Octogenarian Leslie Green crowned MC38 Australian champion

After playing bridesmaid at both Audi Hamilton Island Race Week and the Australian Championship last year, Octogenarian Sydney yachtsman Leslie Green and his Ginger crew were today crowned the MC38 Australian champions for 2014, at Hamilton Island.

Ginger had enough points on the rest of the fleet to claim the Championship yesterday, but fair sportsman and passionate yachtsman that he is, Green, who hails from Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, elected to finish the 12-race series with the rest of the fleet today.

In this highly competitive one-design owner driver class, CYCA member Green battled the elements and the rest of the fleet to take the title. Even finishing sixth out of seven boats in today’s final race after leading the fleet could not dampen Green’s enthusiasm.

He said dockside this afternoon. “I am absolutely thrilled – the whole crew is. Winning the Australian Championship is magnificent, what more could you want? It was a wonderful event.”

On their win, Green said: “If you make mistakes in one-design fleets you pay; so we obviously made fewer mistakes – except for today,” he said of the race that took the fleet on an islands course, taking the boats on a spinnaker run on sparkling waters past qualia, Hamilton Island’s luxury resort, making for scenic pictures.

“We led as we turned at the first mark, the hardest part of the course, and then we went the wrong way, as did Vino (Chris Hancock). The rest of the fleet went right and we went left. We made a big tactical error and didn’t wake up in time to do something about it.”

Green thanked his crew of Peter Bourke, David Chapman, Henry Kernot, Richie Allanson, John Flannery and Matthew Stenta. “They did a good job; they always do,” he said.

John Bacon (RPAYC) steered Dark Star to a win in the final race to retain second place overall. The Northern Beaches businessman won the opening race, also an islands course and won Race 7 on a windward/leeward course. Dark Star finished six points behind Ginger.

Magnanimous in defeat, Bacon, one of the youngest owners in the class said: “I have high respect for Leslie – what a magnificent effort in this grand prix driver class – you can only have respect for him and Ginger deserved victory.”

Of their own efforts, Bacon praised his entire crew, including his tactician. “Cameron’s done a great job. He’s so patient and I’ve learnt so much from him,” he said of Cameron Miles, a leading tactician and world champion helmsman. “All my crew have sailed at the elite level and they work together well as a team.”

Although he has owned racing yachts before, Bacon said, “This is my entry into a grand prix yacht and competition at this level. I’m just chuffed to be competitive, let alone finish second. This regatta took eight months of preparation and again, Cameron was a great help.

“It’s fantastic to finish the Championship on a high note. We decided to throw everything we had at the fleet today and we came out on top. There were changes through the race; Ginger led, the Puerto Ricans (Lazy Dog) and Vino were in front of us at one stage.

“It was shifty and there was a lot of current. It was a beautiful day, but it was hard race, very tactical. There was a variety of ways to come home, it was a ‘navigator’s choice’, and we got it right,” Bacon said.

In driving Hooligan to third place today, Marcus Blackmore (RPAYC) held onto his third place overall of yesterday and pipped the hapless Vino by two points. The Blackmores vitamin identity is brand new to the class and this was his first regatta. No doubt multiple victories in other one-design classes helped him assimilate.

The solitary international entry in this burgeoning class still in its infancy, Sergio Sagramoso and his team from Puerto Rico, scored their best result of the regatta with second place. It was the crew’s debut event in the MC38 and their introduction to racing in Australian waters. 

Seven MC38s took part in the Championship, but with Neville Crichton and Lang Walker the next to take delivery of new boats, and Howard Spencer’s highly competitive Menace due to return to Australia from New Zealand next year, expect to see larger numbers at regattas in the future.

Full results for the MC38 Australian Championship will be available at: www.hamiltonislandraceweek.com.au/

Di Pearson, MC38 media

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