by John Adair
Leonard Takahashi (NZ) clinches flight A final race
Hosting the largest Optimist regatta ever in Australia, the Pittwater (Newport) waterway staged the Australian Nationals from ninth-16th January 2011 with 172 competitors from Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Japan and Germany.
Four races were completed in variable winds (predominantly ENE) ranging from 8-14 knots. Last year’s winner, Nia Jerwood from Fremantle, emerged the early leader. Leonard Takahashi (Wakatere) finished the day in 10th with fellow Kiwis, William Novak (Worser Bay) scoring second place in race 2 and Tim Adair (Wakatere) scoring a bullet (1st) in race 4.
The wind whipped up considerably on day 2 which the fitter and heavier sailors relished as the day progressed. Starting NE 15 knots it peaked around 27 knots NNE with a lot of chop. With another three races completed bringing the total to seven, the critical first drop also came into play with New Zealand’s Tim Adair jumping to fifth place overall. Leonard T sailed a great race 6 easily crossing the line first, only to discover he had been OCS.
With the pressure best out of the left with the occasional right hand shift, the leaders followed this path favouring the left hand side of the track as they worked their way up the first beat in the upwind start, working the shifts to the top mark. The downwind saw the fleet parade straight down the middle of the course with boat speed and boat control proving to be the telling factor.
The second and third races of the day played out much the same although the wind freshened considerably, consistent across the course.
Day 3 – Teams’ Racing
Sailed in a fresh 15-20 knot North Easter, gusting to 25 knots, the format saw eight teams sail off one another in double elimination series, where a team that loses two races is eliminated. The teams were made up of a combination of Club, State and an International team comprising the New Zealanders (Tim Adair, Leonard Takahashi, William Novak) and a Japanese entrant (Ben Perkins). Team WA won all their four races taking first place, with the International team comprising 3 Kiwis coming joint third.
After a lay day, the wind had slackened off considerably and the fleet were forced to wait ashore for the AP to come down. In very fickle WNW wind of barely 2-5 knots, only one race was completed.
Race eight flight A saw Chris Charlwood from WA get his first win of the regatta after posting a number of close second and thirds in his previous races. Second place went to Tim Adair from Wakatere, NZ who showed great consistency with a win and a numerous top five placings in this regatta following his disappointing first race OCS. At the end of the penultimate day’s racing, only five points separate the top six places.
Day 5 revealed another frustrating day for the race committee with barely enough wind to race all day. The first and only race of the day got away shortly after 1100hrs in a dead northerly before shifting left. After a general recall, the Z flag was raised and Leonard Takahashi from NZ won the start clearly at the pin end of the line playing the shifts, going left then right, then up the middle on the first beat to round the top mark in front. The wind shifted and then died out with the thoughts of blowing the race going through the mind of the PRO. The New Zealander opted for a lane on the right hand side of the course on the run to the finish to hang in there to take the win in a very close finish over Tyrone Gowans.
West Australian Chris Charlwood clinched a bullet in the second flight to pull into a one point lead and thus win the championship over last year’s champion Nia Jerwood. New Zealand’s Tim Adair finished fifth overall, having led the final race until he rounded the bottom mark with a clear lead and then a massive 180 degree shift in 0-2 knots of breeze saw him move from first to 12 place and helpless to prevent it.