Lou Abrahams ‘Next Challenge’ crowned 2012 Sydney 38 National champion

The protest flag flies on Whisper against Outlaw coming to the finish in race one - Sydney 38OD Australian Championship 2012
Damian Devine
The Lou Abrahams owned, Mark Bulka skippered ‘The Next Challenge’ has been crowned the 2012 Sydney 38 national champion with a comfortable 12 point win.

Hosted by The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club over the past three days, the nationals attracted 15 entries and one of the strongest fleets in years with close racing on the Palm Beach circle the highlight of the series. Nine races were sailed in a variety of conditions ranging from very light shifting breezes to a gusty Sou’ Easter reaching 20 knots at times.

Mark Bulka skippers 'The Next Challenge' to victory for Lou Abrahams - Sydney 38OD Australian Championship 2012
Damian Devine

Leading into the final day, ‘The Next Challenge’ had a handy but not unassailable eight point lead over ‘Outlaw’. They just needed to continue their consistent form shown over the previous two days and stay out of trouble to win. They managed to do so with a 1-6-6 finish on day three. So with two heat wins, three seconds, two thirds and two sixths for the series ‘The Next Challenge’ from Victoria had a series scorecard of 26 points, proving that consistency wins regattas.

’Outlaw’ (the father & son team of Alan and Tom Quick), from the CYCA, were placed second on a count back from ‘Whisper’ (Bruce Ferguson) from the RPAYC after a nervous wait in the protest room when ‘Whisper’ protested ‘Outlaw’ for proper course on the final run to the finish in race one of the day. The protest was dismissed and the results were official with both finishing on 38 points.

The plan for the final day was to complete four races but only three were managed by the race committee due to a shifting and fading breeze. In the nine races sailed, there were six different winners highlighting the strength of the fleet in this one design class and the quality of the sailors.

Race Officer Ted Anderson got the fleet away on time at 11100hrs in a 10 knot easterly as forecast. With the pin end favoured, the fleet got away to a clean start with ‘’The Next Challenge’ jumping clear of the fleet to dominate the race with superior speed to win comfortably from defending national champion, the Clift/Foye ‘The Goat’ whilst Mark Griffith’s ‘Old School’ was third. The only incident was the protest by ‘Whisper’ on ‘Outlaw’ coming into the finish.

‘Old School’ got the jump in race two of the day with ‘The Next Challenge’ and ‘Eye Candy’. ‘Old School’ picked a faster lane to lead at the top mark and were never headed winning comfortably for their second win of the championship from ‘Whisper’ whilst the Clinnick/Holden ‘Audacious’, another Victorian picked up their first podium of the series with a third.

Action at the start on Day Three - Sydney 38OD Australian Championship 2012
Damian Devine

The final race was one of the closest in the championship with the Clift/Foye ’The Goat’ returning to the winner’s circle for the second time in the series to beat ‘Old School’ and Gordon Ketelby’s ‘Zen’ in a tight finish.

With a first, second and a third ‘Old School’ was awarded boat of the day and fourth overall on 40 points.
Owner/skipper Mark Griffith, the pre-event favourite after winning the four previous regattas in a row, will no doubt be reflecting on their disqualification on day one, contemplating what may have been.

The championship was sailed in good spirit and the race management team, lead by Ted Anderson are to be congratulated for their on water management in testing conditions.

A presentation at the RPAYC concluded a very successful National Championship.

Congratulations to the legend Lou Abrahams, who now has a couple of national crowns to his name, and ‘The Next Challenge’ crew who were clearly the best performed boat of the championship.

‘The Next Challenge’ Skipper Mark Bulka reflected on the championship win saying, ‘it’s great to do this for Lou, he really wanted to be here. This crew have sailed together for a long time and they really worked hard and the boat just kept responding. We knew we just had to stay out of trouble today so after the first race when we won, we literally took the foot of the pedal and just avoided any infringements and sailed safely. We’ve really enjoyed the regatta and look forward to taking the trophy back to Victoria.'

FINAL PLACINGS
1st THE NEXT CHALLENGE Lou Abrahams SYC 26 points, 6, 6, 1, 3, 1, 2, 2, 3, 2
2nd OUTLAW Alan & Tom Quick CYCA 38 points, 4, 8, 5, 5, 4, 5, 1, 2, 4
3rd WHISPER Bruce Ferguson RPAYC 38 points, 5, 2, 6, 2, 3, 4, 5, 4, 7
4th OLD SCHOOL Mark Griffith RPAYC 40 points, 2, 1, 3, 4, 5, 1 ,3,16Q, 5
5th ZEN Gordon Ketelbey MHYC 52 points, 3, 7, 7, 7, 2, 8, 4, 1, 13
6th RISK Anna & Martin Cross RPAYC 54 points, 8, 5, 4, 6, 7, 3, 6, 9, 6
7th THE GOAT T. Clift / B. Foye CYCA 65 points 1, 9, 2, 1, 12, 10, 10, 8, 12
8th EYE CANDY G.Ward / C. Dawson RPAYC 74 points 9, 12, 9, 8, 10, 12, 7, 6, 1
9th CALIBRE G.Bonus / R.Williams CYCA 77 points 10, 4, 11, 10, 6, 6, 9, 10, 11
10th AUDACIOUS G.Clinnick / P.Holden RBYC 78 points 7, 3, 14, 9, 13, 9, 8, 5, 10
11th THE BOLTER Rick Welch RPAYC 89 points 13, 11, 8, 11, 8, 11, 12, 12, 3
12th ELENI Tony Levett MHYC 92 points 12, 10, 10, 12, 9, 7, 13, 11, 8
13th THIRLMERE S.Warneford / L.Jamie MHYC 106 points 11, 14, 13, 13, 11, 13, 15, 7, 9
14th CONSPIRACY D.Hudson / P.Byford RPAYC 125 points 15, 15, 12, 14, 14, 14, 14, 13, 14
15th RUSH Neil Sutton DSC 129 points 14, 13, 15, 16C, 16F, 15, 11, 14, 15

For all results visit: http://www.rpayc.com.au/results/2011/events/syd38australianchampionship/series.htm

Downwind sailing action in the Sydney 38 Nationals, the race for second and third between Whisper and Outlaw - Sydney 38OD Australian Championship 2012
Damian Devine

The Victorian ‘Audacious’ picked up a third on the final day - Sydney 38OD Australian Championship 2012
Damian Devine

The father and son team of Alan and Tom Quick aboard Outlaw finished second on a countback - Sydney 38OD Australian Championship 2012
Damian Devine

Melges 32 Australian Championships day 2
Ash Stephens
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