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Western Australian Flying Fifteen State Championships at South of Perth Yacht Club

by Sandy Dunn 20 Apr 12:02 PDT 15-17 April 2022

South of Perth Yacht Club had the pleasure of hosting the 61st Western Australian Flying 15 State Championship over the Easter long weekend and what a great regatta it was.

A hearty congratulations to all the winners, competitors, volunteers and sponsors.

Day 1

With registration, measuring and pre-regatta briefing completed, all that needed to happen was for the breeze to fill in. As the scheduled time for the first warning signal approached, the Swan River was a glass-out and the AP went up on shore with Race Officer (RO) Les Swinton advising that he was going to head out on course and the AP would come down once he was satisfied that there was sufficient steady breeze for us to start. After a shortish delay, the breeze dutifully appeared and 30 Flying Fifteens from across Western Australia headed out on course.

A lightish breeze from the Southwest looked after the lightweight sailors and as a result seasoned competitors David Yu and Chris Nelson from Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club (RFBYC) took the win in the first race. However former world champion and defending State Champion, Nick Jerwood with Brad Sheridan controlling things at the pointy end of the boat, weren't too far behind in second place. Hamish Carnachan and Peter 'Muddi' Mudford took out third place. Behind them, some of the more favoured competitors had results that they would hope would be their drop for the regatta, including Greg Tonnison and Nick Robinson in 'The Answer' with an OCS, Mike and Paul Dunbar in 18th, Dave Swan and Justin Warren with a 16th and Philippa Packer and Dean McAullay in 15th.

The wind filled in a little more for the second race, and the Dunbar twins led comfortably round the final mark with just the beat to the finish remaining. Nick and Brad had almost resigned themselves to finishing second again, but saw an opportunity and almost pinched the win in a photo finish. David Yu and Chris Nelson took third to take the overall lead for the Championship after two races at the end of the first day.

The customary Good Friday seafood barbeque followed, with sailors, volunteers and partners all enjoying a great feed of king prawns, grilled snapper and salads. RO Les Swinton was drawn to comment that the spread was even better than that put on by the Vipers - fine praise indeed!

Day 2

The Bureau of Meteorology forecast was for a south-westerly sea breeze averaging around 15 knots for the afternoon of Day 2, but this forecast was comfortably exceeded, with average winds consistently over 20 knots and gusts of up to 25 knots. With three races to be held in this session, it was to be a session of attrition. Rotating as it built, by the time the day was over the breeze was dead south. And so the course changed with the occasional AP in order to get the course realigned.

Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan mastered the conditions best in Race 3 of the series, finishing first ahead of Greg Tonnison and Nick Robinson who put their OCS of the previous day behind them to finish a very close second in another photo finish. David Yu and Chris Nelson belied their reputation as light wind specialists to finish third. Nine boats failed to finish Race 3, many with damage, including Grant Alderson who lost a hobble bolt, Mark Millman whose jib plinth gave way, and Andy and Anne Knowles who lost some important fittings in a port-starboard incident. They were unable to sail for the rest of the day, but were awarded redress by the Protest Committee.

Race 4 was more of the same, with some screaming reaches under spinnaker combined with some hairy gybes, the odd broach and some barely hanging on while sailing upwind. 22 boats crossed the start line, and once again, Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan prevailed over Greg Tonnison and Nick Robinson, but more comfortably this time. John Wilson and Matt Summers finished third. Kim Peaker and Neil White had a DNF due to a broken main halyard, which was extremely disappointing for them, as they had been consistently in the top 10 up to that point in the regatta.

By the time we got to Race 5, we were down to 18 starters. This time Greg Tonnison and Nick Robinson blitzed the field to finish almost a minute and a half ahead of Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan in second. The ever-consistent David Yu and Chris Nelson rounded out the top 3.

So at the end of Day 2, with a drop coming into play, Nick and Brad were on top of the score sheets, with David Yu and Chris Nelson and Greg Tonnison and Nick Robinson in second and third respectively. Behind them, Hamish Carnachan and Peter Mudford were sailing a very consistent regatta to be in fourth, with John Wilson and Matt Summers in fifth, and a consistently improving Philippa Packer and Dean McAullay just behind in 6th.

Day 3

Thankfully for those with sore muscles from the previous day, the South-Easterly winds were much lighter for the final two heats, but there were some big wind shifts and significant variations in wind pressure across the course. Those that were able to read the winds best and could get their boats to change gears quickly would do best in these conditions.

Race 6 started in very light and shifty winds and up the first work it was possible to go from hero to zero and back again in no time flat. At the end of the first lap the wind filled in from the South, and those that had gone right up the second beat gained significantly over those that went left or centre of the course. Philippa Packer and Dean McAullay snuck in front of Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan by sailing a longer distance upwind, but in pressure. John Wilson and Matt Summers finished third. With Greg Tonnison and Nick Robinson finishing in fifth and David Yu and Chris Nelson in 12th, this meant that Nick and Brad went into the final race of the regatta with an unassailable lead.

The breeze simply would not settle down between Races 6 and 7, and after several AP's, a few General Recalls and a fair bit of waiting to get the course reset, Race 7 finally got under way about an hour after having Race 6 had finished with the wind more or less settled in the South. Once again gusts and shifts were the order of the day, with one particularly savage gust right on the finish line putting boats on their ear and Andrew Colquhoun into the water. John Wilson and Matt Summers had a great battle with David Yu and Chris Nelson, finishing just 2 seconds ahead of them in first place. Greg Tonnison and Nick Robinson crossed in third.

Wrap up

So the final placings for the Championship were:

    1st - Reliance 4k - Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan
    2nd - The Answer - Greg Tonnison and Nick Robinson
    3rd - Tuffan Up - David Yu and Chris Nelson

In accepting the trophy, Nick particularly thanked Ray Sebo for lending him his boat when he encountered issues with his new boat - and pointed out that Reliance 4K was now for sale! Contact Ray for details.

Philippa Packer and Dean McAullay improved all regatta to comfortably take out first place in the consistency results, with John Wilson and Matt Summers doing likewise to finish in second place. Humphrey Hale and Menno Weustink were popular recipients of third place in the consistency series. Although always well back in the fleet, they sailed every race, including the extremely challenging races on Day 2.

Philippa Packer won the trophy for first female skipper, and Anne Knowles won the trophy for first female crew.

The President's Award was given to Mary-Anne Reid for her incredible energy in not only competing in the event, but organising all the social events and associated catering, including the awesome seafood barbeque, competitor lunches and a sausage sizzle at the end of Day 2.

Many thanks to our sponsors for the event: Endeavour Homes, Greenskin Wine, Sims Design, Boating Hardware, Sundew Small Batch, The Amanda Young Foundation

And many thanks also to the more than 30 volunteers who helped to make the event a success.

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