Once again, the Australian J24 Nationals were held in Sydney, this time on the harbour. As opposed to huge swells off Cronulla last year this year were battling the traffic and their wakes, Sydney is a very congested place, especially on the weekend !
Held earlier this month in mostly jib weather, the smaller fleet size this year still contained the top sailors in Sydney, and only one entry from Victoria. The usual suspects from NSW mixed it up with new youth and female crews and it’s great to see them participating in the class. The Nationals were the qualifying regatta for the 2024 Worlds in Seattle USA, later this year and there is considerable interest in attending this regatta.
With three races a day for four days, it was a pretty solid and physical regatta with especially the female crews getting well bruised. Day one gave us a south easterly of 25 – 28 knots. Starting off Taylors bay and heading to the top mark off the northern end of Shark Island meant we were sailing across a number of ferry routes – it just adds to the excitement – and frustration. Tough sailing, but banging Bradleys Head out to the right hand side seemed to work quite well most of the time. Mixed results with Tinto (Steve Wright), Innamincka (John Crawford) and Ace (Dave West) taking out the wins.
Day two with 20 – 25kn SE winds was pretty much a re-run of day one, although we did have to pause the racing while the Virgin cruise liner (read … apartment block) left the harbour, completely blocking our race track. Day winners were Sailpac (Sean Kirkjian), Innamincka and Convicts Revenge (Simon Grain).
Day three saw us on genoas with around 15kn shifty easterly and then north easterly breezes. A tricky day with lots more traffic on the harbour being Saturday and many and large boat wakes. Starting off the west side of Bradleys Head this time and going across to the southern end of Shark Island, can’t say which side paid better as they both did at various times and the frustration came and went in the first race as the wind came and went. Winners were Sailpac, Innamincka x 2.
The last day saw us back on jibs with 20 – 25kn from the northeast. Starting down by Clark Island and racing up to the northern end of Shark Island. Banging Bradleys Head first pretty much gave you the win with a lifting breeze from there to the top mark. The Squadron laid their start line about 100m to windward of ours and that was a bit worrying but the two talked and we were away without interference from them. Winners were Tinto, Convicts Revenge and Sailpac. A day where quite a few of us had moments !
So overall results were a convincing win for John Crawford in Innamincka, second was Sean Kirkjian in Sailpac and third was Simon Grain in Convicts Revenge. Full results in this link.
That’s the pointy end, but back in the fleet there was hot competition in the middle with three boats finishing on 38 and 39 points, two boats finishing on 69 and 70 points and then the rest of the fleet spread out a little.
The women’s and youth boats competed in their own tough racing in the pack with consistency being the key to the placings. Our women’s and youth crews sailed hard in the conditions, Isabel Schlegel (Checkmate) and Tegan Franklin (Okavango Delta) and their crews battled with the two youth crews skippered by Will Hough (Waterborne Again) and James Bednaic (Calypso).
Last but not least was Cameron Cooke, perhaps the keenest skipper in the regatta, after buying his boat for $200 (!) he entered knowing what an uphill battle this was going to be. With help from numerous skippers and crews he was on a vertical learning curve but loving it. Keep at it Cam – it’s a journey for all of us !
RANSA put on a great regatta for us, the club is informal and friendly. Personally, I got so much help from Roger Wragby of RANSA before and during the regatta that made our trip up from Melbourne so much easier. Nothing like a coldie sitting right on the water in such a scenic setting after a hard day. Accolades should go to the RANSA volunteer team running the racing for us and to John Allan for being the RO. A tough gig in Sydney Harbour.
Thanks also to the NSW Committee who put on a great presentation dinner to round off the regatta, the crew of Tinto and Terry Wise on the BBQ and Marg Fraser-Martin for the great photos. To buy one of Marg’s photos, email her as below.
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The next two Nationals will be held in Melbourne as a run up to the 2026 Worlds to be held at Sandringham Yacht Club.
Story by Simon and Dave West, Pics by Marg.