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Port Stephens hosting RS Aero Australian Championship

by Lisa Ratcliff 6 Dec 2018 02:52 GMT 6-9 December 2018
Aero fleet start at the Victorian OK States © Chris Visick

The precursor to the 2019 RS Aero Worlds in December is the RS Aero Australian Championship which begins today at Port Stephens when a competitive field from NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the UK start their four-day quest for the highly-prized national title.

Three different size Aero rigs, the 5m, 7m and 9m, provide options to suit most body types and strengths. The bulk of the mixed gender nationals' fleet of 19 have opted for the mid-range 7 rig, perfect for lighter adults on the path to next year's world title which will be staged on the same waters.

Port Stephens Sailing and Aquatic Club, the RS Aero Australian Class Association plus Sydney stockist The Aquatic Club have appointed Principal Race Officer Denis Thompson to conduct racing in Salamander Bay from Thursday December 6 to Sunday 9, 2018.

A maximum 10 races comprise the series with a 1pm start scheduled for day one then 11.30am starts for the remaining three days.

UK-based class guru Ben Rolfe, who is in the country trialling for next year's worlds, said "I'm looking forward to the racing this week. I haven't done an Australian event before so it's hard to tell what the competition will be like. I feel fit and ready to race others in the 9-metre RS Aeros and it should be epic out in Salamander Bay with a great forecast."

At the other end of the Aero journey are Sydney yachtsmen John Bacon and Terry Wetton, better known for their years in keelboat racing at a high level than for single-person dinghy campaigns.

Prior to the Aero, Wetton hadn't sailed a dinghy in 45 years and his training partner Bacon last raced a Laser in Oman in 2012. "We are here to compete in the 'Green fleet'," Bacon jokes. "They are just beautiful boats and great for helming practice and fitness. We've both had an Aero for six months and haven't contested a race yet - mostly because we've been swimming alongside the boats. We'll get hosed at this regatta, but we'll have fun in the process."

Tom Pearce from the Aero distributor Sailing Raceboats says, "We are so happy that the Aero is taking the same sort of hold here in Australia as it in Europe and the US. For us it's about maintaining the same event vibe the class generates overseas and having been to a couple now, the friendliness is part of the Australian class. I do know we Aussies are all secretly highly competitive though, behind the smiles, so I'm anticipating friendships will be put to one side once we hit the water this week."

The 2018 Aero nationals will be staged with the support of Rooster Sailing Australia, The Life Aquatic and Sailing Raceboats with additional support from local businesses and the NSW government to establish world-class facilities in an ideal location with a handy host yacht club, plenty of nearby accommodation and superb flat-water summer racing.

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