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Portland EyeCare Taipan Catamaran Australian Championships 2018/19 at Portland Yacht Club

by Anthony G Richards, President TCAA 14 Jan 01:38 PST 28 December 2018 - 4 January 2019
5.7 winners John Newman and Peter Bartlett - Portland EyeCare Taipan Catamaran Australian Championships 2018/19 © Mary Tulip

Held on the pristine waters off Portland Victoria, the Taipan Catamaran Association of Australia (TCAA) celebrated its 30th birthday in style with an outstanding National Championships run by Portland Yacht Club.

On the water, 19 x Cat Rigs, 6 x Sloop Rigs and 7 x 5.7's enjoyed magnificent conditions with a range of wind speeds and swell conditions throughout the week. The racing across all fleets was intense, with multiple lead and podium changes during the 12 race event.

Off the water there were a feast of social activities with a focus on families. We had a host of sponsors, including; Portland EyeCare, Concept Fibres, Goodall Design Australia, Treloar Roses, DP Marine, Porthaul, Musto and Glenelg Shire.

In the Cat Rigged fleet, there was no less than five National Champions and three Runners Up in the field, making it the most hotly contested in recent years. There were six different heat winners and positions were swapped on every leg of every race. The title came down to two contenders and wasn't concluded until the last beat of the last race. Leigh Hein from Portland YC notched up his second National Title from last year's Runner Up, Will Richards from Ballina. Luke Donovan, also from Portland YC, made the podium in third place, followed by Dave Parker and Ant Richards in fourth and fifth respectively.

New to the Cat Rigged fleet last year, the Master's category was again in full swing and was equally hotly contested. Lachie Cameron from McCrae YC came away with the new perpetual trophy, donated by Craig Harden at Sail trophies, with Wazza Morse in second and Mark Colecliffe in third.

In the Sloop Rigged fleet, it was fantastic to see the various crew combinations. There were husband and wife, father and son, father and daughter, and experienced/newcomer mixtures. We had four juniors crewing; Caitlin McMahon, Evelyn Floyd, Maxine Jopp and Lachlan Vise. The racing was dominated by Brad Hein and newcomer Tim O'Toole from Portland YC., with nine bullets from 12 races. Runners Up were Rohan and Roellen Gillmore from Mt. Martha sporting a beautiful brand new boat (less than a week old!), with Evan Steele and Caitlin McMahon from SA rounding out the top three. For mine, one of the highlights was watching the skipper's trade places with their crews on the return trip to the port. Their smiles said it all!

There's nothing like watching 5.7's screaming downwind with kites flying. This year we had seven of them and the competition was wide open. After each day's racing, the chase for the title was either tied, or there was a point in it. With scores level and a big breeze on heading into the last day, it was McCrae's John Newman and Peter Bartlett taking the win by one point, from Kim Luitjes and Ben Clark from Lake Cullulleraine. Kim's son Tom came in third place crewing for Wayne Hancock from SA.

Another new addition this year was a State of Origin clash in the 4.9 Cats and the 5.7 fleets. Using a modified scoring system to incorporate the highest and lowest placings for the event, it was the NSW crew taking out the 4.9 Cats, with the Vic's romping away with the win in the 5.7's.

On the social side, this year's event was outstanding! It is the TCAA's 30th birthday, so we started the week off with a sit down Q & A with none other than the designers of the 4.9, Jim Boyer and Greg Goodall. It was fascinating listening to how the boat came about and some wonderful stories of years gone by. There was also some family friendly activities throughout the week including a fantastic trip to Bridgewater Beach on New Year's Day, the Doherty Plumbing Laser Challenge, Tackers 1, 2 & 3 for the kids, as well as various other fun activities throughout.

To add to the excitement, this year we unveiled the new 4.9 straight from the Concept Fibres factory. It has been a labour of love for Rohan and Roellen Gillmore to get this 'baby' onto the water and it certainly looked amazing! Even fresh out of the box, it performed extremely well placing 2nd overall after literally only being launched the previous week. Rohan, the team at Concept Fibres, Richard Nicholson and Jim Boyer have put an incredible amount of work to get this off the ground, so if you're interested in purchasing your own, please contact Rohan direct at Concept Fibres on 0412 977 371.

As if this wasn't enough, we also unveiled a new Development sail aimed at attracting youth and female skippers to the class. Developed with Glenn Ashby and North Sails, the design brief was to create a smaller mainsail but using the same mast and boom set up. It came out looking a treat with lots of discussion in the boat park. The sail will be available for use and is currently kept in Melbourne. If you're interested please contact Ant Richards on 0409 231 980. It will be shared around, but we are looking to purchase a number of sails through the Association to allow all states access. Exciting times ahead!

We're looking forward to heading inland to Lake Bonney in South Australia over the New Year period. It should be a cracker!

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