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Festival of Sails 2012 - Families meld in Melges

by Lisa Ratcliff on 29 Jan 2012
Festival Of Sails 2012, Royal Geelong Yacht Club, Geelong Parks Victoria Melges 24 National Championships, Teri Dodds/ Festival of Sails © http://www.festivalofsails.com.au/
The Melges 24s are contesting their nationals at the Festival of Sails at Geelong and among the highly competitive one design class, multiple family combinations are sailing for and against each other.

The four Walters boys, Keal, 16, Harley, 13, Tavish, 10, and Logan, 8, are the youngest family members.

The two older boys, Keal and Harley, are sailing with their dad Heath on Arriba! Arriba!, which is currently sitting third on the Parks Victoria Melges 24 Australian Championship pointscore.

'We don’t mind beating each other,' admitted Harley, looking sideways to his brothers for consensus.

On yesterday’s Corio Bay outing he said, 'It was really hot so we all jumped over and had a swim when the race was abandoned. The racing is fun and really close, it’s hard to come back if you get behind though'.

This is Harley’s third Australian championship these school holidays, the others being in the Manly Junior and Optimist class. The talented young sailor’s result at the latter was good enough to qualify for the Australian Optimist team.

Tavish, who raced in the Green Fleet at the Optimist nationals in Queensland, is crewing this week on No Comment with his uncle, Murray Walters, while Logan is making up the 30kg deficit onboard Anthony Passmore’s Planit.

It’s a long day for the boys at the Festival of Sails, particularly for the youngest. And if being out on the water for eight hours a day in the sun hiking out on these super quick one design boats isn’t enough, there is the ‘tennis trap’ awaiting each evening – staying up late watching the business end of the Australian Open.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for the Walters family from Mona Vale on Sydney’s northern beaches. Heath, wife Tracey and the four boys drove to Geelong after a one night stopover at home immediately following the Opti nationals.

'There’s a nice pile of stinky camping gear waiting at home for us,' said Tracey.

'We didn’t really look at the calendar properly before we committed to regattas in Queensland and Victoria,' she admits.

So tight is their schedule that Tavish and Logan will miss their first day back at Mona Vale Public School on Monday.

The plan for the Walters family is to train up and be competitive for the Melges 24 Worlds, which are being held in San Francisco next year.

'The Melges is the ideal class for competitive sailing families where the kids want the speed and excitement,' Tracey added.

Other families sailing in the Melges class at the Festival of Sails are:

- Dylan Passmore sailing on Planit with dad Anthony

- James and Will Dargaville crewing on board Matilda with dad Jim

- David Shanks crewing on Outrage Us with dad Gary

- Daniel and Bonnie Nixon crewing for Kevin Nixon’s Accru

- Four Farrimond brothers – Scott, Michael, Adam, Dale – racing together with dad David on Vitesse

The Melges are out on Corio Bay today in a 12-15 knot southerly breeze working through their three scheduled races with the final two windward/leewards to be sailed tomorrow, the final day of competition
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