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No napping for Siesta at J24 Nationals

by Di Pearson on 10 Jan 2006
Sakamoto and his crew sailing Siesta (JPN) did not win a race on the opening day of the Australian J24 National Championship, the pre-event for the upcoming J24 Worlds, but their pair of second places was enough to give them the lead at the Sail Melbourne event being hosted by Sandringham Yacht Club.

Sailed on Port Phillip in conditions that went from light and fluky to blowing dogs of chains, the Siesta crew did not have time for napping during the two races completed today. They lead the Mike Ingham skippered Brain Cramp (USA) by seven points, although Ingham won the first race, but could not consolidate, finishing 11th in race two.

New NSW champion, Sean Kirkjian, steering Death Star (AUS) is currently third, but tied on 11 points with the American’s. Kirkjian, from NSW, finished his day with a fifth and a sixth.

'Our big picture is the J24 Worlds. We are using this as a warm up,' the Sydney sailor said.

Although the Death Star crew are third overall, they lead for the trophy, being the top-placed Australian crew, with another Ausssie crew, and West Australian champions, the Sean Wallis steered Fly Emirates, in fourth place overall and Doug McGain’s Code Violation (AUS) fifth overall, but third Aussie boat.

A Brazillian entry, Bruschetta, skippered by Mauricio SantaCruz, is in sixth place. The Brazilians brought their own boat to Australia, unable to find a charter boat, but had some trouble locating and then retrieving their boat from Customs.

Serious as the situation was, Bruschetta’s Italian owner, Paolo Bodido, made it sound comical. 'It took us three days to get our boat from Customs. When I flew in and arrived at the Club (Sandringham), I expected to find my boat already there, but that was not true – it was being held by the authorities here. Apparently they were concerned about bugs and spiders that might be hiding in my boat – it took me two days to get it back.

'I really did not want to get involved, but when three days went by, I felt I had to. I went with someone from the Club to the terminal and at first we could not even find the boat, but finally we find – it was in a special area on a platform. I thought we would need a forklift to get it down, but the officials said no, you can’t do this, we will do this – and finally they put in on the forklift and charged me $900.00! Unbelievable!'

More amusement as the Brazillian crew do not speak Italian and Bodido does not speak Portuguese. So I asked the owner, well how do you talk to each other? 'We speak the international sailor’s language – English of course!'

A number of international entries are sailing in the Championship, warming up for the worlds that begin the day after the Nationals finish. It is the first time many have sailed on Port Phillip, including the Canadian entry, Single Malt, which is holding 15th place.

Crew member Chris Pytlik said of his experience, 'it was a little bit crazy,' and crew mate Kerry Colbourne agreed. 'There sure was a variety of conditions out there. We had calm and had to wait two hours for wind, when all of a sudden, we had up to 42 knots, so there was a little bit of carnage – there were spinnakers splitting and jibs going too.'

Pytlik’s skipper, Tadeusz Bartlewski commented, 'it’s pretty much a warm-up for us. It’s not our equipment (the boat is chartered), so we are testing it and we didn’t have too many problems.'

For Aussie skipper, Grant Willmott, who sailed Crackerjack in 26th overall from 31 entries, damage was very much on his mind. 'The conditions clocked right around the compass out there. We bailed out of the second race when the squally hit. We really wanted to make sure we are in good shape for the worlds and didn’t want to risk any damage.'

Racing continues on Port Phillip today.
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