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Flying 15 Australian Championship & Worlds Invitational Race at Fremantle

by Jonny Fullerton 12 Mar 18:52 PDT 12 March 2023

Twelve days of Flying Fifteen racing opened with an invitational race held in superb late summer afternoon sunshine and a light to moderate SW sea breeze.

Competitors have arrived from all over the world to compete at the 2023 Australian National Championship followed by the Flying Fifteen World Championship sailed off the coast of Fremantle in West Australia.

There are now 79 boats from 4 continents entered with overseas entries travelling from as far away as South Africa, the UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, New Zealand and all over Australia.

Having completed measurement and registration the fleet have been busy over the last few days re-rigging and tuning their boats ready for the start of racing on Monday 13 March.

The schedule of racing began with an Invitational race on Sunday 12 March, to be followed by four days of racing for the Australian Championship. Another lay day is followed by seven days of World Championship racing with a provisional lay day in the middle.

A large number of the competitors left Fremantle Harbour to sail to the race course Owen Anchorage, just south of the Harbour entrance to take part in the warm up race.

The invitational race was held in superb light to moderate breezes on a warm late summer day. The start was delayed for about 30 minutes to wait for a light sea breeze to fill.

In a quite orderly style under U flag the race started in about 13 - 14 knots of south westerly breeze. Course 2 was signalled on the start boat which was a windward/leeward leg of 1.3nm per leg, followed by a triangle and another windward/leeward leg.

The first upwind leg was a bit left favoured with local Perth sailors Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan (South of Perth YC/Fremantle SC) rounding with a clear lead from club mates Greg Tonnison and Nick Robinson and kiwis Wayne Avery and Ross Bannan from Manly SC in third. There were a few breakaway leaders with a huge bunch making up the early to mid fleet positions.

Positions stayed the same but by the end of the triangle reaches, the current world champions Graham Vials and Chris Turner (GBR) (Lyme Regis/Derwent Reservoir) were closing the gap on every leg. Going up the last working leg to the top mark the wind shifted again splitting the fleet. By the last downwind the breeze was up to around 15 knots and the waves picked up for great ride to the finish line.

Nick Jerwood / Brad Sheridan finished comfortably ahead but Graham Vials / Chris Turner closed the gap finishing second leaving Greg Tonnison / Nick Robinson to take third spot on the podium.

Another South of Perth YC boat, sailed by brothers, Mike and Paul Dunbar came in fourth and a GBR/NZL combination, Jonny Cooper and Luke Deegan representing Cowes Corinthian YC took fifth.

The regatta really gets under way with the first two races of the Australian Championship / Pre-Worlds scheduled for a 1300hrs start time on Monday 13 March.

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