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Firecracker storms home to take inaugural Fareast 28R Australian Championship

by Di Pearson/Fareast 28R media 3 Mar 21:00 PST 2-3 March 2024
Firecracker won the first class Nationals - Fareast 28R one-design Australian Championship © Andrea Francolini

Three of the boats contesting the inaugural Fareast 28R one-design Australian Championship won two races each and it literally came down to the last race as to whose name would be first on the new trophy - and it was Scott Lawson and crew on Firecracker who prevailed on Sydney Harbour after taking bullets the opening and final races.

Between wins, Firecracker claimed a trio of second places and a fourth in the six windward/leeward races sailed over the weekend. Hot on her heels throughout were Peter Higgins' Sparrow and Conrad Johnston's Wildling 3. The latter looked to have second place stitched up early, revelling in Saturday's fresh conditions.

However, Sparrow had the goods in Sunday's light nor' easter that built during the day to around 15 knots, when she too scored two bullets.

It was no walk in the park, the trio trading blows throughout the event, held in conjunction with Middle Harbour Yacht Club's Nautilus Marine Insurance Sydney Harbour Regatta. Eight boats fought for the title, but the top three were just a cut above. Firecracker finished on 12 points, her adversaries on 16 points each, Wildling 3 relegated to third on countback.

Others enjoyed their moment in the sun with second and third places, but the top three were relentless.

Lawson said, "We had a lovely final race. After a horror start, we tacked onto port, ducking all others. We tacked into a massive right hand shift and took about a minute and a half off the fleet in 5 to 10 minutes.

"Sundays first and second races were very light. We could've been taken by anyone, so we went conservative and stayed with the boats that were around us on the points table.

"It's fabulous to win the first Australians. I sail lots of different boats; Farr 40s, offshore boats, TP52s, but these Fareast boats are the most fun, so, I've retired from ocean racing."

An enthusiasts of the class that is making waves in Australia, Lawson commented, "I think the boats are ideal for youth racing, particularly for their speed and sensitivity to trim adjustments. "I'm excited to see so many boats take part in a rapidly building class."

The sailor added, "I think the Sydney Harbour Regatta is just great! Thanks to Middle Harbour and the race committees and the sponsor. Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron ran our course and did it well."

All the racing was close, all agreed. Five and six boats within boat lengths of each other throughout: "Some got on the gravy train, others were going off in different directions, trying new things," Lawson ended.

Peter Higgins was happy with second place: "This is the first time I've been on a course with a Fareast. It's very exciting and exhilarating to be in a pack," he said.

"The first day we were so impressed with the other top two (Firecracker and Wildling 3). Saturday was a learning period for us. We learnt from our experience that day and I'm very proud to say we came out and won two races on Sunday."

For a novice in the class to do so well, Higgins explained, "We had the benefit of youth and experience. We had three 20 year-olds, including my son Sebastian. Ludde Ingvall (he has Sydney Hobart line honours victories with Nicorette (80) in 2000 and (90) in 2004 and other overseas wins) is on my crew.

"Ludde's been sailing with me since August and I've been learning a lot from him. He's coaching my son Sebastian as well. We're fortunate to have him on Team Sparrow."

On the calibre of the fleet, Higgins said, "There are some accomplished sailors there, so Saturday was a wake-up call. Racing one-design was so much to take in. I was so impressed by the other crews."

Higgins loves the class: "The Fareast 28R is fun and fast boat to sail. We sailed ours down from Pittwater on Thursday and got it up to 18.4 knots, surfing all the way!"

Competitors encountered two very different days of racing. Saturday was grey, rainy with gusty south/south-easterlies up to 28 knots. Sunday was the opposite; a sunny 27-31 degrees, backed by a lovely north-easterly sea breeze.

Overall Results:

1. Firecracker (Scott Lawson) 12pts
2. Sparrow (Peter Higgins) 16
3. Wildling 3 (Conrad Johnston) 16
4. MING the Merciless (Jono Rogers) 25
5. Valkyrie (Drew Garnett) 31
6. Cool Runnings (Kevin Bloor) 33
7. Sweeney-Todd (Julian Todd) 36
8. Kofi Too (Joe Atkinson) 47

Full individual results here.

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