Blue Kite Day

Lead by Dave's blue kite, the fleet sails downwind on a stunning blue Port Philip
Lead by Dave’s blue kite, the fleet sails downwind on a stunning blue Port Philip

And the winner is Dave Suda, Pacemaker, driver of the blue Kite

After a close and hard fought series of 8 races on Port Phillip, the MONJON 2014 Victorian State titles was won by the consistent sailing of the long term team on Pacemaker. Sailing with Dave are Herschel, Luke, Sam and Rachel, pretty much the same team that has been training for the last 10+ years, so perhaps the only team in the fleet to have been together for so long – and it showed. Dave had to drop a second place, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Our friend Chris Furey, ‘photographer to the stars’ and long time J24 devotee was out on the track taking the pix, so unless noted otherwise, the pictures for these articles are all his work – and there are some stunners like the one above. (If you are looking for a picture taker for your next regatta – talk to Chris)

Results:  One Design

1 PACEMAKER     David Suda
2 CONVICTS REVENGE     Stephen Girdis
3 BY THE LEE      Brendan Lee
4 BRUSCHETTA VI     Hugo Ottaway
5 GRIDLOCK     Doug Watson
6 JET     Simon Grain
7 HYPERACTIVE     Kirsty Harris
8 KICKING BOTTOM     Ron Thomson
9 VERTIGO     Michael Lewenhagen
10 SDM     Robyn Townsend
11 VICE VERSA     John Neville
12 FLY AWAY JAY     Martin Hall
13 GATSBY     Brent Smith
14 SANGUINE     Peter Moulang
15 JIVE     Alison Dale
16 J FORCE     Warren Campbell
17 CRACKERJACK     Doug Macgregor

PHS Results:
1 GATSBY     Brent Smith
2 GRIDLOCK     Doug Watson
3 FLY AWAY JAY     Martin Hall
4 JIVE     Alison Dale
5 PACEMAKER     David Suda
6 JET     Simon Grain
7 SDM     Robyn Townsend
8 KICKING BOTTOM     Ron Thomson
9 VICE VERSA     John Neville
10 VERTIGO     Michael Lewenhagen
11 SANGUINE     Peter Moulang
12 BRUSCHETTA VI     Hugo Ottaway
13 CRACKERJACK     Doug Macgregor
14 BY THE LEE     Brendan Lee
15 HYPERACTIVE     Kirsty Harris
16 CONVICTS REVENGE     Stephen Girdis
17 J FORCE     Warren Campbell

For full results go to :

Dave Suda’s Story

The MONJON Victorian State Championships have proven to be the best regatta of the year again, the ultimate J24 season grand finale.

After six months of arguably the best summer season for as long as I can remember, we finished with two perfect days, racing J24’s as hard as we can, against 16 other J24 crews who used every ounce of speed and skill to will their boat ahead of the next, on a course as well managed as any sailor could hope. I feel sorry for the J24 members that didn’t sail this weekend, for they missed another beauty.

Saturday had four races and four different winners, with Gridlock Doug Watson and co taking heat one honours in a tight three way tussle from Pacemaker and Convicts Revenge. Race 2 was a nail biter with Convicts Revenge holding the narrowest of margins over Pacemaker at every turn and they defended multiple attacks on the final downwind leg to cross the line 2 seconds ahead.

Race 3 saw another black flag and this time Convicts Revenge had a lapse in concentration on the restart and crossed early, meanwhile the largely female crew on Hyperactive had a brilliant start to hold a comfortable lead all the way to the finish. A little further back Kicking Bottom and Pacemaker duelled until the latter took a close advantage across the finish line, notably Michael Lewenhagen Vertigo(6th) found his mojo and John Neville Vice Versa (8th) had a great race after rounding the bottom mark fighting for fifth.

Race 4 and wind increased to 18 knots for the last race of the day. We eventually started second row directly behind Hugo after we left our port approach late. We couldn’t find a gap anywhere near the pin in this much improved and aggressive starting J24 fleet. We tacked very shortly after the start and ducked a few sterns to find some clear air and thankfully met a 15 degree right hand shift and extra pressure, thanks Huey! The usual suspects of Pacemaker, Convicts, By the Lee and Bruschetta VI led the fleet home.

After some fun at 7 Scott St, we all returned to the club on Sunday morning for some light and shifty easterly conditions that weren’t really that light, shifty or east in the end.

We had the usual general recall, then with black flag start the fleet was away and with the Sydney 38’s now around the top mark and quickly in to a gybe, we decided to keep going right after a clearing tack and led at the first mark with Kicking Bottom and Convicts Revenge hot on our heels. Pacemaker pulled away while Kicking Bottom stayed in second until Convicts pounced near the top mark. By the Lee in 4th led a close bunch including Hyperactive, Bruschetta VI and Doug Watson across the line.

Convicts Revenge fought back and took race 6 honours and narrowed the margin to one point from Pacemaker after dropping their BFD. Race 7 arrived and we knew a win in the next race would be enough and then we see Convicts doing penalty turns with two minutes to the start. We happily refocus and get a great start with Hugo near the pin, then tack out right to cover the fleet. By the end of the race Convicts Revenge has recovered to a very credible 4th, behind Pacemaker, By the Lee and Doug Watson. We relax now and enjoy a great final race battle with Convicts who take the win.

After browsing the results it is great to see all the tiny gaps in finish times, highlighted no better than the final race when 2 seconds separate places 6,7,8 and three boats finished 14th!!!

14 1118 JIVE Alison Dale SYC 14:24:55 41:55 15.0
14 4466 GATSBY Brent Smith SYC 14:24:55 41:55 15.0
14 5086 CRACKERJACK Doug Macgregor SYC 14:24:55 41:55 15.0

The winner this weekend was definitely J24 sailing!

Ron Thomson’s Story

“It was with trepidation that we look forward to the 2014 Vic state titles.  There was a huge low pressure system over the Bight and Melbourne had more rain in four days than the previous three months.  It started raining on Monday and kept going and going all week, so much so that no boat preparation was done as it was too cold and wet to even clean the hull.  Friday was spent with bucket and sponge getting the water out.  And the forecast was 25 to 30 knots southerly with big waves and rain again.  Why are we sailing in Melbourne and why in cold April just before Easter when we can go away and relax.  Oh, lets just turn up and see, with a new crew with one day training and nothing in heavy conditions.  Where did I store that jib?

Got to get up early Sat morning at 6am and do another walk around the block to lose ½ kilo as weigh in finishes at 8am.  What an ungodly hour.  We are struggling with crew weight as everyone lied last week, even me and although I lost 3 kgs, got to lose a bit more.  And it will be cold and wet on my walk!  No surprise, actually surprise it is not raining and I can see clouds in the sky after only seeing grey all week.  Ah, but I bet its is blowing hell on the water.  Arriving at the club and the burgees are flying nicely in a 12 knot wind.  What happened to the 30 knots, must be coming later !

We all weighed in under the max – whew, one job done.  Now lets rug up and get out on the water as not much time before the start and it looks like we are starting miles across the bay.  Gee, I am feeling a bit hot in this outfit, need to take off some layers of clothing.  Lots of boats out today and not a good race to start – we can drop that one.  Getting warmer still.  Why did we bring that jib and we are doing fine with the genoa.

Well what a great day sailing, good breezes, good weather , no rain.  Lucky the weather forecast was so wrong.  The next day will even be better, warmer but no breeze was the forecast.  OK it was good to get one day sailing in.

Sunday was blue sky and perfect conditions with 8 to 12 knots quite shifty.  Why did we bring those jackets?  What a great day sailing.  Oh what a great place Melbourne is and was it a great idea to sail in April, perfect weather, perfect winds, flattish water and other than a few Sydney38s we had the bay to ourselves.  Could not have been a better weekend for the titles. By the way, we had to carry that first race as we did worse in another.  Crew sailed very well and other than a few overrides at the wrong time ( 2 at the start – a bit of yelling went on) we have a great two days racing.  Shame about the result for us but the racing was so tight that if you sneezed a boat went passed you.

Thanks to J24 Vic association and to Sandringham Yacht Club and particularly to the race officials as there were no complaints.  Let go sailing again in Melbourne in April.”

Brendan Lee’s Story

It was the 7th of April and out came the myriad of mobile apps trying to forecast the weather. Was it going to be Melb Winds, Willy Weather, Seabreeze or the trusty BOM. Well turns out none got it right and after a week of wet Melbourne turned it on for the 2014 J24 State titles.

The day started out with blue skies and moderate breezes….what more can you want! Starts were fierce and general recalls were common which seem to happen everytime I or John Neville got a good start or perhaps I was one of those that caused it. Then came the black flags which everyone fears except Hyperactive nailing each start with me more than a boat length back.
Race 1 and it was Doug Watson and then the usual front runners Dave and Steve. Like Ron, I said to my crew “well it didn’t take long to use the discard I fought so hard for in the NOR”. On to race 2…..
Well it was a blur from that point on. The only thing that was common was seeing a blue kite up front and it wasn’t ours!
Unfortunately I could not make the annual trip to Mike’s house this year and with two of my crew having 4 kids with a combined age of less than 5, it was a no show from “By the Lee”. I heard the following morning the night was a great success. Well done Mike and team.
Sunday arrived and again with beautiful blue skies and light South Easterly winds, or was it South, or East, or South South East. Okay let’s pick south and head out to sea on leg 1. Bollocks wrong choice! Next upwind leg, okay there is more South East in this, let’s go left. Bollocks wrong choice and so it went on every leg.
Race 2 was a bit like race 1, a late surge on the final leg saw us scramble into a respectable position. Race 3 for the day and the wind clocked to 180 degrees and freshening. Right this time I am going out to sea. Hey presto it worked – 2nd place but behind Dave AGAIN! 4th race, much like the 3rd…
Onto the prize giving and it was Dave and the team picking up the winners trophy again. How do they do it? I could have sworn I had them 8 from 8 on the starts. Well done Steve for securing 2nd even after a forgettable black flag.  To my team, well what can I say. Very happy with 3rd in only my 3rd year on a J24 and with 3 inexperienced sailors. My trimmer has the best saying “Okay well I may not be able to sail but I can lift heavy boxes”. What more can a skipper want?

The prize giving came and went but the chocolate fountain left a lasting taste in my mouth that night

Thanks to all the volunteers, our sponsor Monjon and to SYC and race management whom did a fantastic job….more of that next year please….
Until next time. See you soon!
Brendan Lee (By the Lee – AUS 4795)
Simon’s Story

The regatta started early for the Jet team, Joe let me know he would be contributing his thoughts from his honeymoon in the US and Marty called to say he had busted his hand on the way back from the SA States – OK, so the finely honed team is off to a good start! Luckily we have also been training the ‘B’ Team with Ben and Bec Robson, one of the club’s young female match racers. We added Matty from Sydney and we’re back in business.

A full week’s training and boat preparation was put on hold as Melbourne had it’s wettest week in living memory, if nothing else the deck was clean, although there was the distinct possibility that there might be fish living inside the boat. Happily I had the satisfaction of all the organisational work being done by Doug and his committee this time again and my crew do know who I am. Well done and thanks to Doug, his team, SYC and the volunteers we can’t do without.

Dave keeps his cards close to his chest with a glimmer of a smile as he tries to keep a straight face about his plans. But I am the keeper of the royalty tags, so I know who is getting new sails, Dave – new set, Hugo new sails, the girls new genoa, mmmm … well we had a new kite and reasonably new sails. So there go more of my excuses for not winning. Hugo asks me if I am clearing a space in the trophy cabinet – you’re such a tease!  Hugo has been in stealth mode for some time so I know there is stuff going on, he is determined to make a comeback after a couple of years off on the deadly treadly – I think Sue is happier about that, safer and life is more serene at home when he is sailing.

Steve is a sly “young” fox who smiles at me from the back of the pack (I think I must be doing quite well to be near him) and then again from the podium – how does he do it? Brendan is just plain dangerous to my results, loud out there but fast and I normally have a tussle around the track. I think Kirsty has my name permanently stamped on her protest flag. Well, I did turns so we could go to Mike’s great party instead of the room, I still think I was right!  Ron is also my particular friend and while silent is deadly, but I am happier when the volume and pitch of his voice goes up as I know he is having a discussion with Fitzy and I can get clean away!  We got Doug Watson into Gridlock and Jim and Robin into SDM and we are all ready to go.

Out on the bay on Saturday and the weather is a glamour, into race one and Matty tries to go overboard on the first tack – about 20m after the start!  Am I that scary? Back on the program and the first 3 races are all 5’s for us – that’s pretty consistent and I am thinking that isn’t so bad a start and we just have to improve a little bit and we will be looking good. And then we have Saturday’s drop – 9th !

Lisa has dragged me away from the party early so Sunday is a bright new day with lots of promise and we start with an 8th, not good but Saturday’s drop is still our drop so into the second race for the day and I decide that looking at the 38’s that there is a big lift on the port layline and go for it, we picked it and are around the first two marks first. All good and happy and Matty is now satisfied that his trip down from Sydney was worth it. I tell the crew that all we have to do is cover. But I don’t, I tack onto what I think is the lay before Steve does and then we get knocked while he gets lifted, around the top mark 2nd and did a bear away set, Dave does a gybe set and by the time we have gybed he is level with us on what is now a lay though to the finish, he just pips us. Third is still better than we got yesterday and I am consoled by Lisa and the crew for at least putting us ahead – before being dumb enough to lose it.

Third race and I ease the rig tension a bit and my brain too, it seems – our new drop, 11th ! We finish the last race 5th again just behind Robin in SDM, we have a big gap back to 6th so I have a bit of a play with them although Lisa is telling me to let them beat us – just for coming over – what !

Well, we have beaten Ron and Kirsty finally and no one ahead of us is a slug so I guess that’s a good series result. I’ve locked up the cabinet again, let the dust rule supreme. There will always be another regatta.


Kirby’s Story –  funny !

The Race Report

 Who am I kidding? I can’t realistically title a document ‘race report’ and have anyone take it seriously. Then again, if I call it ‘administration report’ then even I’ll go no further than this line … so – to the race report!

The Weigh In…

Huge thanks to Karen for manning the post from 12-7, and being really good about it each time I said “Do you mind if I just disappear so that I can…”  Awesome effort.  I’d rave more, but then Karen will curse me as every man and his dog thinks “Hey, wasn’t Karen really good during the states … ? Maybe we could ask her to help with…”

It all went pretty smoothly, but if I had one bit of feedback to offer, I’d say “not enough stripping”. Honestly, it just didn’t stack up to past years. Although an honourable mention does go to Daniel, who stripped with incredibly good humour considering that none of the rest of the Vertigo crew bothered to wait before getting stuck into the beers, so the 800g excess was his and his alone to deal with … albeit to the sound of our hearty encouragement and a round of applause when the final piece of attire yielded up the last required 200g’s.

So having done a few of these registrations now, I think it’s time I offered up a few rule change suggestions to the committee, all with the idea of introducing a little more sport into the weigh in process:

1.       No more four member crews. Where’s the fun in watching sailors stroll confidently up to the scales, not even bothering to remove their shoes, as they know the 400kg limit isn’t a worry unless they convert their entire life saving into 20c coins and carry it on their backs. No more. What this situation needs is another body and all five of said bodies can take themselves off for a 10km run and return to approach the scales with the dread and trepidation that the rest of us all know and love.

2.       No more people under 60kg !  I mean really, what is more annoying to those of us with a life of dinners still on the belt, than someone stepping up to the scales, registering an elephantine 57kg and moaning that they’ve gained since last regatta?

3.       There should be a prize for the boat that gets closest to 400kg without going over.  So…I’m thinking that means that someone owes the Vertigo crew a prize….

The sponsors..

A huge thanks, again, to the sponsors, MONJON in particular, Anchor Marine, Bike Factory Outlet, Smart Marketing, Synergy Audio  – and also to Hugo. What a brilliant effort to convert a Thursday lunchtime conversation about how we should have come up with the protest flag idea earlier, into the delivery of 25 logo-printed flags by Saturday morning in time for the skippers briefing. Immense result!

And I have to say, I was just quietly very pleased when I saw the first protest flag raised. Chuffed to see the next one sent flying and verging on smug when the next flash of red nylon was hoisted….but when the 15th boat raised its protest flag on the way to the first turning buoy of the regatta, I admit, I did start to wonder what sort of chaos we’d unleashed.

The race….

OK, so to the racing…well let’s see, race overview…I lost a shoe (Vice Versa and Fly Away Jay – you guys rock for randomly finding my missing shoe in the middle of the bay and bringing it back!), I got splashed a bit, pulled some ropes, forgot to pull some other ropes, got yelled at, got annoyed when a boat tacked in front of us and when we yelled “Protest! We had to change course”, he turned to us with the smile of a Cheshire cat and replied “Did not.”  Well!  May I take this chance to say simply… “Did so.” You know who you are!!!

And that’s it really. We came outright last when it mattered – the race to the crane. I think I have new life goal – to get into the dock before Pacemaker is safely tucked away into its place on the hardstand. Hopefully see you all again for a repeat experience next year!!

More stories to come so do come back and enjoy the ride with us.