Backchat wins back-to-back Adams 10 Class National Tiles

After taking out the 2022 National Titles contested out of The Sound in Sydney, Backchat backs it up with another impressive win on the flat and fluky race track north of Scotland Island on Sydney’s Pittwater.

The Adams 10 owners and sailors are a self-deprecating bunch that cheerfully point out the cost effectiveness their chosen boat, happily chiding each other about whose is the oldest and what particular original fitting has been discarded in the name of holding their own on the course.

But don’t be fooled, this is a highly competitive mob that enjoys some very close racing in boats of all ages, as was on show for the three-day regatta hosted by the RPAYC in the first weekend in February.

Tom and Belinda Braidwood and Jason Akers’s ‘Backchat’ had an almost unassailable lead going into the last day and was eventually able to ‘stay out of everyone’s way’ by trailing the fleet for the last race. As if to emphasise the owners’ insistence that even the oldest boats can be competitive, Garry Gudmunsons’ ‘Organised Chaos’ took out second place in his 1980 vintage boat, while Allen Stormon had to settle for third place with ‘Gezzabelle’ after a late bid for a second place fell just short.

The fleet was facing a dire forecast, with competitors and PRO Steve Merrington nervously wondering how many races could be run with such light breezes expected. Fortunately, the wind stuck around the whole weekend, first from the east, then a 180 degree flip of the course for the westerly that came in. On day 2 the 25kt gusts in the westerlies had the fleet on its ear, then back to the east again by day 3, with the flickity breezes keeping competitors on their toes. Backchat’s Akers said; “it was super hard for everyone, so fluky, wind shifts everywhere” and partner in the boat, Braidwood lamented; “you make mistakes and you pay dearly for them”. Many a competitor went from hero to zero in the punishing 30 degree shifts, making laylines near impossible to pick and contributing to some of the havoc around the top marks. Merrington and his team set some great courses, managing to get all seven races in, despite flying the AP several times over the weekend to set and reset courses in an effort to make the racing fun and fair. “The breeze was shifting so far it wasn’t worthwhile going” says the PRO; “we’re here to give them good racing, they can wait around.”

Races were won and lost off the starts and disappointingly for Gezzebelle, it seemed to be their Achilles Heel this weekend. The local boat was definitely one to watch with their extensive local knowledge and a recent win in the State Titles. As Stormon said; “you sneeze, you lose… it’s really important to get off the line in clear air and build your race from there” but that was no easy feat. Race 2 on day two saw some particular carnage on a boat-end favoured line leaving half the fleet behind the start boat on the gun, a minor collision and keen-eyed umpire, Simon Barrington blowing his whistle and policing the infringements. However, Merrington was happy there was “only one black flag during the whole regatta.”

Newcomers, Tenacity (Peter Young) have put a lot of work into the boat purchased a couple of years ago, especially into getting the bottom silky smooth. The boat certainly has pace and the experienced Adams 10 racers on board showed its potential with a second in race 2 and a couple of 3rds. But competition at the top was especially fierce and they walked away with a 4th overall.

While Backchat took out the win, the exceptional performance of second-placer, Organised Chaos (Garry Gudmunson) deserves special mention. The Pittwater local said he’s “spent a bit of money on getting it up to scratch, but it just goes to prove and old boat’s just as quick… one design boats, you can’t beat ‘em.” Chaos also walked away with the Pat Carroll Memorial Trophy for the first Timber Seater, although Gudmunson jokes his timber seats are now more useful by the pool than on the boat.

In the end, the mighty team of Tom and Belinda Braidwood, Jason Akers, Gav Wood, Ian McKillop, Doug McGain and Nick Beaudoin on Backchat could not be beaten. The same, exceptionally strong crew have been sailing together for the last five Nationals in a row and their experience and expertise could not be challenged. Despite Braidwood’s assertion that “the boats are all very, very even”, Backchat won four of seven races. He puts some of it down to the “new Norths spinnaker for this regatta which made us super-fast down wind.” Akers said, “we’ve been together for a long time and we’re best, best friends, that’s why we keep coming back every year.”

While the on-water competition is fierce, back at the bar the fleet are some of the nicest, easy-going and friendliest bunch in sailing. A beautiful warm evening on the decks of the Royal Motor Yacht Club, with Champagne from sponsors Champagne Royal Riviera flowing and a delicious buffet dinner made the Saturday night of the regatta especially social. The class is also particularly appreciative of the sponsorship provided by Zhik who has contributed $1500 worth of vouchers and top-quality sailing merchandise for winners in the State and National Titles. Their support of grass-roots classes like the Adams 10s makes these events possible. Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club did a stellar job of hosting and running a fantastic regatta, well-appreciated by competitors, spectators and officials alike.

Tracy Richardson (President, Adams 10 Association)

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