As the Mandurah Easter Regatta drew to a close in sunny skies and light winds, memories of Sunday’s wild conditions faded. The passage of a cold front during the early hours of Sunday morning left big waves fanned by a twenty knot onshore breeze, with stronger gusts in the squall lines.
Race organizers paid close attention to the conditions, forecast and weather radar, and after a short postponement on shore, sent the crews out to the three courses to complete the day’s demanding program of four back-to-back races.
It was tribute to the tenacity and skill of the mainly-junior sailors, together with the support vessels, that the racing was completed without major incident. Deserving special mention are the fifty-eight young 420, Laser Radial and Laser 4.7 athletes on the exposed Bravo course, who showed remarkable courage and boat preparation to complete the day’s program with only one retirement.
Legendary visiting coach Mike Fletcher, a veteran of nine Olympic campaigns, was enthusiastic about the unusual format of the regatta, which allows coaches to communicate with their charges during actual racing.
'The ability to give tuning and tactical instructions to young sailors in genuine race conditions is very rare. It is an incredibly effective way of helping the messages stick', said Fletcher.
Local coach Belinda Stowell, 470 Gold Medallist at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, led a Youth Camp for elite young sailors at Mandurah in the week leading up to the regatta.
Luxury Coaches - the coaching panel included such luminaries as Belinda Stowell, Craig & Suzzi Ferris, Peter Gilmour & Mike Fletcher. - Mandurah Easter Regatta - Antonio Stefano
'We have crews heading for the Youth Worlds in Croatia, as well as the ISAF Perth 2011 World Championships off Fremantle in December', stated Stowell. 'Perth 2011 is the biggest sailing event on the planet – three times bigger than the Olympics and the main qualifying event for London 2012. The rough and windy conditions on Saturday and Sunday are pretty much what we can expect in December, so the Mandurah regatta was terrific training for the young athletes.'
Outstanding results included Ben Walkemeyer in the Laser 4.7s, who won all ten of his heats, Australian Youth Champion Matt Wearn in the Laser Radial, who won the first nine heats and had a cruisey third in the last, and the elite Queensland 420 team of Angus Galloway and Alex Gough, who recorded nine firsts and a fourth as part of their preparation for Croatia.
In the Laser Standard, Andy Leyland’s impressive four firsts and five seconds were plenty to give his yacht Out of the Blue a comfortable win.
Things were tighter in the 29er, with Tess Lloyd and Lewis Duncan snatching a hard-fought victory from Ella Giudice and Courtney Higgins. In the small RS:X Sailboard fleet, Patrick Vos did well to fight back to win the class from Eamon Robertshaw after missing two races on day one with sail damage. The fleet included Sam Treharne, who traveled to the regatta from Sydney.
In the Optimist Gold fleet, the talented young sailors made light work of the demanding conditions on Chris Kelly’s inshore Alpha Course, which included surfing down breaking waves on the heavy days. The results were close, with Conor Nicholas sailing Da Boat winning from Richard Maher’s Whoopy Doo and Sophie Opieluk’s Zhik Lok. The less-experienced Optimus Silver fleet saw Jayden Dalton sailing Suzi Q dominate, from the consistent James Stewart in Raptor and Matthew Troncone sailing Terra Rise.
The Flying Ant class featured an outstanding performance by Emerson Carlsberg and George Boulden sailing Rodeo Clowns, who won all ten heats. The Tasar class, contesting its State Championship, saw a similar performance from husband and wife team Scott and Julie Olsen’s Unleashed, who again successfully defended their state title. Scott’s parents, Sue and Robin Olsen, together with Mandurah Rear Commodore Kevin Luff, form the backbone of the organizing committee for the regatta, and Robin is also the Principal Race Officer, and the Race Officer on Bravo Course.
The Mirror class also conducted its State Championship at the regatta, with crews traveling from as far as Dunsborough and Albany. Intense competition for the podium places resulted in a narrow win for Game On, sailed by Liam Wilson and Mick Mallawarachi with 14 points, from Simon and Sidonia Barwood’s Bulletproof (16 points) and Paul Terry and Harry Sutcliffe-Woelders from Albany sailing Knot Too Risky (17 points).
The spectacular Moths were foiled by the conditions, showing a marked dislike for the choppy seas. In the end, completing the final two heats with wins was enough to give Mandurah sailmaker Phil Smith, sailing Flying Circus, victory in the regatta.
Out on John McKechnie’s high-performance Charlie Course, the powered-up Olympic 49er skiffs suffered some carnage on Surfin’ Sunday, with a number of retirements and pitstops for running repairs. The final result in the high-quality fleet saw Luke Parkinson and Jasper Warren’s Maverick and Goose (not sure who is who) victorious over Tom Johnson and Leo Showell sailing Suit Up and David Gilmour and Paul Kelly’s 1189, and the unlucky Steven Thomas and Nick Brownie’s The Stig, who missed five races with gear failure.
The single-handed Contender dinghies saw another masterly performance from the popular John Cassidy sailing Black Tie, who was kept honest by Richard Shallcross in Firehorse. The Formula 16/18 catamarans turned into a shoot out between the locally designed and built Windrush Edge F18 racing team of Lockie Gibson and Josh Fugill sailing Windrush Formula Success and Brett Burvill and Ryan Duffield sailing Windrush Racing Edge. After reaching barely legal speeds in the fresh conditions, it was the latter crew who snatched a narrow one-point victory.
The Fireball fleet had mixed fortunes, with the iconic Gordon Lucas teaming with Mandurah teenager Max Puttman in Second Wind to win the regatta, but not without sustained pressure from Gattaca, sailed by Adam Brodziak and Darren Thomas. Mandurah sailing legend Lance Rock, now a sprightly 73 year old, along with young crew 'Calamity Kate' Lathouras, ran out of yachts after sinking ASM on Saturday and breaking the mast on a spare Fireball on Sunday.
The early finish to their regatta allowed the irrepressible Rock to join his crewmates on the S&S34 Bird of the Morning for the start of the Visit Indonesia Fremantle-to-Bali Race on Tuesday.
Mandurah will host the Fireball World Championship at the end of this year, which has generated renewed interest in the class in Western Australia.
Full results here
Focussed - A committed Annalise Gilbert took on the boys in the RS:X Sailboard class. - Mandurah Easter Regatta - Antonio Stefano Click Here to view large photo
Top of the Class - 420 winners Angus Galloway & Alex Gough, visiting from Queensland, are in good form for the Youth Worlds in Croatia - Antonio Stefano Click Here to view large photo