Seven Victorian crews were joined by Australia’s number 1 & 2 ranked teams from New South Wales to contest the first ever J/70 Victorian State Championships at Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron (BYS) over the Victorian Labour Day long weekend March 12-14, 2022.
The host club’s four entries include two youth teams – Alex Bolton driving the new BYS club boat Spike and Daisy Laing’s all female crew aboard Javelin.
Sorrento Sailing Club (SSCBC) also fielded a youth entry led by Charlie Dixon sailing the chartered Jo Jo Zip. Despite having little time aboard a J/70 prior to the event, Charlie’s team clicked instantly to put on a fine display across all three days. Having J/70 youth sailors from both major southern bay clubs is an exciting prospect as the Victorian fleet continues to grow.
Following a brief welcome session on Saturday morning the fleet was treated to four back-to-back heats on the stadium course. Conditions tested crews as the tide ran hard and upwind strategy proved critical in the southerly that built steadily to 15 knots. Honours were shared by the pro teams from Sydney, current Nat Champ Tim Ryan in Vamos and Sam Haynes in Celestial with Rod Warren’s Joust 70 and Brendan Lee’s multiple J/24 champion team aboard Madness nipping at their heels.
Sunday dawned with a very light and unstable breeze from the north. After much of the day spent under AP the net result was a solitary race, concluded just before the breeze gave out completely with boats making for the marina under tow or auxiliary power. Vamos and Celestial retained top spots in the Open fleet with Madness the leading Corinthian as eyes turned to Monday and a forecast that was heralding even lighter conditions.
A sultry holiday Monday greeted sailors with models promising but a zephyr until late afternoon. Notwithstanding the lean predictions RO Pete Southwell ventured out – his faith rewarded around 1130 with a stable 6-knot southerly on course. The AP came down and teams scurried towards their awaiting craft with the same spirited clip scrambling WWII Spitfire squadrons became famous for. Tide was again a major factor in the three races completed – in combination with a breeze shifting persistently to the east it was the left side of the course yielding better dividends and starts became a contest to secure a clear starboard lane to the new breeze. Madness ensured the pros weren’t to have it all their way, scoring a fine win in heat 6 – all but sewing up their Corinthian title. Final race spoils were shared by Celestial and Vamos with Alex Bolton’s Spike showing great pace all day, rewarded by a 4th place finish in race 8. Once again, Tim Ryan and his crew of Rob Greenhalgh, Ian McKillop and Will Sargent had overcome southern Port Phillip’s currents and meteorological mysteries to make it a second successive J/70 regatta win for Vamos at BYS with Sam Haynes and Celestial worthy runners up in the Open Division.
Prize giving saw Andrew “Doc” Little and BYS Commodore Matt McCarthy doing the honours, acknowledging not only the successful sailors but also the large contingent of hardworking volunteers and staff that combined to make the regatta a memorable one.
Of particular note was the strong representation by younger sailors, again proving the J/70 to be one of the premier pathway classes for those seeking quality one design racing beyond the Australian Sailing Youth supported dinghy fleets and performance training programs.
Attention now turns to the 5th Australian Championship to be hosted by Cruising Yacht Club of Australia at Easter and a winter program that will see several new additions to the Victorian fleet, boosting the ranks at both Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC) and Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron.
By Andy McIntyre
1st Vamos (CYCA) – Tim Ryan
2nd Celestial (CYCA) – Sam Haynes
3rd Joust70 (SYC) – Rod Warren
1st Madness (SYC) – Brendan Lee
2nd Jumpin’ Jack Flash (BYS) – Andy McIntyre
3rd Spike (BYS) – Alex Bolton
Spike (BYS) – Alex Bolton
Javelin (BYS) – Daisy Laing
Jo Jo Zip (SSCBC) – Charlie Dixon