Two national championship bouts at the Festival of Sails

At Geelong’s 2016 Festival of Sails, two national titles will be settled in the midst of the multiple divisions competing at the historic Australia Day long weekend regatta.

One of titles belongs to a newish class to Australia, the VX One sports boat. Numbers have been steadily rising since the first hull arrived from the USA in 2012 and Australian class secretary Andrew ‘Yorky’ York says up to 15 could contest their four day national series, January 22 – 25, 2016 hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club. His is the first entry, received today for Speedwagon sailing for the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia.

The VX One originated in America and has spread across the world. It’s typically sailed with two or three crew, ideally adding up to the best weight range of 190-230 kilos, and performs like a dinghy according to York, a two time national and state champion who’s had his boat record a blistering 24 knots downwind.

Most sports boats are reasonably narrow with a lot of lead underneath while the VX’s have a short keel and not too much lead,” York explains. “The boat’s width provides stability and there’s enough weight underneath to be quite forgiving, and to give the crew time to react, plus there’s plenty of performance.”

The Sydney 38 association envisages a similar roll-up for their national title that dates back to 2001. Victoria is the class’ historical strong-hold and the Morris Finance Sydney 38 Australian Championship returns to Geelong next January for a three-day contest, 23rd -25th.

Sydney 38 Australian class president Greg Clinnick says there has been some movement over winter with boats bought and sold, bringing new blood and vibrancy to the owner’s group and fleet. South Australia has ambitions of hosting the nationals as part of Port Lincoln Race Week and Clinnick expects at least two from that state, White Knight and Clockwork Orange, to travel to Geelong.

Pittwater just hosted the Sydney 38 NSW title and Rick Welch and his crew from The Bolter suddenly feel a lot more inclined to make the effort to join the national’s line-up. “We’d never won a race before and last weekend we won three, and the series!” said the delighted skipper who has owned The Bolter since 2001. “We suddenly jumped up in the fleet thanks to a very good tactician and some new crew, plus everyone told me to keep my head in and not look sideways and I paid attention to this advice. We hope to be able to pull it all together for the championship at Geelong.”

Clinnick says there are numerous crews gunning for the top spot, including reigning ticket holders Jen and Brenton Carnell and their Geelong based Sydney 38 Phoenix.

In the pre-season regatta last month, Kirwan Robb’s Ikon from across the bay at Brighton knocked off the national champs on their home waters, but as Brenton pointed out at the time: “The first regatta of the season is always friendlier as everyone is coming back for the first event of the season. It’s more relaxed, not like playing for sheep stations as it is in the nationals.”

Ian Murray is both skipper of Sydney 38 Cinquante and CEO of Morris Finance, once again the title sponsor of the Sydney 38 Australian Championship. Murray’s nine-strong crew had a promising work out last weekend, the starting point of their intensive training schedule geared to making their mark at the 2016 Festival of Sails presented by Rex Gorell Land Rover.

Cinquante is getting the once-over and the crew have launched into a three month program to be ready for the championship,” said Murray. “Sydney 38 class racing is exciting and I’ve had a lot of fun over the years. I continue to support the class because I enjoy the competition, plus it’s good for our company’s national profile given the fleet is spread out and the titles travel around the states.”

The RGYC is well qualified to host major sailing titles having won the right to host the pre-Festival 2014 Gill Melges 24 World Championship and 2015 International 14s World Championship.

Festival of Sails entries received in the next few weeks will be eligible for the major prize of a trip to New York for two, thanks to Geelong Travel, and a bonus incentive for entries from outside Victoria is the Bausele watch valued at $1,000. The two lucky winners will be drawn during the Festival period, January 22-26, from early bird entries received prior to November 30, 2015. Enter here.

All information relating to the 172nd Festival of Sails is on the regatta website www.festivalofsails.com.au 

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