by Bernie Kaaks
Flying Fifteen National Championship - Great Britain’s triple world champion Steve Goacher teamed up with the winning skipper from last year’s Flying Fifteen Nationals, Matt Owen, to secure the Golden Anniversary National Championship for the class. The union resulted in Owen winning an Australian title in successive years, one as helmsman and one as crew!
David Yu and Chris Nelson saved their best till last, with a well fought third place - Flying Fifteen Nationals
The championship was conducted on Perth’s picturesque Swan River and hosted by the South of Perth Yacht Club. Conditions varied through the week, with fresh south westerlies early, which gave way to some very light easterly breezes later in the week as weather conditions were influenced by a cyclone hovering off the north west of the State, and finished in a reasonably steady 12 to 15 knot easterly on the final day.
Before the start of today’s race, Goacher’s assignment was simple. To win the title he had to ensure that he did not allow Alan Bax and Simon Childs to finish more than three places ahead of him. As it happened, both finished worse than seventh, so today’s race did not influence the scoreline for either boat.
The result was a huge triumph for the three visiting British crews, who took out the first three placings in the regatta. The trio showed remarkable consistency, so much so that the worst placing for any of them was a fifteenth in the 58 boat fleet. Individual brilliance by several of the Australians from time to time was offset by the odd disaster in their scoreline and even with the benefit of two drops, they could not match the visitors.
Today’s race was a triumph for Adele Jackson and Dean McAullay. They suffered a horrible day yesterday, starting out with a black flag disqualification in the first race and tenth place in the other two races – their worst scores for the week. Starting sensibly near the centre of the line today, the pair were clearly focused on controlling the centre of the course. The played the shifty easterly well, ignoring the massive proportion of the fleet which headed off to the north side of the course on the first beat, and led at the top mark, with Adam Hawkins, Mike Hart, Graeme Lillingstone and David Yu in hot pursuit.
Positions remained static on the square run, but on the second beat, Jackson/McAullay were very disciplined in sticking to their game plan to open up the gap to the chasing pack, but on the first reach the pack brought some fresher breeze down with them and once again that gap was back to about 30 seconds between first and second. Goacher and Bax were doing what they had to do, well back from the leaders, and Hart had an uncharacteristic 'lose' at the gybe mark, opening the door for David Yu and Chris Nelson.
Positions remained relatively stable during the final windward and return leg, so in a massive turnaround, Jackson/McAullay took the win ahead of Hawkins/Jones and Yu/Nelson, with Mike Hart finishing fourth.
Steve Goacher and Matt Owen therefore take home the Australian Flying Fifteen Championship trophy, with Adele Jackson and Dean McAullay being the best all-Australian crew.
Geraldton’s Adam Semple and Lisa Greeve won the silver fleet trophy with a four point buffer over Hank Heimans and Alan Sharpe, while Ray Ellard and Ken Treharne won the Classic championship without having to sail today.
Final Top 10:
1. 3988 17 Steve Goacher/Matt Owen
2. 3987 20 Alan Bax/Simon Childs
3. 3775 22 Mike Hart/Richard Rigg
4. 3933 27 Adele Jackson/Dean McAullay
5. 3781 30 David Tucker/Matt Summers
6. 3881 30 Adam Hawkins/Ben Jones
7. 3670 35 Graeme Lillingstone/Ed Repsevicius
8. 3743 43 Greg Tonnison/Steve Roberts
9. 3859 45 David Yu/Chris Nelson
10. 3982 58 Chris Paterson/Rupert Leslie
Final Silver Fleet:
1. 3085 10 Adam Semple/Lisa Greeve
2. 3224 14 Hank Heimans/Alan Sharpe
3. 3312 15 Murray Latham/Tony Pugh
Final Classic Fleet:
1. 2756 6 Ray Ellard/Ken Treharne
2. 2012 11 Peter Paton/Narelle Thomas
3. 2115 20 Wayne Hudson/Brianna Hudson
Flying Fifteen National Championships website