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Sport for Life

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 19 Dec 2021 13:00 PST
Whisper, who won the inaugural Australian Maxi Championship. © Andrea Francolini

Much is often made of the fact that sailing is a sport for life. It was the overriding thought that stayed with me as I reflected on a new event that will get under way on January 3, 2022. Simple reason is that there are bound to be sailors covering many an age bracket taking to Sydney Harbour for the David Forbes Shield Regatta.

Once I got past that point, there was the wonderful aspect of paying tribute to David Forbes OAM, who together with John Anderson OAM won Olympic Gold in Munich in the venerated Star Class.

The David Forbes Shield Regatta is an open regatta for all boats that one time have been registered as an Etchells. It is all about the racing, getting all sailors out on the water, being competitive, but doing so in a fun and friendly environment, as well as being inclusive of shore crew, so if you're in anyway involved, it is bound to be a great, and spectacular four days.

It is acknowledging everyone's precious time, and to that end the focus is on proper racing, done efficiently. The on-water umpire observation is a part of that, so that 'the room' can stay empty. Several of the sailors taking part have all expressed sentiments about it being close, tight racing that adheres to the rules, so play nicely now...

There are up to 12 races to be conducted from January 3-6 inclusive, with the main aim to work into the prevailing weather systems as best as can be done. Three races makes a series, and there is a drop after the seventh. Three of the last four World Champions are in the fleet, as too the last eight Australian Champions in the class.

Indeed, as is usual with this sort of racing, current AST, VOR, AC, other class champions, Olympians, and Medallists will be smattered throughout the fleet, so if you're boating during that time on the Harbour, there will be some great racing to watch for all on board, given it will be fairly short courses.

There will be over a dozen, and maybe up to 20 vessels comprising the fleet, which is impressive given it's holiday time and other national titles are under way, but it does show just how much everybody loves this close knit, tight racing, where anybody can have their day. Apologies have already been received from Perth's Swan River Fleet, who are still dealing with Covid restrictions.

A former Australian Champion in the class himself, David Forbes commented, "It's a great honour to be recognised in this way. My relationship with the Etchells goes way back to 1967 when I sailed with Skip Etchells in the original trials to select a new keelboat for the 1972 Olympic Games. I was able to help Skip out in between my Star boat campaign."

"Even though we won every race, sometimes by a leg, the Soling was chosen since the Etchells was considered too wide to tow around Europe! How times change."

"All the very best to what is shaping up as a highly contested regatta!"

David Forbes has mentored a lot of people who have come through yacht racing. Richie Allanson did his first international event with David, and that was the 1988 Kenwood Cup in Hawaii. Allanson recognizes not only the importance of that to him, but also the high esteem Forbes is held in by so many, all over the globe.

John Bertrand AO is one of the sailors very much looking forward to it all, and reflected not only on that, but just how important David Forbes is to the Australian sailing scene. "To name this regatta after David Forbes is very appropriate. David is one of the greatest sailors this country has ever produced."

"The Olympic Gold Medallist in the super competitive Star class at the '72 Olympics, it is important to note that he achieved this with no coaching, and no financial assistance. He was one of the most naturally gifted sailors ever to compete for Australia, a wonderful ambassador for the sport, and a mentor for many including myself."

"I look forward to some red hot racing. In particular having Australian Sailing Team members integrated throughout the fleet is a wonderful opportunity for these young world class sailors to cross swords with the 'old' legends!"

The regatta is to be held under the auspices of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, who will not only administer the racing, but also handle the full social calendar, as well. Commodore Christian Brook commented, "The Squadron is excited to host this regatta recognising the achievements of David Forbes."

"We welcome all sailors to our first event of the year and look forward to fair winds and good times at the club."

Feel so lucky

And that's simply because it has been quite a while since I have been able to talk about loads of local events. Proof of concept was the quintessential notion remaining after seeing the inaugural Australian Maxi Championship attract such a good fleet. Presented by Income Asset Management, the format rocked, the sailing covered quite the spectrum, and best of all, boats and their crews got a good hit out to get things sorted before Boxing Day, and the race that captures the nation.

I am sure the Australian Maxi Association will continue to develop both as an organisation and for additional key events that will be spawned following on from this tasting plate.

The CEO of Income Asset Management, Jon Lechte, commented "The series was a great success for our firm and we look forward to continuing to be the major sponsor of the AMC series and partner of the CYCA. He suggested the IAM products are in some ways similar to sailing. They offer bonds and deposits to investors seeking income, not just capital gain. Like Sailing, a successful income investment requires a plan, the ability to execute changes swiftly and efficiently – but mostly it is about patience and incremental wins. More slow and steady! The sailing community will see the IAM name around the club for many years to come."

Just about everybody was there, except for Queensland entries like Stefan, only because of Australia's intriguing border issues. The hot racing, and high levels of participation definitely got all the sailors attention, and I reckon they'll be looking for more than tasting plates to devour in 2022. Congratulations to David Griffith's JV62, Whisper. 'Griffo' is a really nice person, so it all seems terribly fitting.

You'd have to think that overseas entries in 2022 will just add to it all. Not only did everyone involved love it, but I gather planning for next year is well and truly under way, utilising the same format, and adding in more shore-based fun to the mix.

Well done to the host club, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, and all the owners and crew. Little wonder many were heard to say that the combination of short-course ocean work, the Cabbage Tree Island passage race, and the finale with the SOLAS event on the Harbour made it 'the best ever!'

Must be time for Il Duce...

Our friend, Andrea Francolini, has been out and about now that events have been taking place (including the inaugural Maxi Championship), and so I asked him for his picks of his pics, along with a few insights as to how he saw it. Il Duce said, "The start of the Cabbage Tree Island Race was brutal! Rain, no light, and waves. This was far from ideal shooting conditions, let alone sailing ones! Yet it was something different, so I welcomed the challenge."

"The Maxi Championship was a nice display of power, and one I hope we will see again next year.

"For me, the icing on the cake was the Classic Sydney Hobart yacht race. 30 knots of wind, and at least a 3 metre swell between the Heads. When we saw the conditions I told my boat driver: 'We are staying between the Heads and let everyone come to us. This is where the action will be.' The moment I said that, the Manly ferry took a nosedive in a wave. We both saw it, did not say a word for two seconds, and then laughed."

In concluding, Francolini said, "I do not remember a day like this on the Harbour and many people don't either. It was simply incredible. Sun, wind, waves and more wind. Perfect day in the office if you ask me!"

We've already mentioned that Stefan left BrisVegas on Saturday, as did Maritimo 11 on Friday from the Gold Coast, after her farewell by the Mayor, Tom Tate. All that remains is say well done to TeamAUS in SailGP, Season's Greetings to all, and now bring on the Hobart, eh!

Please avail yourself of the plethora of information on the group's websites when you can.

Equally, if your class or association is generating material, please submit your material. Want to subscribe? Just follow the instructions on our newsletter page. You can also register for other editions from the pull down menu.

Finally, many thanks for making Sail-World your go-to choice. We're always here to keep pumping out the news. Stay safe, and enjoy your time on the water,

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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