The Australian Flying Dutchman Championships were won by Norman Rydge (NSW) and Jordan Spencer (SA) with a race to spare.
Conducted by the Adelaide Sailing Club in conjunction with the Australian Tasar Championships, the boys beat a small but talented fleet. There was a determined campaign from Michael Chapman and Alan Griffith of NSW, Ian McCrossin and James Cook former multiple World Champions attended, as did former National Champions Peter Higgins and Doug Rawson-Harris, plus a fleet of new and experienced hands.
With seven races over five days, there was opportunity for a variety of conditions and Adelaide didn’t disappoint. A strong heat wave settled over SA at the start of the regatta and never really disappeared. Day 1 saw two races in light and shifty conditions with high heat. Race 1 was characterised by big shifts and multiple leadership changes. In the end it was won by Chapman and Griffith after half the fleet owned the lead at various stages. Race two was an all the way win by Rydge and Spencer. They sailed fast and smart to claim the victory. Second, third and fourth was decided within 1 boatlength of the line. The first of three finishes, where second, third and fourth finished within a second or two of each other. At the end of day 1, Chapman/Griffith, McCrossin/Cook and Rydge/Spencer where tied for the lead.
Day 2 was even hotter and a total glass off on the water. Racing cancelled for the day. Into the New Year, it was a lay day on the first and two more races on the second. By now a strong 20kn S’Easter was blowing and being an offshore breeze it was shifty. It was an all the way win in race three for the Rydge/Spencer team, from the hard charging Higgins/Rawson-Harris combo and Ian Dixon and Phil Webb. In race four, Rydge and Spencer got on the wrong side of the first shift, with McCrossin/Cook taking the early lead, but it was the only mistake they made and they had gained the lead by the halfway mark of the race and went on to win from McCrossin/Cook.
The second last day of the regatta was another two race day. From the boat park, it looked to be another S’Easter, but this time lighter than the day before. However, as the boats setup for race 5, it started to wind up from the SW. Soon it was 20kn and building. McCrossin and Cook charged out of the gate and were never headed. They were chased hard by Rydge and Spencer, but no matter what they tried, they couldn’t make any in-roads. The intensity of these two boats in tough conditions saw them gap away from the fleet. Race 6 was windier again, topping 25kn, with some gusts moving the racing into survival mode. Rydge and Spencer blasted away from the fleet, handling the tough conditions well. For a while second was McCrossin/Cook, but when they swam at the wing mark, they opened the door for Higgins/Rawson-Harris to move up, but the gap to the leaders was large and they held on easily to win and take the series.’
The final race was back to the light stuff and more heat and saw a mighty battle between the three boats fighting for the minor placings. McCrossin/Cook were second, two points in front of Higgins/Rawson-Harris who were two points in front of Chapman/Griffith and there three boats fought tooth and nail throughout the last race. The lead move from McCrossin/Cook, to Chapman/Griffith and back, and then back again, with Higgins/Rawson-Harris after a slow start closing them down into the last part of the race. With a few 100m to go Higgins/Rawson-Harris hung left and hooked a lift to cross the line, bare seconds in front of Chapman/Griffith and McCrossin/Cook. So it was a tie for second, with McCrossin/Cook taking it on a count back from Higgins/Rawson-Harris.
For the winners, it was their first regatta together after having competed against each several times in different classes. Both enjoyed the experience and felt they worked very well as a team, committing to work together again. For the class, it was a successful event, and proved once again what a great racing boat the FD is.