Doctor is in for final day of 420 Nationals

Sailors in the 420 Nationals sailed out of Fremantle Sailing Club had their first taste of the “Fremantle Doctor” the famous south westerly sea breeze which brings cooling sea air over the city during hot summer afternoons. Gusts peaked at over 20 knots and steady breeze strength was around 15 to 18 knots during the final three races of the regatta.

The Australian Championship crown went to Chris Charlwood and Josh Dawson, who finished their program off nicely with a win in the final race. The Victorian female combination of Laura Harding and Ella Grimshaw were second outright and also the first female crew.

As expected, the tougher conditions made life hard for lighter crews so predictably some of the leading boats after two days of sailing in beautiful conditions under 15 knots struggled a little today. It was also tough on bodies, boats and gear. Two minor injuries required patching attention from the medical team while boat maintenance crews were busy repairing minor issues with boats and sails.

The ninety five boats were split according to their ranking for todays races, with the top 48 boats lining up in the yellow fleet and the remaining 47 boats in the blue.

Great Britain’s Jack Lewis and Charlie Bacon were forced back to the beach a little early today with gear problems. “Today’s breeze is a little more like it,” Charlie enthused. “Compared to conditions at home the breeze is a lot more stable and constant.” The pair love the Fremantle conditions and are hoping for similar breezes in the World Championship.

Lucy Offord and Lainey Terkelsen, also from Great Britain, broke a gooseneck fitting in the first race today and soon afterwards, lost a mainsail batten, forcing their retirement. “Conditions are very different here,” said Lucy. “We are not used to sailing in waves like this but it is really exciting.”

The French teams gave notice that they were serious by taking the first two place in the first race today, but the super cool Spaniards Elaas Aretz Queck and Pablo Garcia Cranfield were hot on their heels and were so consistent, following up a third with a seventh place in the second race. These two work the boat very hard and their race strategy has been awesome.

South Australians Alex Higgins and Joal MacKenzie were third outright and also the first under 19 crew, ahead of Matt Meaney and Angus Higgins.

WA’s Nia Jerwood and Monique de Vries, fresh from their win in Sail Sydney last week, were the second female crew.

Top of the table however, were the visitors from Spain. Whilst ineligible for the Australian title, Elaas Aretz Queck and Pablo Garcia Cranfield gave notice that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the world championships next week. Supreme in both light and heavy conditions, the boys are extremely fit and are setting the standard at present. Their compatriots Maria and Pilar Caba Hernandez have also shown great form but struggled in today’s heavier breezes.

So the Nationals are done and dusted, setting the stage for an exciting World series off Fremantle next week.

For detailed results: https://www.fsc.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/overall-GOLD.pdf

– Bernie Kaaks

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