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Australian Flying Dutchman Championship 2023

by Jeanette Severs 7 Feb 04:27 PST
Mark Henger (Metung Yacht Club) and Matt Bismark (New Zealand) race their International Flying Dutchman first across the finish line, successfully defending their national title. Behind them are Black Jack and Chill It © Tom Smeaton

In early February, Metung Yacht Club sailor, Mark Henger, and his New Zealand crewman, Matt Bismark, successfully defended their national title in the Australian International Flying Dutchman 2023 championship race series at Geelong.

Henger and Bismark won the 2022 Championship sailing in Twofold Bay, Eden (NSW) against many of the same competitors one year ago.

The 2023 Championship regatta saw nine Flying Dutchman yachts contesting the national title in Corio Bay, Geelong (Victoria).

Three fleets were scheduled to race the same Corio Bay course over three days - Flying Dutchman yachts, Fireball dinghies and Musto Skiffs. However, high winds prevented the scheduled races from being contested on day one.

This put pressure on the race organisers to try and complete three races on day two. The Dutchman and Fireball boats sailed their courses in a strong and gusty southwest wind, averaging 20-22 knots, with gusts around 30 knots. The strong wind meant the Dutchman yachts could ride high in the waves.

But it also put a lot of strain on the infrastructure of yachts and the strength of crews to perform. Hunger and Bismark finished day two with a first and two second places. Third place-getters in 2022, Matthew Moore and Raul Ximenez, racing in Chill It, finished day one with a first and two third placings.

Four yachts did not complete race one - Lupercus 60, Will and Ben, Circus Oz and Blew.

In race two, crews were still struggling with the race conditions, and five Flying Dutchman yachts failed to complete the course - Lupercus 60, Wooshka, Will and Ben, Politesse, Circus Oz and Blew.

Ian McCrossin and James Cook, in Lupercus 60, were first across the line in race two, but were forced to retire in race three.

Day three dawned with lighter winds and variable conditions and the race organisers were keen to set three more races to complete the regatta series for the Flying Dutchman competitors.

They were sharing the Corio Bay racing course with the Fireball fleet and the Skiff fleet - the Musto Skiffs hadn't been on the water until day three.

Henger and Bismark were first to sail across the finish line in race four, followed by Moore and Ximenez, with Peter Bartels and Darren Hocking in Black Jack finishing in third place.

Race five saw Henger and Bismark again cross the finish line first, but with McCrossin and Cook following them in second place; then Wooshka skippered by Edward Cox was third across the line.

It meant that going into race six, the championship title wasn't clear. With race six, each team could drop their worst performance from their cumulative scores and that meant Henger and Bismark or Moore and Ximenez could win the regatta, depending on their final placings.

However, the race officer abandoned race six after the start, given the variable course conditions.

The 2023 championship was awarded to Henger and Bismark, in PPK, with a final score of five points. Moore and Ximenez, in Chill It, finished in second place with a final score of nine points. In third place was Bartels and Hocking, in Black Jack, with a score of 13 points. Competitors over the three classes were from Victoria, New South Wales and New Zealand. The Royal Geelong Yacht Club hosted the three fleet regattas.

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