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Western Australian Flying Fifteen Championship at Esperance Bay Yacht Club

by Bernie Kaaks 22 Apr 08:20 PDT
Western Australian Flying Fifteen Championship © Bernie Kaaks

Storm conditions forced the cancellation of the first of a three day Gemmill Homes Flying Fifteen State championship hosted by the Esperance Bay Yacht Club so it was decided to reduce the regatta to a six race, two day affair.

A score line of 1-2-1 after the first three races led most people to the conclusion that the 2018/19 State championship would be another easy win for former world champion Nick Jerwood. Sailing with sail maker Brad Sheridan instead of his wife or daughter, he looked invincible. A sixth in the fourth race of an abbreviated series rattled the champion and worse was to come with a lowly fourteenth is the penultimate race.

David Yu and Chris Nelson sailed well in the first two races but a tenth in race three relegated them to fifth at the end of day 1 in contention but with work to do. Starting the second day with a win and a second, the combination looked set for a boilover win, but when the title was there for the taking, Jerwood showed all his class by charging through to the lead at the end of the first of three laps and pulling away to win the final heat. Yu and Nelson never really got into top gear in the final race and though the gap was not great, had to be content with a seventh place.

Both Jerwood (Ineffable) and Yu (Tuffan Up) finished with a total of 25 points but after dropping their worst, Jerwood claimed the championship with a four point buffer.

Glamour Buoys, sailed by the enigmatic Greg Leaversuch and Peter Barblett, had a consistent regatta to finish with the same net points score as Tuffan Up, but placed third on a countback.

Philippa Packer, sailing Firefly with former world champion Dean McAullay was the top female skipper and finished fourth outright.

The handicap trophy went to Terry Newby and Leanne Fallows sailing the silver class Eagle Eye.

A frontal system crossed the south coast on Good Friday, bringing with it icy conditions, strong winds, hail and the threat of snow on the Stirling Ranges near Albany. On the two days of competition, conditions were generally light, particularly on the first race of day two, but all sailors commented on the cold temperatures the experienced out on the water.

It speaks volumes for the strength of the Flying Fifteen class when 35 boats travelled to a venue more than 800 kilometres from the city in order to compete. Several boats came from Geraldton, a further 400 kilometres to the north.

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