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2020 Flying Fifteen Australian Championship at Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron

by Chris Howell / Jonny Fullerton 24 Jan 06:37 GMT 12-18 January 2020
F15s at Flying Fifteen Australian Championship 2020 © Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron

A fleet of 20 Flying Fifteens made the long journey from all over Australia to compete at the 2020 Flying Fifteen Australian Championship held in Waterloo Bay just south of the Brisbane River in Queensland.

Some competitors had a long journey navigating around a host of bush fires still plaguing the country. Visitors came from as far as England, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

Local sailors Ashley Smith and Adam Kingston from host club the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, clinched the 2020 Flying Fifteen Australian National Championship with a string of race wins and second places. It is the second time that the pair have won the famous Coweslip trophy, the last being when the regatta was sailed close by out of Sandgate YC on home waters in 2015.

Races 1 & 2 - Monday was a big day!

The invitation race was due to start early and there would have been a break before the start of championship racing. On shore many crews were debating whether to go out at all due to strong winds.

In the end, 17 Flying Fifteens took to the start line for Race 1. The breeze was strong and the swell was short, sharp and the frequency was inconsistent, making it hard to make way upwind. The course laid was for a windward / leeward return, followed by a triangle to the finish. The reaches were sailed in firehose conditions!

(The Flying Flamingos), Lewis Davies and John Radnell from Victoria, took out race 1 from local champions, Ashley Smith and Adam Kingston sailing (Sake). Coming in third was (Surprise by Giver AUS) sailed by Stephen Fries and Richard Machin from Sandringham YC in Victoria.

Conditions for the second race of the day were much the same with regular gusts coming through causing havoc. The course was reduced to a two lap windward / leeward blast.

There were boats broaching and spinnakers blown out but the downwind runs were exciting. Only one boat out of the top four finished with her spinnaker up and in one piece. There were only 13 finishers with some electing not to stay on the water for race 2, however those that stayed the course enjoyed a wild ride.

Race 2 was won by Stephen Fries and Richard Machin from Ashley Smith and Adam Kingston again in second and John Wilson and Matt Summers from South of Perth YC in third.

Ashley Smith skipper of (Sake):

"We haven't seen conditions like those conditions today all season. While our upwind speed was not the best, downwind was working well and we made up what ground we lost on the upwind".

John Wilson skipper of (Ffast Lane 4):

"The races were well run in such tough conditions. Lots of fun!".

Boats and equipment a work in progress for races 3 & 4

Crews, sailmakers and boatbuilders were busy overnight and boats and equipment were still being worked on in the morning with the smell of epoxy in the air before the start of the second day of racing. All boats and crews made it out to the race course for a slightly easier day of racing in south easterly winds in the 15 - 18 knot range, ideal conditions for Flying Fifteen sailing.

The breeze did shift a little more and the crews that picked the shifts well and were on the correct side of the course managed to make their way to the top of the results board.

(Fflashpoint) sailed by Peter Rooke and Paul Dunbar from South of Perth YC, took out the race win in Race 3, followed by the local Queenslanders, Ashley Smith and Adam Kingston (Sake) in their trade mark second position, and an excellent performance by Russell Shannon and Les Kearney (TCBYC) sailing (Reliance ffenty foo) joined the podium finishers in third.

In Race 4 the Victorians Stephan Fries and Richard Machin (Surprise by Giver AUS) stole the race win at the last rounding mark from the consistency of Ashley Smith and Adam Kingston (Sake) recording their fourth second place. Coming in third was David Tabb and Dave Bennett (Ark) representing CBSC.

Stephen Fries (Surprise by Giver AUS) recounted in the last race of the day struggling to make the top mark with Sake slightly to leeward.

"They couldn't quite make the mark and were forced to tack twice to make it around the mark. That gave us a 50 meter lead and we managed to hold them until the finish and take the win".

Sake on fire in races 5 & 6

A double bullet day for the locals representing the host club, Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron.

The first race of the day (race 5) got under way without delay in a 10 knot ESE breeze. The course was set for a windward/return, followed by a triangle. After the first windward/return, the race officer moved the windward mark to allow for a substantial change in breeze to the East.

The Queenslander's Ashley Smith and Adam Kingston came out of the blocks on fire to lead the fleet home for their first race win of the series. They were followed across the line by their closest opposition in the championship to date, Stephen Fries and Richard Machin from Sandringham. David Tabb and Dave Bennett (Ark) continue their climb up the overall leaderboard taking out third.

There was a short delay before starting race 6 so that the race committee could shift the race course to account for the breeze which had shifted East, then a further delay as the breeze moved further to the North, finally settling at 070 degrees.

There were 2 general recalls before the U flag was displayed but it still resulted in a clean start. The top mark was set perfectly underneath the middle of Green Island. With the influence of the island there were many shifts of up to 10 degrees and when closing in on the mark these became of greater effect.

This race, a 2 lap windward/leeward course, was closely fought out with close crossings and busy mark rounding's. The big movers in this race was series leader (Sake) skippered by Ashley Smith rounding the first windward mark in 14th position but passing the fleet to be first boat across the finish line.

Second in this race was (The Flying Flamingo), Lewis Davies and John Radnell from DBSC in Victoria. A new name on the podium came in third, Sean Langmann and crew Peter Inchbold from the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in Sydney.

Adam Kingston, Sake crew said:

"We were forced out to the left on the first work and found a nice left hand shift coming in on the port lay line. After rounding the mark, we knew which side to go. We sailed high and fast to the corner and picked up the next shift. A good day today"

Peter Shaw from Tin Can Bay Yacht Club is sailing with his 14 year old son, Nick. "The Fifteens are a great, fun boat to sail. Nick is having a lot of fun and so am I". Peter and Nick scored a 15th and 17th today and are currently 1 point behind the leaders in the Silver division. With 6 out of 9 scheduled races completed, the first discard came into play.

Sake has one hand on the trophy

The forecast was for 10 - 12 knots of NE winds accompanied by rain showers for races 7 & 8. With the first warning signal scheduled for 13:30 hrs and a high tide at 14:42 hrs the tide would be flooding during first race and then starting to run out in second race. Surely this would give the teams a lot to think about with the NE course run in the lee of Green Island.

As the crews rigged the boats and launched them to set-out to the race area, there were passing showers, some quite heavy. A particularly heavy shower killed the breeze so with paddles at the ready, some boats made it to the mouth of the harbour before the NE breeze started to filter in.

Racing was under way with a slight delay so that the course was laid to match the new breeze. It was pleasing to see that there was a number of spectator boats out on the course supporting the teams.

The first race of the day got under way in 10 - 12 kts breezes as predicted and conditions were perfect. The course set was for a windward/return, followed by a triangle. When crews made the windward mark, they found that the offset mark was quite a distance away and further to windward. The windward mark had to be reset during the running leg. The reaches were fun with the second reaching leg being quite tight and challenging for the teams to keep the boats under them.

The top three finishers for race 7 where (Ark) sailed by David Tabb and Dave Bennett taking the gun, followed by (Sake) Ashley Smith and Adam Kingston RQYS with (Surprise by Giver AUS) skippered by Stephen Fries and crewed by Richard Machin from Sandringham YC.

The breeze kicked up a little for Race 8. The battle between (Sake) and (Surprise By Giver AUS) was at melting point with just 4 points separating them, (Sake) with the upper hand. The race got under way and an individual recall flag was shown. No boats returned, meaning someone was going to get some bad news when making shore.

As in the first race of the day, there were shifts and lulls and managing those was key to success. (Sake), after a rough start moved through the fleet to take second place behind Flying Fifteen stalwarts John Wilson and Matt Summers from South of Perth YC. Only 8 seconds behind the leaders, 3rd place went to (Ark), sailed by David Tabb and Dave Bennett, having a great day after winning the first race of the day. Close finishes echoed throughout the fleet with many places being separated by seconds.

Ashley Smith and Adam Kingston clinch the title on the final day or racing

Ashley Smith and Adam Kingston from Royal Queensland Yacht Club did enough to seal the 2020 Flying Fifteen Australian Championship with a 5th in the final race of the regatta. It was there worst result, the remainder being all firsts or seconds. It is the second time that the pair have won the famous Coweslip trophy, the last being when the regatta was sailed close by out of Sandgate YC on home waters in 2015.

The forecast for the final day of racing matched yesterday's forecast of 10 - 12 knot s from the NE. Overnight there was quite a lot rain, causing minor flooding in some areas. Rain threatened again throughout the day and the breeze was initially from the ESE. Only one race was scheduled for the final day of racing to decide the series.

The start got away cleanly and there seemed to be only two themes - go left or go right. Regardless of the side of the course it was a tactical battle, both upwind and downwind with substantial shifts and varying pressure on the course.

Race 9 of the series was won by John Wilson and Matt Summers (Ffast Lane 4) from Peter Rooke and Paul Dunbar (Fflashpoint), both from South of Perth YC in Western Australia. Third over the line was Sean Langman and Peter Inchbold sailing (Miss Moneypenny) from Sydney. In fourth an excellent performance by Ed Brewis and Sue Thompson from DBYC, their best result of the regatta by far.

Unfortunately for Stephen Fries and Richard Machin from Victoria, they appeared to be called OCS in the only race of the day but fortunately the crew had sailed a consistent series to hold on to second overall by a comfortable margin of 8 points.

By virtue of their final race performance the two boats from WA took out third and fourth, Peter Rooke and Paul Dunbar just edging their club mates John Wilson and Matt Summers by a single point. Also having sailed a solid regatta (The Flying Flamingo) Lewis Davies and John Radnell were pushed down into 5th place on countback.

Overall Results:

PosSail NoBoat NameSkipperCrewClubR1R2R3R4R5R6R7R8R9Pts
13972SakeAshley SmithAdam KingstonRQYS[2]2221122[5]12
23651Surprise by GiverAUSStephen FriesRichard MachinSandringham YC3141263[11][21C]20
33855FflashpointPeter RookePaul DunbarSoPYC4[7]15745[8]228
43989Ffast Lane 4John WilsonMatt SummersSoPYC5356[12]8[10]1129
53890The Flying FlamingoLewis DaviesJohn RadnellDBYC14[9]4626[21O]629
63941ARKDavid TabbDave BennettCBSC[21R]9833[10]131037
74007Miss MoneypennySean LangmanPeter InchboldCYCA75[11]10[11]379344
84062Up Ship CreekChris VillaMark HolmesLMYC1086[12]4796[11]50
93572Reliance 17Greg WilliamsonLaurie WilliamsonSandgate YC66798[12]11[16]1259
103858Second BreakfastKaren DawesRussell DawesSoPYC1211[13]7[14]985860
113854Reliance ffenty ffooRussell ShannonLes KearneyTCBYC14[21F]313135413[15]65
123930Aussie FalconDale CollingsDaniel JonesDBYC/MSC813128511[15]10[16]67
133767BubblesKen BubbLee BubbTCBYC13[21C]15149[16]124976
143657Super SnabbMatthew MitchellGraham GilesCYC91214[15][16]15137777
153710SNAffUPaul YoungChris HowellSandgate YC11101011[17]13[14]121481
163931!Ed BrewisSue ThompsonDBYC[21C][21C]161610181614494
173836EffeffexGary RichardsonKarl GottsDSC15[21C][21S]171814171513109
183306Flying FishPeter ShawNick ShawTCBYC[21C][21C]19181517181717121
192911Split EnzPaul van RuggeCarl van RuggeLMYC16[21S]17201919[21I]1818127
202758Free To AirGraham LeeDiane LeeTCBYC17[21C]1819[20]20201919132

Winner of the three boat Silver fleet was (Flying Fish) sailed by Peter Shaw and Nich Shaw from TCBYC.

Winner on the handicap system of scoring was John Wilson and Matt Summers (Ffast Lane 4) from SoPYC.

Thanks went to RQYS for hosting and running a great regatta. Thanks also to all the visitors from far and wide, as far as England, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney. We wish you safe travel home and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Full results can be found on the regatta website.

With the 2021 Flying Fifteen World Championships to be held at Fremantle, WA in February next year the Australian fleet will be making the journey across the Nullarbor to Western Australia for the next Australian Nationals. For more details on the 2021 event visit the website.

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