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Dangerous bedtime stories at the Gant Portsea Cup

by A.J. McKinnon 5 Jan 2020 15:46 GMT

The Gant Portsea Cup was held at the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club this weekend. It started with the traditional breakfast, which was held upstairs in the dinning room this year, instead of the marquee. The breakfast is always a very well attended event because it has some of the cream of Australian sailing come to entrain us all. These have included John Bertrand, Tom Slingsby, Peter Burling, and Nathan Outteridge. This year, Andrew Plympton interviewed Jessica Watson, who inspired us with her journey, and also gave parents something to think about.

The dangers of bed time stories... As a young girl of 11, Jessica told us of how her parents would read her bedtime stories. One of these stories was by Jesse Martin. This sowed the seed, and five years later she would be off on her own adventure around the World. As if passing the baton, Scarlett also aged 11, won a copy of Jessica’s book. Racing in the Gant Portsea Cup got underway on Sunday at 1005hrs for Division One, and 1010hrs for Division Two. Racing on the Saturday was postponed until the Sunday, die to strong pre-frontal winds that swept through.

Sunday offered far a more pleasant breeze of around 10 knots, with all the models predicting it to increase to around 14 knots during the day. Course Five was selected for Division One, and Course Four for Division Two. Both (Olympic) courses consisted of a number of triangles to the wing mark and windward returns. The weather mark was set at bearing of 120 degrees, at a range of 0.8nm. Unlike the recent Australian Championship, General Recalls were not a feature of the starting procedure, so both fleets got away at their respective scheduled times.

However, rather than the wind increasing in pressure as the day went on, it did the exact opposite, with the breeze dying as the tide came in. This resulted in the Race Committee deciding to abandon racing for Division Two. The PRO, Ben Fels stated, “Despite working all the options available, unfortunately a fair race for all of Division Two was not possible, as a much of the fleet would not be able to finish in the allotted time. The race for this division will resailed at a later date.”

Division One was able to get a result, although they had their course shortened. Line Honours went to C2003 Romy, which is skippered by David Hendy. On board was Jack Abbott, one of the many younger crewmembers sailing on the Couta Boats. He is usually sailing a WASZP, but today he was in charge of shifts and tactics aboard the boat.

The winner of the Gant Portsea Cup was C2011 Sorrento, which is skippered by Lauchie Vaughan, who at 17 is likely to be the youngest person to win the Cup. In charge of his father’s boat, Vaughan said, “I had to sail four years before Dad let me have a helm, but Dad is keen to support us.”

Second place went to C2008 Southerly skippered by Jim Wilshire who travelled all the way from Western Australia. “It is beautiful sailing here, every time we get something different. Port Phillip is truly sensational. While it is a tricky place to sail, we have learned so much. It is also great to sail with the next generation coming trough, but they are too fast for us old blokes.”

Third place was C97 Skippered by Harry Mighell, who commented, “Port Phillip is always a tricky place to sail, but it really turned it on today. There were five or six lead changes on the last beat alone. Everyone had their time in the sun, but C2003 Romy was there at the end to take Line Honours. It was a great test of tactics with the breeze and the tide.”

It is not by accident that there are so many young people sailing, as James Mighell (Couta Boat Association President) explains, “The sailing club, driven by Howard Critchley and the CBA have been working very hard to grow the fleet, and also attract many more female and young members into the class. Hopefully this will continue, as too the number of women helming and crewing Couta Boats.”

Following the race, around 250 crews enjoyed the traditional picnic. This year was a little different from previous years, as the focus was on raising money for the bush fire appeal through the Red Cross. Lunch was provided for free by Sally Meaden and her food truck business, Takn2Mrket, as well as Andrew and Many Gray from Raw Materials. In return for lunch, people were asked to donate to the appeal. Close to $1500.00 was collected, this is on to of the $1000.00 given by SSCBC, and the $1000.00 given by the sponsor of the weekend, Gant. Thank you to everybody for their contributions.

A full list of results can be found here.

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