by Jeff Owen
Geoff Fisher (Qld) has won back to back Contender Australian National Championships followed by Clay Cook (WA), Andrea Bonezzi (Italy, resident of Vic) and Dan Kohlman (Vic). Mathew Vandervoort (NSW) took out the junior trophy and Alan Griffith (NSW) secured another masters walking stick.
Geoff Fisher on his way to back to back titles. - 2011/12 International Contender Australian National Championships - Mc Crae Yacht Club
The 2011/12 championships were enthusiastically sponsored by Soho Lawyers, Zhik and Pertaringa Wines and were conducted at Mc Crae Yacht Club on the Mornington Peninsula over five days between Christmas and New Year.
The event commenced with an invitation race where McCrae contender legend, Peter Randall was special guest and was on hand to present prizes.
Peter was kind enough to field questions from current day sailors about his time in Contenders which reinforced his status within the class. On the water, Andrea Bonezzi put in a powerful performance before retiring, and eventually Geoff Fisher took out the prize, followed by Dan Kohlman and David Leask (NSW).
Andrea Bonezzi, Peter Randall, Comordor Steven Berryman and Jeff Owen before the Invitation Race - 2011/12 International Contender Australian National Championships - Mc Crae Yacht Club
The weather for the main event was dominated by flat water and shifty offshore winds ranging from 10 to 18 knots with the exception of day four which was an abating five to six knot cross shore wind. The eighth race was abandoned due to lack of wind.
Geoff Fisher put in a solid series with a radical new spreaderless rig which included carbon rod rigging, intermediate stays and carbon reinforced mast. Geoff was able to secure three wins. Western Australian, Clay Cook a recent convert to the class managed two wins and Andrea Bonezzi (Seven time world champion) also managed two wins.
Andrea Bonezzi - 2011/12 International Contender Australian National Championships - Mc Crae Yacht Club
In total there were 28 competitors from six states. The diversity did not stop at locality with the boats and rigs also being developed along several different paths.
With the 2014 World Contender Championships to be held in NSW, there is plenty of interest being generated within the class. There are several Australians planning to head over to the US for the 2012 Worlds in Florida and also to Italy for the 2013 Worlds in a lead-up to 2014.
Special thanks must go to McCrae Yacht Club for a well run event, but also the event sponsors Soho Lawyers, Pertaringa Wines and Zhik for their support and ongoing interest in the class. Results can be found on the McCrae Yacht Club website.
Alan Griffith collects the Masters title - 2011/12 International Contender Australian National Championships - Mc Crae Yacht Club
Contenders start. - 2011/12 International Contender Australian National Championships - Mc Crae Yacht Club