Following on from the trip to Yarrawonga, Team WA headed for the City of Churches to contest the A Class National Championships. We remember sailing at West Lakes from the 2016 Nationals and were looking forward to sailing in clear waters with good wind.
West Lakes didn’t disappoint......
It is a terrific venue in a south to south westerly wind. The viewing is slightly elevated and launching is easy across a small, sandy beach. It’s much easier launching the A Class this way than from a dock.
The West Lakes crew had put a lot of effort into making sure we all had a good time. Frank and Elizabeth Brooks opened their home for a Welcome function and turned on a lovely roast meal. We enjoyed good food and good company, and it set the tone for the event.
Our Race Team was led by Ian Dowsett, assisted by Tony White with Ben Morris scoring, Jeff and Chris in the boat, Anne Cole Cook and Deb helping. There were a good number of West Lakes club members who came along to help out, and we thank them for their contributions.
The fleet numbers were well up on previous years having 18 A Class entered to race. West Lakes Bob Whitehead had built a number of A Class in the last year, and 4 of them were entered, being sailed by club members. That was a massive effort to build and prepare all those boats.
Other designs being sailed were the Swords, being campaigned by Warren Norrie, Brian Dill, Denton Roberts and Glenn Dawson. Alan Gold had built himself a Sweet 9 which was very quick. Lisa Blackwood had a “sistership” to her boat from last year. Last year’s boat was called a Blister, and this one was called “Sister Blister”. Then there were the Venoms sailed by Simon Ellis from WA, Tim Arland from SA and John Cole Cook from Tas. A new boat was launched the day before the event, with Kyle Stewart getting his new GothicA wet for the first time.
To get proceedings underway, winds were from the south at a lovely 6 to 10 knots. The course was set and racing got underway. The decision was made to split the fleet into two. Seeding races were run, taken out by Lisa Blackwood and Alan Gold.
Soon after the seeding heats, the wind veered into the south-east, which isn’t a terrific direction at West Lakes. It was coming off the shore and shifting quite a lot. Large gains could be made if you were on the right side of the shift, but the opposite was also true!
As the forecast was for the wind to shift back into the south west, Ian called an early lunch to allow the wind to do its thing. Gradually, the breeze filled in, and increased to about 12 to 15 knots. Some boats were looking for their B rig, and those who did, were under much better control.
At the conclusion of the day, seven races had been run. Glenn Dawson (10 points) held a one point lead over Warren Norrie and Brian Dill (both on 11 points). John Cole Cook was in fourth place with 15 points and Lisa Blackwood was only a point behind him.
Early on the second morning, the wind had gone really light and swung into the east – directly offshore. It would be impossible to set a typical course under those conditions, but fortunately for Ian, by the time racing was scheduled to start, the breeze had wafted around towards the south and a good course could be set.
The second morning belonged to Lisa Blackwood. Lisa turned on a clinic in the lighter airs, sailing very consistently and taking out 3 race wins to put herself up to equal points with Glenn and Brian at the lunch break. A 3 way tie set the scene for an afternoon of close competition.
Fortunately for the Swords, the wind built to about 10 knots, which evened out the playing field. A few boats had pulled out of the racing by this stage, and in an effort to get a greater number of races in, Ian put it to the skippers that the two fleets combine and sail as one fleet.
Even 4 more A Class on a start line noticeably decreased the amount of real estate available to get a good start! Viewing your boat became a priority, as many skippers found their boats hidden behind others.
The afternoon belonged to Glenn Dawson. He finished off the regatta with 4 heat wins and a second place to take the National Championships by 4 points from Brian Dill and another 17 points to Lisa Blackwood. John Cole Cook finished in 4th position with Warren Norrie taking out 5th.
The Australian Masters Champion was Denton Roberts from WA and the Grand Masters Champion was Alan Gold.
Thanks to all of the volunteers, officials, West Lakes club members and families for making the event a success. These things only happen when people put in an effort, and all the competitors appreciate your contribution greatly. Thanks particularly to Ian Dowsett for managing the regatta, Ben Morris for scoring and Frank Brooks and Alan Gold for their administration.
The results can be found here: http://www.aryanationals.com/index.php?page=2020-a-results