Day 1 and with a forecast top of 41 degrees, race management decided to put up the AP and keep the fleet in the shade until the sea breeze kicked in. Race 1 eventually got underway in about 6 knots of wind with the official sea breeze announcing itself part way up the third leg with a massive starboard lift. Those who decided to go to the left gate and out to sea prospered. Those that did not paid a hefty price, except for Team El Fideldo who charged out to sea and picked up the generous lift to record a bullet in Race 1.
If anyone was watching from the shore, they would have been curious as to why there was often someone hanging over the back of the boats. This was to rid seagrass from the rudder. Unfortunately, arms were not long enough so it was just a case of putting up with it and assuming that everyone was “in the same boat” so to speak. As for the keel, well there was little that could be done other than sailing backwards, which would not only have been costly but likely pointless as it would have just been a matter of time until more accumulated. I understand Wildfire did in fact execute the backwards move mid-race. The following morning a number of brooms showed up on various boats with Vice Versa and By The Lee targeting the same Bunnings at the same time.
With the first race out of the way and hopefully an early discard, the hammer went down, and By The Lee picked up Race 2.
Race 3 and it was Stamped Urgent recording the win, successfully defending off By The Lee, which at times were just 4cm behind and doing everything possible to get by. A shoulda-coulda moment for sure. J/24 One Design sailing at its best!
By the end of Day 1 and with 3 races sailed, it was Stamped Urgent showing the way on 7 points with Tinto and Two Dogs on 10 points and By The Lee lying fourth on 11 points.
Following the day’s racing, it was the usual stories and banter about what coulda- and shoulda-been enjoyed over a BBQ put on by the South Australian Association. Thank you to Jim and Robyn for bringing it all together and Andrew and others for doing the cooking in almost 40-degree heat.
Sponsors Dog Ridge Wines joined the party by giving away 60 bottles of Rosé to be handed out to the top three places on One Design and PHS for each race and a new genoa from Peter Stevens, representing a new Chinese Manufacturer Loong Sails for the median placed PHS boat overall.
Day 2 and the forecast Strong Wind Warning was spot on. St. Vincent’s Gulf was recording in excess of 25 knots. With no wind abatement in sight, race management called off the day and after just three races, the fleet was rewarded with a lay day. Some chose to go to the wineries and others decided to race go-carts to blow off the adrenaline built up from day 1. All in all, it was in fact a great J/24 community day with many teams coming together and having fun.
Day 3 and the wind had moderated to 12-15 knots. Race 4 was set in at 0.6nm, however I think the race officer underestimated the speed of a J/24 and subsequently set Race 5 at 0.8nm and Race 6 & 7 at 1.0nm. With a big incoming tide, the upwind legs on the last race was seriously hard work.
Race 4 and 6 were taken out by By The Lee, with Stamped Urgent picking up Race 5 and their second win.
Onto race 7 and the final race of the day, and it was a new boat at the top—Wildfire—which I think started a few minutes ahead of the rest as this is how it ended up. I think Ron and the team were in the bar by the time the second boat crossed the line. Well done!
So at the end of Day 3, it was By The Lee and Tinto at the top on 20 points, with Stamped Urgent just 6 points behind.
With Day 2 being blown out, race management decided to get things underway an hour early on the final day, so the stage was set for a 10am start and up to four races scheduled. The Championship was far from decided.
Day 4, and By The Lee knew what they needed to do….stay ahead of Tinto in every race. Race 8 got underway in about 8 knots of breeze, and it was By The Lee rounding the top mark in first place, with Tinto a few places back. However, in true Steve Wright style, the competition was picked apart, and in the end, it was By The Lee, followed by Tinto in second. With eight races sailed, the first discard came into play, and the finishing positions were starting to take shape with Stamped Urgent, Wildfire and Two Dogs all eyeing out a podium finish.
Race 9, and it was By The Lee first at the top mark, however this was short lived after a massive spinnaker wrap which took a full three minutes to come free allowed Tinto and Vice Versa to sail through. With By The Lee going toe to toe with Tinto for the entire regatta, any placings between the two was huge, so in this case it was +2 to Tinto.
Race 10, and By The Lee had Tinto sucking dirty air off the line, however a short tack out to sea and back over to starboard saw Tinto cross the fleet, which left By The Lee wondering what the hell just happened. Tinto recorded their second win, and once again the gap narrowed by a further 2 points with By The Lee coming home in third.
With 10 races sailed and the second discard now in place, it was a showdown in the last race with just a two-point spread between first and second place. A good upwind leg on Race 11 saw By The Lee round the top mark first with Wildfire hot on their heals. Tinto was a bit further back, but again this was short-lived. Another less than ideal spinnaker launch saw Wildfire sail over By The Lee.
With a close eye on Tinto, defensive mode kicked in. Wildfire extended their lead, and the fleet closed in on By The Lee with both Tinto and Stamped Urgent getting past. Provided the gap was no more than three placings and a result of fifth or better, By The Lee was okay.
The next thing I saw was Tinto doing a gybe upwind, which I later understood was as a result of contact being made with Stamped Urgent. With a generous port lift, By The Lee crossed ahead of Stamped Urgent, and as a result of the penalty, Tinto was back in sixth.
At the end, it was Wildfire recording their second win, By The Lee coming home in second place and securing the Championship, with Stamped Urgent crossing the line in third which also resulted in being awarded third overall by one point over Wildfire. A very consistent effort across the 11 races saw Tinto drop their sixth place, finishing second just three points behind By The Lee.
And so it was onto to the prize-giving with a traditional dinner overlooking the beautiful North Haven Marina. The last few bottles of Rosé were handed out, and the winner of the genoa was awarded to Jack Fullerton on Two Dogs, who sailed an excellent regatta finishing fifth overall, just five points off the podium.
After seven attempts, it was Brendan Lee, Rory Groves, Dan Cave, Peter Lee and Keren Reynolds on By The Lee picking up their first National Championship.
In usual J/24 style, the night went on with plenty of laughter and cheer. The 2019 Championships was a great success. A special thank you to the CYCSA, J/24 SA organisers and volunteers and to the sponsors Dog Ridge Wines and Loong Sails for their support.
We look forward to seeing you at the Victorian Championship regatta in Victoria being held on the 30th and 31st of March 2019. (Photo is By The Lee, skipper Brendan Lee and crew. 2019 Australian J/24 Champions.)