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RS Aero Australian Championship fleet hail Port Stephens 'best sailing venue'

by Lisa Ratcliff 10 Dec 2018 11:05 GMT 6-9 December 2018
RS Aero National Championship 2018 © Sailing Raceboats

Port Stephens hosted the RS Aero Australian Championship December 6 - 9, 2018, drawing a majority New South Wales and Victorian contingent keen to sample the waters before the strong European and USA fleets arrive for the class' world championship in December 2019.

Across the three different sized rigs, 5m, 7m, and 9m, the verdict among competitors was that sailing at Port Stephens in summer is an experience second-to-none - light morning winds building to solid north-easterlies each afternoon ideal conditions for the national title.

Behind the seasoned Chris Brain in the 5m category was Victoria Land from Mount Martha Yacht Club south of Melbourne. Buoyed by her result and first competitive experience in the growing dinghy class, Land is now on her way to the 2019 worlds at Port Stephens, December 17 – 22, with confidence, even considering engaging a sailing coach.

The class newcomer competed in Ironman events way back, then equestrian, and now she's come to sailing to the delight of her Godparents who have sailed around the world and instilled the fascination. "I'm going to sort out a training program for the worlds," Land said on arrival back in Melbourne, feeling good considering the non-stop schedule and interstate travel and showing less bruising than she anticipated for her first heavy-air regatta. "The first few days were quite windy - I'd never sailed in more than 15 knots of wind so I jumped in the deep end!"

Winner of the Aero 7m division Rhett Gowans, also from Victoria, beat his training partner Michael O'Brien by three points over 10 races. "We had really amazing conditions, 15-20 knots each day," Gowans said, adding "Now I want to do well at the worlds. Australia is quite new at the Aero class having adopted the boats only two years ago whereas in Europe the class is five-years-old. We expect the northern hemisphere Aero sailors to be strong in 2019."

Organiser and competitor Simon Reffold from Sydney, who won the 9m division, said "At the beginning of the series the fleet was spread out and by the final day it had compressed. A lot of people who hadn't raced the Aero before gained a lot of racing experience. Port Stephens Sailing and Aquatic Club put in a huge effort to make it happen and now we have a template for the RS Aero World Championship 2019 I'm confident we will turn on a quality event, especially with many competitors at this event adding their name to the organising committee.

"Port Stephens is just brilliant - the sailing is exceptional on a massive open waterway and every single person I spoke to agreed 'this is the best venue!'"

Staged out of the PSSAC at Soldiers Point and administered by professional race officer Denis Thompson, 20 competitors enjoyed four days of quality on-water management, ideal conditions and plenty of social time après racing, considered equally important to results within the Aero community.

Further information including final results can be found here.

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