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That man Lilley

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 12 Jan 2020 13:00 PST
Jake Lilley Takes to the water at Brighton © John Curnow

When he won the medal race at the recent Finn Gold Cup, it was not some random event. Jake Lilley has been at it for a while. It's called work ethic, and it is something Jake is absolutely not short of. Over the journey you always knew it was there, but definitely in the last 12 months, something of a transformation has taken place. Actually, no, it is more of solidification, a gelling, and a conversion into the thinking man's sailor. Yes. I very much enjoy talking with him. It is fun, interesting and beneficial. What more could you ask for?

So on the enforced lay day during the recent Etchells Australian Championship, Jake wanted to take out his Finn for a blast before the significant Southerly buster arrived. He had not used this particular vessel for a while, so it was a sound plan ahead of the impending Sail Melbourne event, and as the strong Northerlies abated from fresh to frightening down to delightful and joyous, I got to speak with him once more as he prepared to take to the water.

Yes. He is clear, precise, focussed, and I just admire his dedication to mission. You go get 'em lad. He has the Great Man, one John Bertrand, in his corner - I am not surprised...

Not all that much earlier, as Melbourne delivered yet another of the huge number of events is conducting this Summer, Matt Wearn took out the Australian Laser Championship. He too is a worker, and said, "It was a tricky event. There was some interesting weather throughout the week, but it was great to get in some racing when there were less than ideal conditions on some of the days. It always feels good to win the Nationals, and even more so this year with the competition we had. The Kiwi boys pushed us hard all week long. It's a great confidence boost going onto the Worlds in a month's time."

I asked his coach Michael Blackburn for a little detail on what it all meant. They were trying conditions, what made them so and how did Matt perform? "Melbourne looks like a venue where it's all about speed in those waves, but decision-making is pretty challenging too, because the breeze is driven by two key sources: the local bay breeze, and also the ocean sea breeze and they tend to fight each other a little as they blow from similar, but slightly different, directions."

There was hot competition, not just local but more precisely from the Kiwis - what made it so? "Yes, the Kiwis were very solid with a 2-3-4 result. They are a great bunch of sailors, along with a great coach, Mark Howard. They thrive on Melbourne conditions, because it's kind of cold, like Auckland.

How does it all stack up for the Worlds? "It'll be exciting to have a guy called Tom Burton back for the Worlds. We'll get a guide to his current form during the Oceania regatta next week. Otherwise, my guys, and everyone else entered for the Worlds has been working hard in different parts of the world. A number of countries will use the Worlds as their final Olympic selection regatta, so it'll be interesting to watch various battles within the fleet."

Are you on track with your programme for Tokyo? "100% on track!" Thanks 'Blackers', as he is known. He too is precise with his words, and equally just as entertaining to talk with.

So seeing as we were based at the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, it is important to note that they are also the Victorian Club of the Year. It has definitely gone through a transformation of late, and the removal of the railway is just a small part of it. The venue now is very much community minded, with everything from Ice Berger swimmers and paddle boarders, to bikers and sailors all accessing the club daily.

About 18 months ago, RBYC management engaged world-class coach, Adrian Finglas as Head Coach, as well as Francesco Battaglini who runs all the Discover Sailing programs. You will not find more passionate people when it comes to junior sailing. This was evident when I attended the graduation of the latest round of Tacker One, Two, and Three sailors. As a result, they are definitely attracting the next generation of children and helping them fall in love with sailing.

Under their guidance, RBYC's junior program has exploded, with many children from the local community trying sailing for the first time. "We want to make sure families feel like this is their second home, and sailing is the sport for all the family to be involved with. We must make sure our sport is accessible to all in the community," Battaglini said, "And at RBYC we can do that, as the club has equipment for all levels. If you are in Melbourne and want to find a great spot for the family to visit then see the team at RBYC, for you won't find a better venue in the nation."

Heading offshore now, and the Showtime's keel coming off is a disaster, but unlike others in recent times it is not a tragedy, as all were saved. Our Managing Editor, Mark Jardine, and I do believe this is an important safety message, firstly because the crew were spot on with their reaction. The second is because the appendage that was on there was not the original one as fitted to the Ker 40.

Jason Ker himself states, "...the keel lost by the Ker 40 'Showtime' was not designed by Ker Yacht Design. The yacht had a retrofit keel fitted, designed by its owner's local design office near Sydney, and built by a local fabricator."

"We have designed a great many keels over the last 23 years, which have been constructed by many different builders around the world, and none have ever failed. To the best of our knowledge, Showtime is the only yacht designed by us to have had a keel fitted that was not designed by us."

"The keel, designed by the owner's local Naval Architect, was configured as a vertical hollow strut welded to a horizontal mounting plate, which in turn was sitting in a shallow recess in the boat's hull and bolted to the boat's structure. This is not a design approach we would ever endorse, as the high stress point at the junction is coincident with the horizontal welded joint."

"The skipper of the delivery voyage, Rob Buchanan, and his crew only survived through extremely calm thinking, and bravery under stressful circumstances. Rob woke hearing a metallic 'ping', just before he was thrown across the boat from his windward bunk as they capsized."

"While they made their plans to escape it was apparent to Rob that the inverted boat was holding air pressure in the hull, so the top plate of the keel can only have remained fully bolted to the yacht. When the crew swam down out of the boat, they saw that the vertical part of the keel was missing, revealing that the keel had failed at the welded joint between the exposed vertical and the recessed horizontal part."

"Ker Design would support any World Sailing move to ban this low cost but high risk style of 'welded T' keel construction."

QED me thinks. Right oh - there is plenty of information on the site for you to review when you can. Please avail yourself of it.

Now if your class or association is generating material, we can help you spread your word just by emailing us. Got this newsletter from a friend? Would you like your own copy next week? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. Whilst there, you can also register for other editions, like Powerboat-World.

Finally, keep a weather eye on Sail-World. We are here to bring you the whole story from all over the world...

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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