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J/111 Australian Nationals during Festival of Sails

by J/Boats 2 Feb 2019 15:36 PST 26-28 January 2019
Fleet colour on the final day - 2019 Festival of Sails © Salty Dingo

As many as 200,000 people are believed to have enjoyed the festivities of the Geelong Waterfront this past weekend as the city played host to two major events the historic Festival of Sails and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

The Festival of Sails is the largest annual keelboat regatta in the Southern Hemisphere with over 300 yacht entries and 3,000 competitors annually taking part in the event. First held in 1844, the Festival of Sails Regatta (held over the Australia Day Long Weekend) is one of the nation's oldest sporting events, and has evolved over many years culminating in its current format as Australia's foremost keelboat regatta.

Festival of Sails Chairman Stuart Dickson said beautiful weather, exciting racing on Corio Bay and Port Phillip Bay and a smorgasbord of entertainment combined for a terrific event. He explained, "this weekend, the Royal Geelong Yacht Club welcomed hundreds of boats and thousands of sailors, including participants from overseas and every state and territory, to our city. This is fantastic for the event and for Geelong."

Joust tops Australian J/111 Nationals

The Festival of Sails concurrently hosted the 2019 J/111 Australian Nationals, sailing in gorgeous Corio Bay. From the very beginning, Rod Warren's very talented team aboard Joust threw down the gauntlet by winning the first race. They never looked back, winning four more races over the three days and having to toss a second place to win with a perfect score of five pts in five races!

Meanwhile, there was a real battle for the balance of the podium with everything going down to the wire on the last day for the two contenders, Phil Simpfendorfer's Veloce and Rob Date's Scarlet Runner. After the dust cleared from the battlefield, it was evident Team Veloce's crew were up to the task, posting a 3-2-4-2-1-4 for 12 pts net to take the silver. Rounding out the podium to take the bronze was Scarlet Runner with a 2-3-2-5-5-3 tally for 15 pts net.

J/121 wins AMS cruising division

Meanwhile, sailing in the offshore, random-leg, AMS Cruising Division was the new J/121 Javelin. The crew has been on a roll since winning the ORCV 2018 Winter Series. Skipper/ owner Mark Nicholson and team took on many of Australia's best offshore teams, sailing the biggest and most competitive division in the entire Geelong Festival of Sails. Starting off with a sixth place on the first day, Javelin took off on their fleet, posting a 2-4-1 to finish with 13 pts and convincingly win their division six points clear of the next boat, a pro'd up Soto 30! Here is their report.

For the J/121 Javelin, the event kicked off with a 32nm passage race from St Kilda in Melbourne, across Port Philip Bay to Geelong. Two start lines of 230+ boats set off at 9.30am in light 4-5 knot southeast winds. J/121 Javelin was in the first start of 100+ yachts of all shapes and sizes, including 32 yachts in the AMS 1 division. This division featured yachts from a Soto 30, through a Caprice 40 (second in its IRC division in the recent Sydney/Hobart) all the way up to a Reichel Pugh 63 (third IRC overall in the Sydney/Hobart).

J/121 Javelin was buried on the start but set to the task of reeling in the competition, with the strategy to keep slightly left of the course to take advantage of a forecast wind shift. Javelin flew their Code Zero most of the way (albeit it was hoisted and dropped half a dozen times along the way!). The last stretch passed through the tight shipping channel with the wind peaking at 16 knots, and Javelin sailing on a close reach. Their strategy worked and they finished 6th in their division in the passage race. Plenty of celebratory drinks accompanied the Australia Day fireworks display held at the Regatta Village.

Three further races were held over days two and three, with two of those races having to race back through the shipping channel to open waters. This made for some spectacularly close racing where water rights dominated sailing rights. The fleet of 70+ yachts (up to 65 footers and including some big cats) worked together to get through relatively unscathed (though a few boats ventured a few metres outside the channel and ran aground). Javelin successfully tried a wing-on-wing strategy for a short while with the A2, managing to both gain clear air and separation from competitors. Conditions were pleasant once past the channel with flat water and breeze ranging 12-14 knots. Javelin finished second in race two.

A twilight race was also held to take advantage of the stronger afternoon breeze, building to mid-20's, though quite shifty. After a general recall, Javelin had a clean (and conservative) start, and powered over 10-12 yachts on a tight 2 sail reach. The A3 kite was hoisted at the top mark for what looked to be a beam reach. However, the wind shifted just after the hoist and the A2 would have been a better choice. Javelin maintained their position finishing fourth in Race 3.

Going into the final day of racing, Javelin was in the lead position, with only a few points separating the first six yachts. She sailed a clean covering race in perfect sailing conditions, sunny, flat waters and 12-14 knot breeze. The results came in and Javelin finished first in Race 4 and, therefore was declared the overall winner in her AMS 1 class!

J/24s love Corio Bay Sailing

The Passage & Twilight Series was sailed under the EHC handicap rule. A gaggle of J/24s enjoyed tight racing with each other, with just 2.5 pts separating them in the final tally. Top J/24s, sitting in fourth handicap was Simon Grain's Jet. Just behind them in fifth was Miles Hurrell's Scrumpy, and only a half point back was Pauliina Mattila's Bruschetta VI.

Like their sisterships, Jeff Harris' J/24 FUN enjoyed the Corio Bay series, taking a fourth for their weekend of fun-loving experiences on sunny Geelong Bay.

Watch the highlights video, including several interviews of the J/111 Class owners.

Follow the Festival of Sails at festivalofsails.com.au

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