are very proud and more than pleased with a total of 65 entries for a WA regatta, aligning with Yachting Australia’s youth regatta rotation policy. This is the third year of the AUS 9er Project where the 29er and 49er/49erFX Associations have crafted a very positive class program with a structured progression from the International 29er class trainer through to the newly introduced Olympic/Open 49erFX class rig and for those who choose the men’s Olympic 49er class.
This week, the Australian 29er and 49er/49erFX class Associations agreed to amalgamate and dissolve the two national associations and will shortly become the Australian 9er Classes Association. Over the past four years, the project’s stakeholders and administrators have steadfastly developed and maintained the integrity and consistency of the AUS 9er Championships product, showcasing where persistent focus and forward thinking with class progression by experienced national bodies can extend.
The 2014-15 championship is peppered with class heavyweights in the International 29er Class. The current leading three teams include Australian Sailing Squad Youth Bridging Athlete and NSW Sailing Team’s Angus Williams (2013 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship Team) crewing for 29er newbie and NSW Sailing Team skipper John Cooley, QLD Kyle O’Connor and Tom Siganto (2012 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship Team) and current 29er World Champion skipper Kurt Hansen with Jim Colley (2014 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship Team). The racing is extremely tight coming into the final day of competition and it remains anyone’s game.
The AUS 9ers boasts a healthy twenty two teams in the 49ers; a commendable result for the class and AUS Project in WA. The 49erFX fleet include Olympic campaigners (all-female teams) as well as open team, an innovation Australia introduced and promoted since the class’s introduction after London 2012. There are two international teams from Singapore and two campaigning Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) teams Tess Lloyd/Caitlin Elks and Haylee Outteridge/Sarah Cook competing, and half the fleet comprising mixed or all male teams providing exceedingly high standards to be met. The class appeal to the graduating 29er sailors is now confidently secured within the 9er pathway.
Commencing the final day’s competition after thirteen races, 29er graduates George Stent and Ben Robinson NSW lead with seven bullets on their scorecard over Tess Lloyd and Caitlin Elks (ASS), Singaporeans Griselda Khng and Sara Tan, Haylee Outteridge and Sara Cook (ASS), and Nina Long with Corey Hamilton NSW all keen to podium.
The Olympic 49er division this year showcases the new breed of youth 49er sailors from Australia and New Zealand, together with a strong Western Australian local contingent. The regatta has been led persistently by the young 29er graduates from QLD Joel Turner (ASS and ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship Team 2012) and Lewis Brake currently the best U21 team in the world with nine bullets after the 13 races. They lead from AST team mates David Gilmore and Rhys Mara now with three races remaining to upset that position. New Zealand’s youth team Logan Dunning Beck and Jack Simpson (ISAF YSCT reps), prominent local WA team Matthew Jerwood and Alexander Landwehr, and NSW’s Harry Price (2013 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship Team/ASS Youth Bridging) and Harry Morton (current 29er World Champion/NSW Youth Sailing Team) all have a chance at the podium coming into the final day of the 2014-15 Zhik Australian 9er Championships.
Three thrilling races remain to complete the championship; all three 9er divisions still up for grabs.
– David Price
Top 5 after 13 races (max.16 races)
29er - Overall: 1 Kurt Hansen/Jim Colley, Objective, RPAYC/GSC, AUS, 23 pts 2 John Cooley/Angus Williams, Coolski, WSC/M16'SSC, AUS, 27 pts 3 Kyle O'Connell/Tom Siganto, Ooosh, SYC, AUS, 33 pts 4 Nathan Bradley/Yann D'Argenlieu, HKG 19, ABC, HKG, 55 pts 5 Harry Lawson/Simon Hoffman, Frontline, B16'SC, AUS, 63 pts 49er - Overall: 1 Joel Turner/Lewis Brake, Why Seas, SYC, AUS, 13 pts 2 David Gilmour/Rhys Mara, The White Whale, RFBYC, AUS, 23 pts 3 Logan Dunning Beck/Jack Simpson, NZL 127, WBC, NZL, 40 pts 4 Matthew Jerwood/Alexander Landwehr, Michelle, FSC, AUS, 42 pts 5 Harry Price/Harry Morton, ATB Morton, B16'SC, AUS, 46 pts 49erFX - Overall: 1 George Stent/Benjamin Robinson, Vendetta, WSC, AUS, 25 pts 2 Tess Lloyd/Caitlin Elks, AUS 11, FSC/SYC/PYC/SSCBC/RBYC, AUS, 29 pts 3 Griselda Khng/Sara Tan, SIN 33, SIN, SIN, 33 pts 4 Haylee Outteridge/Sarah Cook, AUS 14, WASC/CYC, AUS, 36 pts 5 Nina Long/Corey Hamilton, AUS 173, B16'SC, AUS, 42 pts