Youth Regatta a firm favourite

Sunrise on Moreton Bay
Peter McIntosh
There were dugongs in the water and sailing gongs on the podium for teenagers who travelled to Manly, Queensland, to compete in the OAMPS Queensland Youth Week regatta.

Queenslander James Hodgeson and Klaus Lorenz took out the hotly contested 420 class, followed by Drummoyne’s Finn Gilbert and Louie Collins. Third place medals were collected by Gosford Sailing Club’s Sophie McIntosh and Elise Ryan.

It was a special moment when the two NSW Youth Development Squad girls were congratulated by one of several inspirational special guests, Elise’s brother 470s Olympic campaigner Will Ryan who crews for gold medallist Mathew Belcher, who also spoke about his pathway to success.

The competition, held in predominantly light conditions on Moreton Bay, featured two crews warming up for the next world titles in Valencia, Spain, later this month - Xavier Winston Smith and Joshua Dawson (fourth) and Dante Olivieri and Alex Marzano (eighth).

Sophie McIntosh and Elise Ryan between races in 420s. - OAMPS Queensland Youth Week
Peter McIntosh

The 26-strong 4.7 Laser fleet was won by Darwin’s Hamish Wiltshire from Queensland’s Cameron Gise and Victorian Jack Graves. A seventh overall, including a first in the final race, was a great result for Gosford’s Jordan Makin in his first year in the class. Jordan was Sophie’s crew when they won the Sabot two-up nationals a few years back and finished fourth in the Sabot one-ups in Victoria earlier this year which was won by Finn Gilbert (see above) who seems to shine in every class he steps into.

The 27-strong Sabots were won by Ezra Pritchard from Southport Yacht Club from locals Ben Markey and Natalie Bridge.

In the 29ers, Queenslanders Charlie Wyatt and Tom Siganto Club won from NSW’s George Stent and Shaun Connor and Harry Price and Angus Williams.

The parents have some fun. - OAMPS Queensland Youth Week
Peter McIntosh
Former F11 champion Kurt Hansen, who honed his sailing skills at Gosford, joined forces with Harry Morton from Belmont up the road to grab fifth spot as the pair prepare to compete at the 29er world titles in Aarhus, Denmark, later this month, along with Price and Williams. Harry is the younger brother of Olympic silver medallist Olivia Price.

It is truly inspirational for a young sailor from Gosford Sailing Club such as Kurt to demonstrate to those who are still learning and developing in junior classes at his modest sized club that competing on the international stage is indeed possible at a relatively young age, recognising, of course, that it is a costly exercise but not always beyond reach.

The 14-strong Flying 11s were taken out by Tom Grimes and Chelsea Williams from the very strong Belmont club, followed by Hornsby’s Lauren Gallaway and Claire Byrne and Vaucluse sailors Grace Shipway and Jessica Marr.

Overall team honours this year returned to NSW, ahead of Queensland and Victoria, yahoo!

This annual five-day Queensland youth week regatta has become a firm favourite with those in the know. Believe me, if you make the trek up the much improved highway from NSW to Queensland to this highly enjoyable event once, you will be hooked. I’ve been to three of four now and really look forward to it.

Held during the school holidays it is a great opportunity for a family getaway, with the The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron at Manly allowing people to camp on site at reasonably rates and wonderful motor launch and yacht spectator boats often provided free of cost by local volunteers. This year I thoroughly enjoyed going out daily on a 50-foot cruiser-racer Beneteau named Mattrix. She is owned by wonderfully hospitable locals Jane and Dave who once raced in youth classes as teenagers themselves and now get into blue water racing on their spectacular and beautiful boat.

A prankster hoisted a rubbish bin up a Viper's mast. - OAMPS Queensland Youth Week
Peter McIntosh
This year the initial camping trials of our first day or two which featured almost unrelenting heavy rain were quickly forgotten when those aboard were treated to a sail around Moreton Bay islands after the kids had finished racing one day and the breeze they had missed out on finally kicked in at 15 knots. With the sun setting and warm breeze it was simply sensational, sure beats Dreamworld in my book but you could take the kids there if you get a chance to fit it in. These are the things that make the effort of mucking around in tents to keep costs down, all soooo worthwhile (a week of camping for about $220 and entry fees are not too bad). More comfortable on-site unit-style accommodation is also available if booked early enough and you can literally walk to good local restaurants as groups of parents of kids regularly did when not barbecuing it.

This regatta is on the same time each year and features many youth classes, from Optimists, Sabots, 4.7 and Lasers Radial, Flying 11s, 125s, 29ers, 420s, Pacers, Bic Technos, Vipers. For an idea of competition numbers how’s this: there were 69 Optimists this year, but Sabots were still strong with 27. And Laser and Laser Radials were around 26 each fleet, the 29ers were similar, with F11s about 15. Even some Kiwi boats turned up and took out top honours in a couple of classes - Leonard Takahashi-Fry in Optimists and Cullen Le Roy in Laser Radials.

When kids sail in big fleets they get better, no question, and they have a great time socialising. At presentation, as at previous years, there were inspirational Olympic campaigners speakers and on the water, yes, the odd dugong did make an appearance, well I saw one anyway. See you next July!