Some lucky Hillarys dinghy sailors from the Optimist and Laser Classes participated in their 2018 Australian Championships during late December 2017 to early January 2018.
Hosted by the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, these regattas are highly competitive environments with big fleets, which also form a pathway to World and Olympic events.
In the Optimist Class for sailors up to 15 years of age, we had one sailor, Aidan Gardner, in the Silver fleet of 67 boats. Aidan placed 32nd. We had three sailors, Ben Graham, Bradley Dick and Mitchell Graham, in the Intermediate fleet of 76 boats. Our best placed sailor was Ben in 22nd place. We had one sailor, Monte Dowdall, in the Green fleet of 48 boats. This regatta was mostly sailed in light winds which tested the experience of our sailors.
In the Laser Class, we had three sailors Marcus Fisk, Jackson Porter and Nick Willis, in the Laser Radial fleet of 75 boats which is the intermediate category for this Class. Our best placed sailor was Marcus in 9th place. We had two sailors, Eleanor Wise and Bryce Taylor, in the Laser 4.7 fleet of 62 boats which is the smaller size category for this Class. Our best Placed sailor was Eleanor in 30th place. This regatta had a variety of winds.
Our sailors were supported by our coach Chris Kelly and the competitor’s family members.
Jackson and Bryce then participated in the Australian Youth Championships at the same venue. Jackson improved his performance with a 20th place. Bryce also gained from the experience and placed 28th.
Our team had prepared well and provided their best performance, and are congratulated on their terrific efforts. Our Club will benefit from the experience gained by our team of sailors and supporters who will help to continue to develop our sport at Hillarys.
A Sailor's Perspective
Competing in his first National competition, Ben Graham gives his account of the Queensland experience:
When I arrived in Brisbane for the Optimist Nationals, I felt very nervous because of the amount of boats and sailors at the event, it was bigger than I imagined. The weather was extremely hot and humid everyday with hardly any breeze or temperature relief. Coach Chris [Kelly] was making sure we were all drinking enough water and getting plenty of rest.
Firstly, we unpacked our boats from the container, set up our rigs and completed safety and measurement responsibilities as soon as we could.
It was then time to head out on the water with Coach Chris for some pre-race training, to check out the water conditions and currents in preparation for race day. After training each day, we debriefed and had some free time to cool down in the pool and some of us used the Club’s paddle boards to relax and have some fun in the water.
It was then time for racing. I feel I started off very well coming 8th in my first race. However, the wind disappeared and the smaller, lighter weight sailor’s, were able to move full steam ahead of us. The lack of wind at the Regatta was the most challenging part of my experience. This however has benefited me personally, as I feel my tacking skills in light winds has improved a lot, and on the days we had some wind, all HYC sailors performed very well in the top 10 in intermediate.
One of my favorite times on my trip was our rest day. We went to Stradbroke Island for the day, about a 25 minute ferry ride from Manly. We had a small group of sailors join us on our trip, some from other WA clubs and went surfing. Marcus came with us also and he was very good at surfing. It was funny to watch everyone trying to surf, even the Mum’s and Dad’s joined in and we all laughed a lot, it was great fun.
I enjoyed helping our WA Open Fleet and Marcus retrieve their boats and organize the trolleys on the boat ramp after I had finished my day sailing. I was excited to support and congratulate them on their efforts. I was kindly recognized for this by the WAIODA team and coaches.
I am very happy with my performance considering the tricky lack of wind conditions and the fun I had with all of my team.
Now that I know what to expect, I would like to work very hard to develop my boat skills further so I can be prepared and attend the Nationals in Hobart 2019 in the Open Fleet.
Photos clockwise: HYC 2018 team take 6th, 7th & 8th place; Jackon and John Porter; 2018 HYC Optimist team.
Bottom: Preparing for races in the Optimist class