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 50th Flying Fifteen Australian Championship hosted by South of Perth YC  6 – 13 January 2012
Race Reports & Results

Photos & Reports from Bernie Kaaks

The 50th Flying Fifteen National Championship commenced today, Sunday 8th January 2012.
The Invitation Race for the Uffa Fox Trophy was won by Alan Bax & Simon Childs in 3987, second was Steve Goacher being crewed by the current Australian champion - Matt Owen, in 3988. Third was the events principle sponsor John Wilson with Nick Hancock.

The Brits dominate the first day of racing for the Coweslip Trophy on the Swan River.
In south westerly conditions just a little lighter than Sunday, the first two races of the 50th Anniversary Flying Fifteen Nationals were completed and the big names all performed up to expectations, with some surprises thrown into the mix.

Greg Leaversuch and Peter Barblett set the early pace, setting up a big lead at the end of the first beat after an excellent start. Like the majority of the fleet, they favoured the south side of the course and with the breeze still swinging slightly to the left, it was the right choice for them. On thesecond work however, they chose the north side, only to meet Goacher, Hart and Hawkins who played the south, at the top mark. Although they maintained their lead at that point, the final work saw Leaversuch swamped by Steve Goacher/Matt Owen, then Adam Hawkins and Ben Jones (whoalso finished second in yesterday’s invitation race but were premature starters) and Englishmen Mike Hart and Richard Rigg. Alan Bax and Simon Childs were fifth, just ahead of State S80 champion David Yu and former world champion Graeme Lillingston.

In the second race of the day, the leaders after the first beat were Chris Paterson and Rupert Leslie, backing up their sixth place in the invitation race, but they were hotly pursued by Adele Jackson and Dean McAullay, who are starting to realise their potential, and the Andrew Grist/Ian

Johnston combination. Steve Goacher was menacing in fourth place, ahead of John Wilson and Nick Hancock. During the second lap, Pater-son/Leslie slipped back several places to round fourth, surrendering the lead to Jackson/McAullay, who by this stage had opened up a gap of around 100 meters on Steve Goacher, who had moved up to second. Mike Hart was next and the crowd behind him were all baying for buoy room as they converged on the top mark. But there was no way that Adele Jackson was going to allow Goacher to run her down as he was able to do in the previous race, and she and Dean McAullay finished the race with a lead of 1 minute and15 seconds.

After two races, it’s all Great Britain!  Goacher/Owen lead the tally board with 4 points, ahead of Bax/Childs with 7 and Hart/Rigg with 8. The best of the locals are now the Jackson/McAullay combination with 10 points, Leaversuch/Barblett with 12 and Yu/Nelson with 13.

Tuesday's race is scheduled for the morning, which should see it run in an easterly breeze on flat water – a pleasant change from the blustery south westerly that has characterised racing to date.

Lillo back in winning form
Graeme Lillingstone winner of the World Championships in 1982, relished the light conditions in today’s third heat of the Gemmill Homes Golden Anniversary Flying Fifteen National Championship. A general recall at the first attempt saw a black flag controlled second start, which Lillingstone and crew Ed Repsevicius, Lillingstone read beautifully to get away in clean air. As expected, the race began with a light easterly breeze at around 120 degrees. At the top mark for the first time, Lillingston held a handy lead over David Tucker and Matt Summers, with the ever-menacing Steve Goacher well positioned in third place as he edged out Queensland’s Ashley Smith. A big wind shift to the left during the second beat (at one stage it went to 095 degrees) was anticipated by the observant crews, who tacked to the left early to take full advantage of it. Lillingston was at this stage heading to the right until he saw the moves behind him, and quickly reacted to cover the trailing pack, tacking back onto port as he hit the layline, which by this time was not far from the centreline of the course!

It was a beautiful move, creating a good 200 metre buffer over Adele Jackson and Dean McAullay, who headed out to the north immediately after threading their way through the leeward gate, pushing Tucker back to third, with Ashley Smith and Steve Goacher still fighting over fourth place, just ahead of Adam Hawkins.

Race officer Les Swinton re-aligned the course as the fleet headed downwind to wipe out the 40 degree swing, but the running order remained unchanged, with Lillingstone claiming his first win of the championship and Adele Jackson following up yesterday’s win with a solid second place today, so finally the British stranglehold on the top placings was broken, with all three podium finishes going to Australian crews, as David Tucker held on to claim third today.

All that action has tightened up the leader board considerably. With Alan Bax finishing fourth and Steve Goacher relegated to sixth in today’s race, Goacher still leads with 10 points, one ahead of Bax on 11 and Jackson on 12. Lillingstone’s win elevates him to fourth place overall. Tomorrow promises more light breezes and two races are scheduled.

Today’s weather forecasts proved to be right on the money – much to everyone’s dismay. Race Officer Les Swinton was left lamenting when time after time he attempted to set a course, only to face a major wind shift during the start sequence.

A reasonably steady easterly greeted the fleet on its arrival at the race area on the Swan River, but it was fading rapidly as the clock counted down to start time. The first attempted start resulted in a general recall and during the re-start sequence the breeze dropped right away, forcing a post-ponement. A course was set to the south east, then another back to the east, until finally at 4:30pm, race 4 started under a black flag, this time in a south westerly sea breeze.

Predictably all the big names headed to the left off the start line, but the ones who tacked back towards the centre early made the best gains. Alan Bax was one of those to make that choice, along with Mike Hart and Steve Goacher and the British trio rounded the top mark with a small but handy lead. The race committee selected course 2, requiring one windward and return lap followed by a triangle and a beat to the finish. By the end of the first lap, it was clear that the race would be dominated by Goacher, Hart and Bax, but behind them places were constantly swapping as Adam Hawkins and Ben Jones (3881), Adele Jackson/Dean McAullay (3933), David Tucker/Matt Summers (3781) and John Wilson/Nick Hancock all fought for the honour of being the first “non British” boat to finish.
At the last gasp, Jackson/McAullay delayed their approach to the finish line until they were almost on the starboard layline. It proved a master stroke and allowed them to call Adam Hawkins /Ben Jones, who made a port tack approach, to snatch fourth place. It was another solid performance by Hawkins though, and moves him to fourth place in the overall standings after four races.

The race committee wisely decided to call it a day after completing the race, though a second race had been scheduled. With more light weather forecast for tomorrow, competitors and officials face another tough day of competition.

Steve Goacher has a 3 point lead over Alan Bax with one race to go.
Perth’s famous south westerly sea breeze, affectionately known as the “Fremantle Doctor”, failed to materialise again today due to the influence of a cyclone in the north west of the State. Instead, this afternoon’s breeze came from the east and south east, varying in strength from 3 or 4 knots, to bullets of wind gusting well over 15 knots.  The Race Officer under pressure after losing a race yesterday because of fickle winds was determined to run three races today to get the regatta back on schedule and selected course 2 for all three races, requiring a windward and return leg, followed by a triangle and a beat to the finish.

The quality of the field in this championship is best demonstrated by the fact that after seven races, only Steve Goacher has won more than one race. Consistency and risk management however, have been the key for the top scoring boats. They have generally avoided risky starts, have avoided straying too wide on the windward legs and have stayed out of trouble.  They’ve also been able to generate excellent boat speed on and off the wind, but have maintained their composure when back in the bunch in the early stages of a race, to emerge among the leaders at the business end.  Steve Goacher in particular, has showed an extraordinary capacity to wear down boats in front of him. Today was the exception with Adele Jackson/Dean McAullay black flagged in the first race of the day (Race 5 in the series).

David Tucker and Matt Summers had a good win in today’s first race, taking a risk on the first leg by going out wide, but it paid off handsomely and they gleefully claimed their first win of the series.

In the second race of the afternoon, run in similar conditions, Alan Bax threaded his way through the traffic and worked hard near the centre of the course to get to the top mark with a small but significant lead, which he extended as the race progressed.  He had a spectacular first reach, riding one of the gusts that crossed the course to really take the race apart.

Jenny Richardson, sailing one of the older boats in the fleet, went to the extreme edge of the course in the first leg, picking up a nice little lift in the process.  She tacked on a wind shift and laid the top mark without having to tack again, to find herself in the lead for the first time.  It all unraveled in the downwind leg though, as the pack engulfed her little blue boat and put an end to its moment of glory.

The race was won by Queenslanders Ashley Smith and Adam Kingston, so after seven races, only Steve Goacher, has been able to notch more than one win.

Tomorrow’s final race of the championship is scheduled to be run in the morning, with more easterly breezes forecast. 

Steve Goacher crewed by Matt Owen with the 50th Anniversary Championship.

Goacher finished 8th in the final race while Alan Bax & Simon Childs finished 10th, which maintained the status quo for first & second for the Coweslip Trophy.  Great Britain’s triple world champion Steve Goacher teamed up with the winning skipper from last year’s Flying Fifteen nationals, Matt Owen, to secure the Golden Anniversary National championship for the class.  The union resulted in Owen winning an Australian title in successive years, one as helmsman and one as crew!

The championship was conducted on Perth’s picturesque Swan River and hosted by the South of Perth Yacht Club. Conditions varied through the week, with fresh south westerlies early, which gave way to some very light easterly breezes later in the week as weather conditions were influenced by a cyclone hovering off the north west of the State, and finished in a reasonably steady 12 to 15 knot easterly on the final day. The result was a huge triumph for the three visiting British crews, who took out the first three placings in the regatta.  The trio showed remarkable consistency, so much so that the worst placing for any of them was a fifteenth in the 58 boat fleet.  Individual brilliance by several of the Australians from time to time was offset by the odd disaster in their scoreline and even with the benefit of two drops, they could not match the visitors.

Today’s race was a triumph for Adele Jackson and Dean McAullay.  They suffered a horrible day yesterday, starting out with a black flag disqualification in the first race and tenth place in the other two races – their worst scores for the week. Starting sensibly near the centre of the line today, they were clearly focused on controlling the centre of the course.  They played the shifty easterly well, ignoring the massive proportion of the fleet which headed off to the north side of the course on the first beat, and led at the top mark, with Adam Hawkins, Mike Hart, Graeme Lillingstone and David Yu in hot pursuit.

Positions remained static on the square run, but on the second beat, Jackson/McAullay were very disciplined in sticking to their game plan to open up the gap to the chasing pack, but on the first reach the pack brought some fresher breeze down with them and once again that gap was back to about 30 seconds between first and second.  Goacher and Bax were doing what they had to do, well back from the leaders, and Hart had an uncharacteristic “lose” at the gybe mark, opening the door for David Yu and Chris Nelson. Positions remained relatively stable during the final windward and return leg, so in a massive turnaround, Jackson/McAullay took the win ahead of Hawkins/Jones and Yu/Nelson, with Mike Hart finishing fourth.

Steve Goacher and Matt Owen therefore win the Australian Flying Fifteen Championship trophy, with Adele Jackson and Dean McAullay being the best all-Australian crew.

Geraldton’s Adam Semple and Lisa Greeve won the silver fleet trophy with a four point buffer over Hank Heimans and Alan Sharpe, while Ray Ellard and Ken Treharne won the Classic championship without having to sail today.

Overall the results are: 1. Goacher & Owen; 2. Bax & Childs; 3. Hart & Rigg; 4. Jackson & McAullay; 5. Tucker & Summers; 6.Hawkins & Jones. The Silver division was won by Adam Semple & Lisa Greeve and the Classic Division by Ray Ellard & Ken Treharne.

Full Results

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