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At the front of the fleet.

by John Curnow, Editor, Sail-World AUS 16 Jan 21:00 GMT
18ft Skiff JJ Giltinan Championship day 6: tech2 heads for the finish line a big winner © Frank Quealey

Handy position to be in, no matter whether it is icy pole sticks in a drain, or Grand Prix boats out in the big blue. Since my last ditty, I noticed that three podiums in the one race were all powered by North Sails. Black Jack collected Line Honours in the Hobart, Ichi Ban IRC overall, and Sam Haynes' Celestial overall under ORCi, and also IRC Div1. Subsequently, this opened the door to talk to a few of the team there about not only that race, but all of the activity of late from Harbour to River, Broadwater to Bay. Here's a look at just some of it.

Caught up with Sam Haynes who had been enjoying the delightful and renowned Tasmanian hospitality after the Hobart, just before he jumped on board a Melges 32 to do a twilight from Bellerive, which was about the same time as the evening session of the test cricket at Hobart got under way.

"It was a Combined Clubs charity event fundraiser following on from the dreadful Hillcrest jumping castle disaster, so that put a special meaning to it all. I got to steer, which was great, there was enough breeze, and a few fairly good rides. It was a lot of fun, and good to see how the Melges 32 goes. Nice boat!"

Now in addition to the TP52 Haynes campaigns, he also has a J/70 under the name, Celestial. Whilst on the Apple Isle, the J/70 got a workout in a Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron twilight regatta. Haynes commented, "David Chapman, Martin Hill, and Chris Way all had a guest drive as part of the journey continuing to promote the class here in Australia."

"I've found the J/70 to be very helpful with sailing the TP, because of the feel you develop. One Design does that - hone your skills a fair bit, and it improves your course management and strategy too." Makes a lot of sense, as a many a dinghy and skiff driver makes for a very handy helmer on a big boat - think Bertrand, Murray, Slingsby, Outteridge, and many others. In a different field of endeavour, but also very much proving the point, all of the world's great rowing eights are made up of four crews who row pairs, precisely for their skill and balance levels. (Remember, at full noise an elite crew will do just over 12 knots.)

Haynes continued, "During lockdown it was also good to have the J/70, as we could sail her two-up, instead of the usual four. There is a group of us, who also appear on the TP, and they include, David Chapman as Tactician, Jack Macartney, Lewis Brake, Locky Pryor, and Johnny Warren. There's a lot on for us with the J/70 NSW State Championship coming up this weekend, and maybe a national title at some point, but certainly the VIC State Championship back at Blairgowrie this March" (which could end up being the Nationals again).

As for the TP, well the Chairman of The Sailing Committee at the CYCA is "...looking forward to their Summer Offshore Series, which will include Montague Island, and we'll see what plays out, but the weather patterns at that time of year should be a lot kinder, especially as we are all about taking people from Cat4 racing up to Cat2. In addition to that there is Newcastle's Sailfest TP event, so it will be good to have the boat set up for inshore mode, and of course, the magnificent Sail Port Stephens to definitely be in attendance for."

Even more Jay, and some Em

Rob Greenhalgh did the Hobart on Whisper as a Watch Captain, but is also the Class Leader for the Moths at North Sails. "It has been a bit hard juggling the two Summers, but I am certainly looking forward to getting out with the Moth and testing the new kit we have created. We have worked hard to keep developing our products in a hard market place hit with significant logistics and production issues in the Covid era, so it is nice to be able to now test it out for real."

As for the J/70, well Rob also sailed in the recent twilight regatta, and commented about it all, "They are working hard to build the class, and every boat in AUS is sailing. There's a 12-month waiting list for a new one, so it must be going pretty well around the globe. The World Championship is in Monaco in October, and Sam as well as Tim Ryan will have new craft in Europe ready to go for Cowes Week, The European Championship and then the Worlds."

"Eight out of the nine J/70s in Sydney were there for the RSYS Twilight Regatta of 14 races over four nights, so it was a short course, sprint series style of event. There was not a lot of wind, some rain, but lots of fun, and few chats on the hardstand. Most of all it was good to get everyone energised ahead of States. Good luck to all for that one, and hopefully a Nationals for the 20 boat fleet can happen soon enough", said Greenhalgh in closing.

Interestingly, quite a few 'name' sailors were there, like Richie Allanson, David Chapman, Noel Drennan, and Ben Lamb. Some of whom had also been involved in the recent David Forbes Shield Regatta as well.

Getting your skates on.

Jack Macartney was the Tactician/Sailing Master on Celestial for the Hobart. Of stepping down from the supermaxi, Macartney said, "Alby Pratt from North Sails got me on board when Scallywag was not going to do the 2020 Hobart. Sam and I built a really good rapport together, and so we set up for the 2021 race. The TP racing is really close in Australia, and they are well campaigned. I have been very much enjoying it."

Stepping down in size once more, but definitely not thrills, Macartney commented, "We've got the Nationals before the JJ's (J.J. Giltinan) in the 18s in March. We are Having a full crack at it in Tech2, with Charlie Wyatt (who was on Law Connect and we met as part of the Scallywag team), and Lewis Brake (Finn and also 49er squad with Emmett Lazich). Lewis did the mainsheet on Celestial with us."

"Our Bret van Munster boat has only done the two seasons of racing, even though she was built a while back. Our crew is fired up, and looking forward to the two big regattas - we've been the reigning Australian Champions for the last two years now, and looking to collect the lot to clear the unfinished business."

"Training begins in earnest pretty much about now, in conjunction with club racing, and our thanks go to our committed sponsor Glen Powys. He's a ball of energy, wants us to do well, and grow as a team", said Macartney in closing. Looks like they have the red eyes of the real Boxing Kangaroo all right!

In finishing, during a recent chat, North Sails Australia supremo, Mark Bradford said, "It's been great to see so much activity occurring across all the classes. Personally, my thanks go to Peter (Harburg), and all of the team that have made the Black Jack journey so far, culminating in the Line Honours win."

That is terrific, but as the season still has plenty of bang to offer, there's a load more to come, so it is just awesome that sailors can sail, yachts are not tied to quays, and some fun can be had. Nice. WoooHoooo.

Stay safe, thanks for tuning into, and keep swinging in 2022.

John Curnow
Editor, Sail-World AUS

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