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British Cadet Team at the Australian Nationals in Melbourne update

by Neil Collingridge 22 Dec 2022 06:26 GMT 19-23 December 2022

Day 2

Good and not so good. Good was the weather and the fact that all the boats have emerged from the container intact. It's continues to be wall-to-wall sunshine and decent breezes. Good was also the excellent Caesar Salad at the Yacht Club - highly recommended.

Not so good has been the steering on the rib had seized due to corrosion whilst in the container - my efforts to get her spotless in the UK included cleaning any grease off with predictable (in hindsight!) consequences. And then whilst trying to unseize it the steering cable failed - too much brute force and ignorance... and then I ended up going to the police station to give a witness statement when a bald headed motorboat owner - think Buster Bloodvessel on steroids - got into an aggressive altercation with a couple who were trying to recover their boat (and avoid my broken down rib)... said baldy was so aggressive that he had to be restrained and the police were called, not before he'd got so aggressive with the woman that he'd grabbed her iPhone whilst she called the police and threw it into Prince Philip Bay. He was taken away in handcuffs and the nice man from RYCV turned up with my trailer to take me away as well (not handcuffed) - slight problem was there were 4 police cars in attendance and we didn't have a lighting board.

Also not so good was what we found when we started emptying the container. I was clearly too nice about border force Aussies yesterday as they had gone in and cut every restraining ratchet strap we had in place holding the boat racks. Probably about a dozen straps just cut loose which will have to be replaced for the return journey. Annoying!

Not a lot else to report today. Everyone happy and relaxed (me being the exception)....bring on tomorrow and measurement and the practice race. I have the name of the local marine engineers so fingers crossed they can fix the Rib.

Day 3

Rib in to the boat doctor early for a diagnosis. Hopefully back and fixed by Thursday but I'm worried things close down for Christmas at some point. The GBR team met Rhett Gowans our Aussie coach who we've given some team kit to so he's rebranded a Pom whilst he's working with us. He's a local on Prince Philip Bay and has some great credentials but perhaps most importantly he was out and about around the boat park getting to know everyone and has a great focused by relaxed air about him. Like me he doesn't know which of the various theories as to why Poms are called Poms is correct - I tend towards the "its short for Pomegranate because they turn red in the sun" explanation... speaking of which its factor 50 all round down here; as predicted the sun seems to be pretty brutal.

Practice race in the afternoon - what did we learn? Well it paid to go right pretty much all the time but was that current or wind, or possibly both? I've certainly seen photos of a distinct "tide line" in the water to the right of the start boat although we were over on the other side so not close enough to see the significance of being one side or other of it. The Brits were more or less on the pace - we thought that anyway as we generally are but its reassuring always. But its hard to draw too many conclusions - being a practice race lots were pushing the line hard (we had 3 goes at a start) and not everyone appeared to be going at it flat out.

The race track is very near to the RYCV albeit there's a busy shipping channel to cross to get to it and the conditions in the 10-12 knots were pretty short chop so getting through that is going to be important.

After sailing it was back to the relaxed atmosphere of the Yacht Club for the opening ceremony for the Aussie Nationals - sailors socialising and parents perhaps having a cheeky tinnie or two.

Day 4

First day of proper racing for the Aussie Nationals with 2 races in a decent breeze and yet again wall to wall sunshine. The mornings are a pretty relaxed affair as racing isn't starting until 2pm so plenty of time to boat bimble, socialise and hang out. The Royal Yacht Club of Victoria is a great place to hang out; friendly too.

As we got to the race track the sea breeze was in - perhaps 13 to 15 knots and it felt like it was likely to build through the afternoon - that at least was what the locals thought. But as is the case so often things aren't always as straightforwards as they seem so instead we actually saw the wind soften as the afternoon went on - perhaps down to 8 to 10 knots at times. None of that made any difference to GBR 9994 - Will and Annabel Shepherd have brought their A Game to Williamstown and came away worthy winners of both races. In the first they had initially to work past some Aussies to take the lead but once ahead they sailed to a comfortable bullet at the finish. In the second race they really had the hammer down and pulled out a cracking lead on the rest of the fleet. There were other good results within the British team with each of Toby Bush / Kemmel Thorogood (twice), Robbie Stewart / Dylan McArdle, Ed Fletcher / Alex Enkel and Mish Collingridge / Rhona Enkel scoring top 10 finishes in the 58 boat fleet and there's certainly plenty for everyone to work on. The chop and current feel like they are the big challenges but there's plenty of racing yet to really get up to speed before the Worlds kicks off after Christmas.

As we headed home in the evening the Race Officer Stephen Aulich who has a great attitude was chatting about perhaps Wednesday being a 3 race day as the forecast goes a little bit wonky after that. Nothing official as yet but that's going to be a long afternoon on the water - our ribs are fully watered up and everyone is chucking on lots of factor 50 (sorry anyone reading this in the UK) so we should be OK. The longer term forecasts are starting to predict some really hot stuff to come - maybe 37 degrees. And the GBR team is trying to get its head around what constitutes fun on Christmas Day when everything is shut but we can BYO barbeque at the Club and some of uS have been eyeing up suitable bits of kit to build and run an obstacle course San Isidro style.

Day 5

The Rib is back in time for a big day on the water and all change on the leaderboard for the Brits at the half way point of the Aussie Nationals. With lighter winds forecast but more significantly a pretty dodgy thunderstorm ridden day forecast for Day 6, our PRO was looking to get 3 races completed but with land and sea breeze battling each other we were held ashore a while to let things settle. This was to play havoc with the trip that was planned for the evening to the British Consul's residence which very regrettably had to be cancelled as we were clearly going to be on the water too late into the evening but we are after all here to sail and sail we did.

Standout performers of the day were Toby / Kemmel who took a race win and had 2 other top 10 finishes and now stand first overall. There were other top ten finishes for Ed / Alex, Mish / Rhona, Sarah McEwan / Holly Jones and Amelia Mayhew / Hettie Jones and for now the GBR Cadet Team has 3 of the top 4 spots overall. So its still early days and none of this really matters when it gets to the Worlds next week over than its really encouraging to see our sailors on the pace.

As well as being a big day it was long too. The fleet had to stop on its wa in to let a Princess Cruises liner come out of the harbour. Sporting a red ensign and presumably with some Poms on board I was left wondering what they made of a gaggle of Cadets with GBR sail numbers down here on Port Philip Bay so far from home. In any event we were back ashore just after 18.30 so the earlier call to can the evening trip proved the correct one and instead there was an opportunity for a bit more socialising on the RYCV terrace whilst a few little trips to the arbitration room took place. Glad to say none of those adversely impacted our sailors.

We've found a moment to dust down and refresh the 12 Cadets of Christmas song from 2016 and hopes are high that we when it's sung it might be more tuneful than its last outing in Buenos Aires. At least one parent was breaking into an impressive impromptu "I did it my way" outside an Italian restaurant on the pavement in Williamstown last night so perhaps we have some better musical talent in the team than previously. We will report back on that with the wrap up of the Aussie Nationals after Christmas.

Results can be found here.

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