Lay day offers competitors in the Stonehaven Cup to reflect on performance so far

A lay-day today and a chance for weary young bodies to rest. Lay-day is often a time for boat repairs and rig adjustments etc, but so far the regatta has been largely incident free. Four races of the Stonehaven Cup have now been run and the skill level on display from our young sailors is a testimony to their commitment and dedication to our great sport.

The wind was shifty all day for the second day of racing and this really tested the race officer in his attempt to set a proper course. For those who are regular sailors at the top end of the bay, when an easterly weather pattern is in play, as it is now, shifty wind direction is the norm. It is not only difficult for the race officer, but also extremely difficult for the crews. There were many hard luck stories from race three where a wind shift favoured those crews who sailed to west even though the best wind did appear to be on the east side of the course. The wind shifted back to a more easterly direction bringing these boats home ahead of the rest of the fleet. The predicted stronger winds didn’t eventuate and this resulted in the race officer shortening the course at the top mark of the second lap. The wind shift and the shorten course gave Clare Carew and her crew of Rosie Murry and Darcey Holmes in C183 ‘John Akhurst’ their second win of the regatta.

The real test of the crews’ seamanship came with the sea breeze that set during the fourth race in the afternoon, with the wind now reasonably steady at 23 knots from the south and the occasional gust over 25 knots. Gear failure put three boats out of running and several other less experienced crews decided that they would prefer to be behind the breakwater at RMYS and withdrew.

This allowed the remainder of the fleet to enjoy the most exciting ride in a 12Ft Cadet dinghy that 23 knots of wind and the infamous ‘Port Phillip Chop’ gave them. The sea state was the biggest challenge but those who stuck with it had an awesome ride around the course. First over the line in most trying conditions was Tristan Cole and his crew of Moritz Haese and Stephen Suits in C181 ‘Mary-Alice Auxiliary’ just a minute or so ahead of Clare Carew and with Cliodhna Healy and her crew of Matt Hennessy and Ben Holmes in C187 ‘Cry Havoc’ came in third just 30 seconds behind her.

The current status of the results is most interesting with just one point separating Tristan Cole and Clare Carew and then 12 points back to Patrick Johnson from King Island Boat Club and his crew of Maddie Cole and Kashmir Taylor sailing T162 ‘Aussie II’. With three races to go in the series, it seems that the race is really on between Tristan and Clare, but the Stonehaven Cup has very often thrown up a surprise here and there. With the option to drop their worst result, there are a further six crews who have the chance to make more Stonehaven Cup history.

About Stonehaven Cup

The Stonehaven Cup – the national championship for the Australian 12 Foot Cadet Dinghy – is the longest continuously contested junior/youth one-design dinghy trophy in Australian yachting.

Today, 88 years on, each participating state hosts the Stonehaven Cup on a rotating basis. The event has been run at Largs Bay SC in South Australia, King Island Boat Club, Grassy, King Island, Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, and of course Royal Brighton Yacht Club – trustee of the Stonehaven Cup since 1945. Each event is seemingly more memorable than the last. Competitors make friends and develop a camaraderie not readily seen in other classes.

A special characteristic of the 12 Foot Cadet Dinghy is its capacity to carry a crew of three teenage sailors. Most crews are made up of a competent and skilled skipper, a moderately skilled forward hand, and in some cases, a beginner main-hand. Not all young race crews are of high performance standard. Crews are encouraged over many years to steadily build their skills to a regatta winning standard. This process makes our program more accessible to the average young club-member/sailor.

The dinghy itself has been substantially modernised to current standards. Optional modifications approved by National Council include a bermudan rig, side buoyancy tanks, a swing blade rudder, an alloy centreplate, and a beach trolley, with the rules of the Stonehaven Cup permitting any combination of the old and new equipment to be used in competition.

The racing is of the highest standard and crews display a very responsible attitude to the racing and their fellow competitors. They learn teamwork, leadership and community in the Youth Sailing Programs around the country that employ the 12Ft Cadet and three young people sailing together, learning to depend on each other – building friendships for life.

The Australian 12Ft Cadet has been described as “the ultimate youth sailing team experience.” 

If you or a family member is interested in learning more about the Youth Sailing Program swing by the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron and watch the racing drama unfold this week or contact Ray Smith at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club (phone 0418 391 324) to find out how you can participate in the Youth Sailing Programs.

– Ray Smith

JPK August 2023
JPK August 2023
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