The last time we towed our boats up the Hume for a national championship in Cronulla, was in 2017. Jack was a new owner of Two Dogs and Sailpac would take out the podium position. This time around, we had a strong contingent from Victoria lining up to compete – Bruschetta IV, Jab, Jet, Joyride, Poker Face, and Two Dogs (plus Brendan Lee jumping on to helm the NSW boat Kaotic).
While some had left their boats to marinate on Magoo’s infamous lawn after the NSW States in November, others made the trek north in the first few days of 2023.
Racing was scheduled to run from Thursday 5th to Sunday 8th January 2023 with an aim to complete 12 races. Hughie had other ideas. Racing for Thursday was cancelled the day before and replaced with a lunchtime welcome BBQ by our gracious hosts Cronulla Sailing Club.
On Friday, crews fronted up to CSC only to eventually have racing abandoned for a second day due to the weather.
Suddenly the 4-day event had been compressed into a 2-day-er and the pressure was on. The sacred drop was no longer a given when there were no guarantees how many races would (or could) be completed.
For those following along on the J24 Victoria Facebook page, you would have seen some bloody impressive photos (Thanks Marg’s Yacht Photos) from Saturday. There was a bit on. While the stories on shore all varied, there was consensus that the conditions were at the upper limits for J24 sailing. See below some of the more spectacular photos from our brilliant photographer.
In Race 1, Convicts Revenge, Innamincka and Sailpac showed us how it was done, taking out the first three places respectively. Among the top 10 spots, Team SYC placed 4th (Two Dogs), 7th(Bruschetta VI) and 8th (Jab). Unfortunately, Poker Face had to retire after a spectacular wave surf, brisk gybe and unfortunate bump to the head. They were one of four retirements from the race with El Fideldo breaking their mast in two places.
In Race 2, the conditions remained challenging with gusts peaking beyond 30 knots at times. Five SYC boats started race 2 but only 4 made it to the finish line. Two Dogs were undone by gear failure as their rudder snapped in two on the downwind leg, resulting in some impressive (and involuntary) circle work. Bruschetta, Jet and Jab all secured top 10 places in 5th, 7th, and 9th place respectively.
In the last race for the day (Race 3), there were 5 SYC starters with Bruschetta taking out 4th place, Jet in 8th place and Jab in 10th.
Sunday, the day that would make and break hopes and dreams of qualifying for worlds in Greece later in 2023. The sun was shining and with all crew back on board, Poker Face were back in the action along with El Doggo (Two Dogs + El Fideldo’s rudder) bringing our SYC starters back to 6 boats.
As if the anticipation of getting underway wasn’t enough, sailors endured three false starts (one general recall and two postponements during the sequence) before the dreaded black flag raised its head in Race 4. The stakes were on. All boats played by the rules with a clear start. Poker Face were early leaders of the race with a cracking start, before Two Dogs pulled into lead around the top mark the second time around. They maintained the lead, finishing 27 seconds before second place. Bruschetta weren’t far behind in 3rd place with Poker Face (8th) and Jab (10th) also placing in the top 10.
Race 5, there were some headsail swaps and Team SYC were getting in the groove. Bruschetta finished 2nd followed by Two Dogs (3rd), Jet (7th), Jab (8th), Poker Face and Joyride
The last race of the regatta was Race 6. Completing this race would qualify all boats for one drop which was always going to play havoc with the overall places. Jab finished strongly in 3rd place, followed by Two Dogs (6th), Jet (7th), Bruschetta (8th), Poker Face and Joyride.
Despite moments of brilliance across the board, ultimately our friends up north took out the podium spots with Sailpac in 1st place, Convicts Revenge in 2nd and Tinto in 3rd. See full results here >>
The Victorian places were as follows:
Congratulations to all participants. It was a tricky regatta in conditions that many would not have experienced before on a J24. Also, congratulations to Bruschetta and Two Dogs for qualifying for the 2023 J24 World Championships in Greece.
Special mention to Joyride who finished every race in their first interstate national championships. No mean feat!
Thank you to the RO (John Allan), Cronulla Sailing Club, and all those who made us feel at home over the last week.
Over and out from this (slightly biased) observer.
Story by Megan Aulich