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Innamincka crowned Australian J/24 Champions

by J/Boats 3 Feb 23:13 PST
2024 Australian J/24 Nationals © Marg Fraser-Martin

Once again, the Australian J/24 Nationals were held in Sydney, this time on the harbor. As opposed to huge swells off Cronulla last year this year we are battling the traffic and their wakes, Sydney is a very congested place, especially on the weekend!

Held earlier this month in mostly jib weather, the smaller fleet size this year still contained the top sailors in Sydney, and only one entry from Victoria. The usual suspects from NSW mixed it up with new youth and female crews and it's great to see them participating in the class. The Nationals were the qualifying regatta for the 2024 Worlds in Seattle USA and there is considerable interest in attending this regatta.

With three races a day for four days, it was a pretty solid and physical regatta with especially the female crews getting well bruised.

Day 1- Blowing dogs off chains

The first day gave the fleet a strong southeasterly of 25 - 28 knots. Starting off Taylor Bay and heading to the top mark off the northern end of Shark Island meant we were sailing across several ferry routes - it just adds to the excitement - and frustration. Tough sailing, but banging Bradley's Head out to the right-hand side seemed to work quite well most of the time. Mixed results with TINTO (Steve Wright), INNAMINCKA (John Crawford), and ACE (Dave West) taking out the wins.

Day 2- Another blustery day

The second day saw more blustery, puffy winds of 20-25 kts SE; it was pretty much a re-run of day one. However, we did experience an unusual delay, we had to pause racing while the giant 1,200-foot VIRGIN cruise liner (read-- apartment block) left the harbor, completely blocking our race track. The day's winners were SAILPAC (Sean Kirkjian), Innamincka, and Convicts Revenge (Simon Grain).

Day 3- Shifty East / Northeasterly

The third day finally saw the fleet sailing with Genoas. The winds started around 15 kts shifty easterly and then back into even shiftier northeast breezes. It was a very tricky day with lots more traffic on the harbor- Saturdays are notorious for hundreds of boats going every which way and throwing up huge boat wakes. Starting off the west side of Bradleys Head this time, the course was set across to the southern end of Shark Island. It was difficult to say which side paid better, as they both did at various times. The frustration was palpable in the first race, as the wind came and went. Winners were SAILPAC and INNAMINCKS twice.

Day 4- Almost blowing dogs off chains

The last day saw us back on the 100% jibs with 20-25+ kts from the northeast. The course was set with the starting line down by Clark Island and racing up to the northern end of Shark Island. Banging Bradley Head first pretty much gave you the win with a lifting breeze from there to the top mark. The Squadron laid their start line about 100m to windward of ours and that was a bit worrying but the two talked and we were away without interference from them. Winners were TINTO, CONVICTS REVENGE, and SAILPAC. It was a day where quite a few of us had moments!

In the end, it was a convincing win for John Crawford's INNAMINCKA team, the second was Sean Kirkjian's SAILPAC, and the third was Simon Grain's CONVICTS REVENGE.

The women's and youth boats competed in their tough racing in the pack with consistency being the key to the placings. Our women's and youth crews sailed hard in the conditions. Isabel Schlegel's CHECKMATE and Tegan Franklin OKVANGO DELTA and their crews battled with the two youth crews skippered by Will Hough's WATERBORNE AGAIN and James Bednaic's CALYPSO.

Last but not least was Cameron Cooke, perhaps the keenest skipper in the regatta, after buying his boat for AUD 200.00!!! Cam entered knowing what an uphill battle this was going to be. With help from numerous skippers and crews, he was on a vertical learning curve but loved it. Keep at it Cam- it's a journey for all of us!

RANSA put on a great regatta for us, the club is informal and friendly. I got so much help from Roger Wragby of RANSA before and during the regatta that made our trip up from Melbourne so much easier. Nothing like a coldie sitting right on the water in such a scenic setting after a hard day. Accolades should go to the RANSA volunteer team running the racing for us and to John Allan for being the RO. A tough gig in Sydney Harbour.

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