The International Dragon Class held the Ted Albert Memorial Regatta today (Thursday 2 January) on the stunning Swan River in Perth, Western Australia as a prelude to the Prince Philip Cup (Australian Championship), which commences on Friday 3 January.
Pin end starts
A fleet of 26 Dragons including State entries from WA, NSW, VIC and Internationals from the UK and Germany competed with sailors ranging from age 11 - 87 years!
PRO John Taylor advised at the morning briefing that the breeze should range from 12 - 15 knots with higher gusts from a direction of 220 - 240 degrees. He was spot on except most sailors did not expect the breeze to swing by 20 degrees on each leg of the course!
Having trailed his Dragon all the way from Sydney, Nicholas Hogg’s Forever Young was an early retirement when his rudder appeared at right angles to the boat on the start line of Race 1. The remaining fleet got away cleanly and Andrew Foulkes Tatsu made early gains from William Packer in Scoundrel in hot pursuit. But it was the 87 year young Gordon Ingate sailing Whimsical who ground down the fleet getting in phase with the shifty pressure bands. Gordon, who celebrates his 88th birthday in March, raced in the 1965 Admirals Cup and onboard Gretel ll in the Americas Cup, took the first gun of the day, followed by William Packer in Scoundrel with Ron Black in Nereus chalking up third.
The breeze just perked up a notch for Race 2 with gusts of 17 - 18 knots and in the rush for the favoured start pin, the fleet got a bit over eager and PRO John Taylor waived the infamous black flag.
Gordon Ingate absolutely nailed the pin after the general recall and looked to establish an early lead when the breeze swung wildly right and the pack was re-shuffled.
After racing he explained, 'We didn't tack quick enough after the start in the second race, the breeze was very tricky today, not doing what it was supposed to do on Perth waters, it’s a bit like Weymouth!'
Multiple keelboat world champion Thomas Muller from Germany, sailing a chartered boat (Sinewave), was also a victim of the ‘snakes and ladders’ saga.
Those that did go right prospered, including Peter Bowman’s Aeolus, a 50 year old wooden Dragon in mint condition and local sailors Trish Ford in Canewdon Witch and Sandy Anderson sailing Solveig - showing that female skippers were a force to reckon with.
However, it was the 75 year young Rob Black crewed by another 75 year old veteran Syd Lodge and a slightly younger John Hay who persisted to master the shifts and take the lead on the second lap to score the bullet in Race 2. Western Australian Andrew Foulkes (Tatsu) made up ground to take second ahead of Peter Bowman’s Aeolus.
William Packer’s Scoundrel was well placed until they went shrimp trauling at the gate dowsing the kite under the bow and dropping to the back of the pack.
With all races to count, the final race would decide the 2014 Ted Albert Memorial Regatta and again the start would turn out to be crucial. This time the individual recall flag was raised and four boats were announced as OCS on the radio. Sadly, most of them were not paying enough attention, or in one case, had a flat battery in their radio - which would ultimately prove very costly!
WA sailor John Anderson (Achenar) took the early lead from a slowly improving team skippered by Robert Campbell (UK) aboard Linnea with William Packer (Scoundrel) in close pursuit.
Robert Campbell and his ace crew John Moncrieff, John Low and James Stout sailed past John Anderson downwind and created a big lead totally oblivious to the fact that he was called OCS!
Little changed until the last leg of the longer three lap race course when the breeze was softening and some late comebacks were on the cards.
Rob Campbell sailed over the finish line in silence handing the win to William Packer and his team onboard Scoundrel. Gordon Ingate (Whimsical) sailed a blinder of a last leg to cross second ahead of Rob Black (Nereus), who thought that his third would win him the regatta but alas, disaster strikes, he was also OCS!
The drama handed fourth place and overall honours to Andrew Foulkes and his crew, Andrew Bennett and Matthew Stafford sailing Tatsu. Gordon Ingate’s Whimsical clinched second overall with crew, David Jiles and Brad Sheridan and a very consistent team skippered by multiple world champion, Grant Alderson and crewed by, Dean McAulley, Adele Jackson and 11 year old Lucy Alderson.
After racing Lucy, who usually races an Optimist at RFBYC, described her role on the boat: 'I furl the jib, I am ballast monitor, pump the boat and control the side stays.'
Clearly Lucy is a going to be a future champion in the very near future!
The Prince Philip Cup begins on Friday 3rd January and continues to Thursday 9th January, organised by the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in conjunction with the West Australian International Dragon Association.
Results top six after three races (three races to count)
1 AUS203 Tatsu - Andrew Foulkes 4, 2, 4, 10 pts
2 AUS217 Whimsical - Gordon Ingate 1, 10, 2, 13 pts
3 AUS184 Taranui - Grant Alderson 5, 6, 5, 16 pts
4 AUS170 Icefyre - Ron Packer - 6, 4, 7, 17 pts
5 AUS173 Solveig - Sandy Anderson - 9, 5, 8, 22pts
6 AUS214 Scoundrel - William Packer - 6, 4, 7, 23pts