2024 Australian Championship sailed at Lake Macquarie Y C , NSW
8 – 12 January 2024
Invitation Race for the Uffa Fox Trophy
The Australian Flying Fifteen Championships kicked off on 8 January at the Lake Macquarie Yacht Club. After a short delay, the invitation race for the Uffa Fox Trophy got started on the first attempt in a very light north-easterly that, uncharacteristically, favoured the right hand side and saw UK sailors Graham Latham and Sara Briscoe lead at the first mark followed by Ken and Lee Bubb from Queensland.
The breeze filled in by a couple of knots for the second lap and Ashley Smith and Kym Thumpkin from Queensland established a race winning lead and left locals Chris Villa and Mark Holmes to pip the Bubbs into second place. Fourth was Neil Lestor and Graeme Dobson (also from Queensland) and Victorian brothers Craig and Ian Rainey in fifth.
The racing starts in earnest on 9 January with 2 heats scheduled starting at 1330 hrs.
After leaving the LMYC dock with close to 18 knots, the breeze promptly died to around 10 knots for the start of heat 1.
Ashley and Kym lead around every mark to win by 20 seconds from the brothers Rainey and a further 20 seconds to Karen and Russell Dawes from Western Australia in third. Visitors from the UK, Graham Latham and Sara Briscoe were fourth and Victorians Lewis Davies and John Radnell fifth.
Slightly lighter and a shift to the left for heat 2 saw John Hassen and Kevin Griffiths lead for the first lap followed by Chris Villa and Mark Holmes and the Craig & Ian Rainey.
A further shift left compressed the fleet but the front three boats prevailed with Team Rainey taking the lead at the last mark and hold on for the win with John and Kevin second and Chris and Mark third. Northern Territorian Gary Richardson and Dean Perro were fourth and Karen and Russell fifth.
The Silver fleet has Graham and Sara (UK) leading with Arriene and Duncan Ritchie. (QLD) second. Back on the water for a 2.30pm start on Wednesday.
Sparkling conditions greeted sailors with a 12 (ish) knot sea breeze for heats 3 and 4. The left hand side of the course was generally favoured and getting clear air on that side was key.
Craig and Ian Rainey (3880) recorded a first and a second to sit solidly clear on the results sheet. Lewis and John (3988) had conditions more to their liking with a fourth and a win to sit second overall and Ashley and Kym (3972) were 9th and 5th to slip into third.
David Tabb from the UK and David Bennett from South Australia (3941) overcame early breakages and illness to score two thirds for the day.
John and Kevin moved into fourth overall with a second and a seventh.
Graham Latham and Sara Briscoe (2876) are building a good score in their effort to retain the Silver title and still compete towards the front of the open fleet.
Five races to go so, like a plate of free venison, it’s anybody’s game……
Another 12-15 knot sea breeze and a red letter day for John Hassen and Kevin Griffiths (4075) winning all 3 races, the last two by handsome margins. This moves them within a couple of points of Craig and Ian Rainey who had results of 2nd, 4th and 5th so some interesting mathematics when 2 discards comes into play with Friday’s final 2 races.
Some fast improvers in those chasing with Trevor Williams and daughter Anna (3611) recoding 5th, 6th and 2nd and David Tabb and David Bennett (3941) with 4th, 8th and 3rd.
Ashley Smith and Kym Thumpkin had a disappointing day being OCS in the second race and breaking a mainsheet block in the third but not without a chance in the final races. Racing on Friday starts at 12.30 with a lighter sea breeze expected.
[EasyDNNGallery|1652|Width|170|Height|300|position|left|resizecrop|False|lightbox|False|title|False|description|True|redirection|False|LinkText||]The final two heats boiled down to Craig and Ian Rainey against John Hassen and Kevin Griffiths for first and second overall and any one of five boats fighting over third and below.
The north-easterly started at 12 knots and steadily freshened throughout the afternoon until pushing 20 knots at the end of racing.
The David’s (Tabb and Bennett) in 3941, scored a second and a first to take third place after the second discard took effect. Trevor and Anna scored a first and a second to take fouth place.
With consistent sailing, John Hassen and Kevin Griffiths beat the Raineys in both races to take the championship and relegate Craig and Ian to second overall.
John and Kevin are long term supporters of the class and, as is so often the case, much training and travel has contributed to a fine victory amongst a very competitive fleet.
In the Silver division, Graham Latham and Sara Briscoe ( both of the UK) won the title for the second successive year with Arriene and Duncan taking second place.
Lake Macquarie Yacht Club ran a first class regatta with excellent race management and social functions in superb surroundings for all competitors and supporters.
by Flying Fifteen Australia