The 2012 John Cootes Furniture A Class Australian Championships are being sailed from the Wangi RSL Amateur Sailing Club on Lake Macquarie NSW and after four races have been completed, seven times A-Cat World Champion Glenn Ashby leads, courtesy of three wins and a second.
Second overall is his long time Olympic class skipper Darren Bundock, with 2011 A-Cat World Champion Steve Brewin in third. Wangi local hero Nathan Outteridge, dual 49er World champion and Moth World champion is fourth, followed by America’s Cup skipper James Spithill and four times Laser World champion Tom Slingsby, fifth and sixth respectively.
Andrew Landenberger, who finished fourth at the 2011 Worlds, is seventh ahead of the leading Grand Master, 56 year old Simon McKeon, 2011 Australian of the Year.
David Loutit, the leading Master is 21st overall, while Adam Beattie, the top ranking Junior, is 22nd. Carolijn Brouwer the leading female sailor is 28th overall, an impressive performance as she has sailed on A-Cats just four times.
Race 3 of the Series started in a light, seven knot easterly after two general recalls, under a black flag.
Tom Slingsby was first to the top mark, ahead of James Spithill, Nathan Outteridge, Bob Baier then Darren Bundock and Brad Collett. Steve Brewin was back in ninth ahead of Andrew Landenberger but on the second lap the leading group changed.
Brewin was ahead of Baier, with the three first lap leaders now buried. Brewin had a solid light weather win finishing 40 seconds ahead of Ashby who powered past Bob Baier and Bundock on the last run. Slingsby, Spithill and Outteridge finished ahead of Landenberger, Olympic Tornado silver medallist Jack Benson and Scott Anderson, the 2011 A-Cat Worlds runner up.
It was a big step forward for Brouwer in her third ever A-Cat event, finishing 18th behind McKeon. Oracle Racing’s Dirk de Ridder and John Kostecki finish 34th and 36th respectively.
Race 4 started in a ten knot easterly. With a blistering start Outteridge led Spithill, Stephen Brayshaw, McKeon, Slingsby and Bundock, with Ashby two places further back.
But Ashby, the downhill king, powered into the lead. Bundock finished second ahead of Outteridge and Spithill.
Brewin was sixth, Slingsby eighth, McKeon ninth, ahead of Anderson and Baier. Brouwer was 20th. Kostecki was 33rd and de Ridder was OCS.
Glenn Ashby was smiling (as you’d expect) as he signed back into the boat park. ‘We are almost at the half way mark in this regatta and it's looking like it might be light for a bit longer.
‘If that happens, Stevie (Brewin) is always the one to beat. He is the long-time, light wind specialist and Darren (Bundock) is light too and really consistent.
‘This is one of those places where both sides of the course are working, the middle is a bit wobbly sometimes.
‘Although you can rip off really fast one way and have good speed, if you don’t keep your eyes open you can get caught. I had some shocking beats today but getting a second after being fourth at the top mark on the last downwind, knocking Darren off and slipping through past Bob (Baier) at the finish behind Steve was a fantastic result.
‘I’m very happy with a two – it’s definitely a keeper in this fleet.
‘I managed to get off the start line well in the last race and had a clean line at the top mark. It’s a lot easier when you can have your bow in front and you can steer where you want to and gybe when you want to and tack when you want to. It was nice to come away with a win in the second race.’
Steve Brewin was pleased with his race 3 win. ‘I was ninth at the top mark and then sailed into the lead down the first run. These conditions suit me, I am a little lighter and I power up a bit earlier.
‘In the second race I went to the right and the breeze bent left. Massive loss, a couple of hundred metres - Goodnight Irene.’
Darren Bundock, now firmly in second place overall, was he usual relaxed self as he hosed down his Cat. ‘That last race I actually had a really good start and I crossed everyone and then I tacked and just parked and ended up tenth at the top mark.
‘Luckily I had an awesome downwind. I was third by the bottom and I had a little bit of pace on Nathan (Outteridge) and I got him on the second downwind.’
Jamie Spithill commented ‘Lighter conditions today, which was just a different set of challenges but I enjoyed it. It was very tactical and I had a couple of good races, but it was pretty tricky downwind.
‘It seems Tom Slingsby and I seem to have our own little match race out there. It’s the battle of the red heads.
‘The approaching storm kept the wind speed down and kept it right because normally it should get dragged left and kick. It will be interesting to see what happens tomorrow.’
Nathan Outteridge explained ‘In the first race I just got lost on the downwind and I missed a bit of a puff and then on the second beat I didn’t fly a hull for two minutes and everyone just went right around me. It was a bit tough but after that I caught up on the next lap to get a seven.
‘The second race was good. I just nailed the pin end start, tacked on the lay, ducked and weaved a bit and then the only ones who tacked in a good spot were Tom, Jimmy and Glenn. It was just a convergence on the top mark.’
Tom Slingsby was looking a little rueful. ‘I just haven’t practiced in light winds downwind and I was just losing five boats every downwind. I would gain on some of them back up the beat. I need more time in the boat. I am improving but not quick enough.
‘The first race was good. I led around the top and lost my usual five downwind and then gained two at the beat and then lost five, and in the end it was good learning.’
The 2012 John Cootes Furniture A Class Australian Championships continues until January 7.
Series Results [One Design ET] up to Race 4
Place Ties Sail No Bow No Skipper Div
1 AUS111 01 Glenn Ashby 5.0 1.0 2.0 1.0 1.0
2 AUS888 88 Darren Bundock 11.0 2.0 4.0 2.0 3.0
3 AUS4 04 Steve Brewin 14.0 6.0 1.0 3.0 4.0
4 AUS973 15 Nathan Outteridge 18.0 3.0 7.0 6.0 2.0
5 AUS975 12 James Spithill 29.0 4.0 6.0 9.0 10.0
6 AUS972 16 Tom Slingsby 33.5 8.0 5.0 5.0 15.5
7 AUS308 03 Andrew Landenberger 34.0 13.0 8.0 7.0 6.0
8 AUS958 58 Simon McKeon GM 35.0 9.0 17.0 4.0 5.0
9 AUS902 02 Scott Anderson GM 37.0 10.0 10.0 10.0 7.0
10 AUS10 10 Brad Collett 45.0 15.0 14.0 8.0 8.0
21 AUS957 57 David Loutit M 91.0 24.0 28.0 21.0 18.0
22 AUS920 79 Adam Beattie J 92.0 22.0 25.0 23.0 22.0
28 NED88 06 Caroljn Brouwer L 119.0 20.0 18.0 41.0 40.0