Big names roll up for Sail Sydney

Woollahra Sailing Club is ready to host more than 320 entries and 400 competitors for the 2014 Sail Sydney regatta split across two sessions, Tuesday December 2 to Thursday 4 for Olympic classes and Friday through to Sunday December 7 for invited and youth classes.

A last minute roll up of prominent names will hit the water for the first session including the Australian Sailing Team’s Olivia Price and Eliza Solly from the Australian Sailing Squad campaigning their 49erFX women’s skiff.

Australia’s top ranked Finn sailor Jake Lilley (AST) is travelling back from Abu Dhabi where he finished fifth overall at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final only yesterday. “I’m on a flight out tonight and will have a short sleep before racing in the Sail Sydney regatta!” Lilley said, adding, “And then another couple days off before starting Sail Melbourne.”

Olympic Laser gold medallist and Oracle Team USA’s Tom Slingsby returns to Sail Sydney racing in the Moth division as he prepares for next month’s Moth worlds. First he’ll skipper Oman Air in the Extreme Sailing Series on Sydney Harbour next week, December 11-14, 2014.

The popular Flying 11 class and many other youth and invited classes take their turn when the second session commences this Friday, December 5.

The earliest model Flying 11s or F11s launched in the mid-1960s. The class really hit its stride in 1970 with the introduction and acceptance of fibreglass instead of timber and like all classes the modern version incorporates the latest materials, fittings and sails.

Fairly new to the F11 fleet but with plenty of salt water in their lineage are brothers Zac Barnabas, 13, and Jake, 11, the sons and grandsons of two 18ft skiff world champions. Dad Trent Barnabas, who is currently crewing for Michael Coxon in the Australian 18 Footers League, won three J.J.Giltinan international championships sailing with his dad Trevor Barnabas, a five-time winner.

Zac took out last year’s Manly Junior nationals on scratch and Jake won the same title on handicap. The eldest was getting too big size-wise for class so his parents trialled then bought the boys a Flying 11. Jake, a Newport Public School student, still races an MJ as well as crewing for his big brother on their F11 called Shotgun.

The Barnabas family patriarch is their coach, not a bad arrangement though for Zac and Jake his teaching pedigree is nothing out of the ordinary. “Granddad’s a good coach …he’s very patient and he comes to most of our regattas. He’ll be at Sail Sydney,” Zac offers.

Trent drives the coach boat and pays the bills. “My dad does most of the coaching and he loves it. The boys don’t take much notice of me,” he admits.

Being new to the class Zac says he has no expectations for his first Sail Sydney. The St Augustine student from Avalon comments, “It will be good, we are looking forward to it. We don’t have a goal for this weekend. We are still getting to know the boat.”

Tom Crockett and Tom Dawson on Hammertime is Flying 11 enemy number one. The class’ national president Chris Jones says, “Tom Crockett’s very competitive and a very good little sailor.” On final numbers He says a fleet of 30-35 is what they are shooting for.

Over the last five years the class changed its structure to move the bigger kids on to Lasers, 29ers and 16ft skiffs. “We used to get monster kids sailing with tiny kids on the front whereas we are now getting two good sailors on the boat of similar ages, and that’s positive,” believes Jones. 

French brother and sister duo of Nicola and Lara Racape pulled into Hobart on the 45 foot family boat having spent their lives sailing around the world. Currently they are the only non-NSW Flying 11 crew registered for Sail Sydney and to travel all the way from Hobart to represent their host club, the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania, demonstrates their keenness.

“They have only been in the class for six months and they are keen as mustard,” says Tasmanian class vice president Andrew Crisp. The whole family are very good yachting people, now the kids are learning dinghy skills.” 

Months of shoreside and on-water planning by WSC, organiser Yachting NSW and the event’s partners is about to be rigorously tested when competitors from around Australia and the world descend on Rose Bay in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs tomorrow, then out on to Sydney Harbour.

Event manager Andrew Hawkins says everything is in place for the first day of competition. “It’s been a great team effort, lots of support from the local council, untiring work from the class associations, one of the best sailing locations in the world… what more could you ask for! We are looking forward to a lot of happy but tired sailors at the end of the regatta.”

The forecast for the opening day of competition is the chance of showers and north-easterly winds 15-20 knots and NE 10-15 knots on Wednesday, typical Sydney summer breezes.

The NSW Government is a key Sail Sydney supporter along with Nautilus Marine, Gill Marine clothing, Steve Jarvin Motors, Lejen Marine, Tohatsu Outboards and Sydney Harbour Boat Storage.

Sail Sydney 2014 entry is open here right up until the eve of the regatta. Entries on the eve of racing stand at 320 and are still being accepted.

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List of entries

– Lisa Ratcliff

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