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Vipers using Sailing World Cup Melbourne as world championship preparation

by Lisa Ratcliff, SWCF media on 10 Dec 2016 4-11 December 2016
Vipers at Sailing World Cup Melbourne © Jeff Crow / Sport the Library

Young gun Jack Challands started sailing at four years of age and at the Sailing World Cup Final Melbourne, December 4-11, the now 14 year-old is skippering a Viper multihull in preparation for the 2017 Viper Worlds across Port Phillip Bay at Geelong.

Crewmate Harrison Rietman is racing with Challands in the World Cup's Invited classes competition that began late, on Saturday rather than Thursday after bad weather and a chopped up Port Phillip Bay wiped two days off the schedule.

After the World Cup and Viper Worlds starting January 7, 2017 the Mordialloc based Challands will switch from the Viper to training with crewmate Lachlan Hughes on a different multihull - the foiling Nacra 15 - as they vie for the sole Australian spot in the class at the 2017 Youth World Championship.

The January Viper world title will be Challands' second having skippered a Viper at the F16 World Championship in Belgium in July among a mostly adult fleet, one of two 13 year-old youngest skippers.

Challands has big plans in the sport... 2017 Youth Worlds, 2018 Youth Olympic Games, 2024 Olympic Games and America's Cup, if all his goals line up.

"I just love sailing. It's fun to be on the water, it gets you away...it's fast," Challands explains. "I've been on a couple of foiling boats lately, I love it. Mentally you have to be switched on, and physically. I play football and am in the gym three times a week which keeps me fit."

Claire Campbell is another teenage helm using the Sailing World Cup Melbourne being staged off the St Kilda Sailing Precinct as training for her debut Viper Worlds with crew James Moeller. On choosing the Viper the year 11 student says, "I like how fast the boat goes, plus I like being on the trapeze and I couldn't do that in another class."

When Simon Dubbin's regular crew didn't show up at an Easter regatta, Claire's younger brother Chris filled in. Eight months on the youngest Viper competitor at the World Cup, 14 year-old Chris, is permanent crew for the oldest skipper - and the pair was champing at the bit to finally race on Saturday.

Chris and many of the younger Viper sailors wear safety helmets, for very good reason. "We had a really good stack at Geelong earlier this year, the nose dug in and I got thrown off then Simon nearly ran over me!" Chris said.

The power to weight ratio works well for the duo and the younger Campbell says he's learning a lot. "Simon has started to get me skippering a bit more in the lighter stuff, to teach me, and he's also teaching me to move back and forward, and telling me what to do with the mainsheet."

Similar to Challands, the Campbells work hard to maintain their fitness off the boat with swimming, gym, stretching and weights.

Tayla Rietman and Lachie White on Thanks Again Dad lead the fleet after two races in light sou'westers on the bay, and Challands and Tayla's brother Harrison are second with their boat Forward Sailing.

Viper results can be found here.

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