by Shane Smith
On the weekend of 27th/ 28th October, Southport Yacht Club was host to the Queensland Match Racing Championships for the third successive year. Despite a few teams withdrawing from the event, five teams contested the event, two Sunshine Coast teams from Noosa, Mooloolaba, one Brisbane team, Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron joining the two teams from Southport Yacht Club, with current State Champions from Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club being the ones to beat.
2012 Queensland State Match Racing Championships
The forecast for the weekend was for strong southerly breezes but the weekend started out a little better than expected, so racing got underway on schedule for two flights of racing before breezes topped 37knots stopping the racing for the remainder of the day. It was a testing start for the teams from MYC (Mitch Kennedy) and RQYS (Sasha Ryan) with both teams having first race losses to the SYC team of Sophie Lahey, John Bucknall, Melissa Turner and Tom Siganto before the racing was cut short for the day.
An early start to day two had the teams rigged and ready by 8:30 for a long day of racing in conditions only marginally better than the previous day. With the winds still over 20 knots and gusts to 28 knots the race committee made the decision to run racing without spinnakers and push on with the program finishing the first round of racing and proceeding straight into Semi Finals. Round one leaders from Noosa (Klade Hauchildt) chose to race fellow Sunshine Coast sailors from Mooloolaba (Mitch Kennedy) and went on to win the battle 2-1 in the windy testing conditions to progress to the final. Spinnakers were providing the biggest challenge to handle but the Blazer 23's were handling the winds well so the PRO continued with kites to provide the finalists with the best possible racing.
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The next Semi Final was the battle of the SYC teams skippered by Sophie Lahey and Joel Turner. These two teams provided the closest race in the qualifying series so tensions were high and both teams pushed to gain the upper hand. Race one was awarded to Sophie and her team after establishing a port starboard advantage, and after having to avoid collision lost crew overboard. With winds gusting to 30 knots it was excellent skills to avoid damage at the speeds the boats were travelling so the teams lined up for race two. In a race that was very close with various lead changes the team of Joel Turner, Joe Sabin, Kyle O'Connell and Chris Percy secured victory by the smallest of margins and race threes win to Joel Turner secured the Finals spot.
The Finals best of three series was a strong start for the Noosa Team, leading the race from start to finish after a starting error in the pre start by the SYC team. The final margin of 21 seconds. Race two and the roles were reversed with the SYC team holding their nerve and controlling the start and following the race plan and staying closer to the opposition to minimise risk, they went on to win the race with by 10 seconds taking the series to a final race decider.
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The last race was very close and intense with protest flags flying and umpires tested with the calls as the teams pushed for any advantage they could get. In the end the two boats were less than two metres away from each other as they went tack for tack up the first leg with the SYC team just in front at the top mark. Just after the spinnakers were set there was a big increase in breeze and in 30 knots the blazers took off. The Noosa Team rolled over there rivals wind and tried to sail around the outside as they approached the bottom mark but the Noosa Team failed to break the overlap and a last minute gybe proved to be their undoing as the bowman slipped of the deck and went overboard.
With the boat's rudder collecting the mark and tangling with anchor it was left to the SYC team to complete the race uncontested and take the race and series win. They did it in style with a fast speed spinnaker run in the building breeze to cross the finish line and win the crown.
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The win gave SYC its first Queensland Championship Open win and also secured the team the Queensland Youth Championships title for Turner. The Queensland Women's Match Racing Champions were the team from RQYS of Sasha Ryan, Georgie Toner, Carissa Bridge and Elise Ryan.
It was a very good performance by the Southport Teams and the club should be proud of the way these sailors represented the club and the skills they showed in the tough and testing conditions.
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Final Placings were:
1st - SYC - Joel Turner, Joe Sabin, Kyle O'Connell, Chris Percy
2nd - NYRC - Klade Hauchildt, Ali Blundell, Ben Vercoe, Fergus
3rd - SYC - Sophie Lahey, John Bucknall, Melissa Turner, Tom Siganto (Jack Sherring - Reserve)
4th - MYC - Mitchell Kennedy, Madison Kennedy, Reece Baguley, Lachlan Young
5th - RQYS - Sasha Ryan, Georgie Toner, Carissa Bridge, Elise Ryan
A big thank you to the race officials Louise Davis, Reece Foort, Rob Davidson - our umpires Drew Hulton - Smith and Phil Kellond - Knight and mark boat crew of Peter Lahey and Mark Dingley.