While Australian SB3 sports boat champion Jono Shelley remains as a front line contender to defend his National crown during the Audi Port Stephens Race Week from April 11-17, he received a wake up call last weekend.
Shelley gained an important insight into the speed sailing performance of major rival Rod Jones when he deputised for Jones at the helm of Club Marine Blue to win the Audi Sydney Harbour regatta Silver Medal.
However the English skipper was handed a lesson in one design sports boat racing by World champion Olympic 470 class helmsman Matt Belcher and crew Malcolm Page who despite contesting their maiden regatta in the class proved to be the master tacticians winning all six races. Mind you midboat was an SB3 sailor of note - 1976 Olympic 470 Bronze medallist Ian Brown and 12years old Finn Gilbert.
Belcher and Page are destined to represent Australia at the London Olympics in 2012 took a temporary and welcome break from their 470 Olympic dinghy to return an impressive performance in an unfamiliar class.
Both Belcher and his One Design Sailing crew mastered the variable 8-16 knot breeze winning the first race by 23 seconds from the Jono Shelley steered Club Marine Blue and then proceeded to firm their grip on the championship trophy by scoring a runaway 2 minute 33 second victory over the persistent Club Marine Blue crew in race 2.
Jono Shelley well known for his ‘never say die’ attitude was forced to accept racing in catch up mode with the One Design Sailing Crew cleverly dictating the match race with superior tactics and boat speed to eventually record a perfect score of six from six races.
Normally the margins are relatively close but the World champion Olympic class skipper demonstrated why he is regarded as a potential Olympic Gold medallist when he steered One Design Sailing to a super fast 7 minute 12 second six race aggregate over the SB3 class National champion.
However while Jono Shelley was forced to ‘lick his wounds’ he is still ranked as one of the top contenders along with the Sunshine Coast’s Rod Jones for the 2011 Audi Australian championship.
However these two teams will have a major obstacle to overcome, World Moth and 49er Champion Nathan Outteridge will be back on board the SB3 One Design Racing for the SB 3 Australian titles at Audi Port Stephens Race Week from April 11-17.
A month later Outteridge, Brown and Irishman and Class world president, David Cheyne, who won the Audi Docklands SB3 series and went on to win every race in the SB3 series at Audi Victoria Week, will quite probably start as favourites in the 2011 SB 3 Worlds from May 16-20th at Torbay UK
Also competing at the Worlds will be Jones and his SB3 experienced one-design crew.
Lauren Calder and her all female crew who race under the Audi Sunshine Coast Girls ‘Battle flag’ will also represent Australia in England where 121 crews representing 14 nations will duel for the prestigious international trophy.
Skipper Calder and crew remain unfazed about matching the required tactical skill and endurance in a fleet dominated by a number of the World’s best one design sailors.
The 2012 SB3 Worlds will be held at Hamilton Island in December 2012.