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British Cadet Team at the Australian Nationals in Melbourne overall

by Neil Collingridge 24 Dec 2022 07:09 GMT 19-23 December 2022

Day 6

Not much to say - thunderstorms and lightening, very very frightening me... Galileo, Galileo, magnifico... cue mad guitar solo etc.

We launched, the clouds cleared overhead but there were big black jobs to the north and rumbles and flashes. Our PRO worked ever so hard to get a race in - it's a thankless task on days like today - but he did at least get a start away. 5 knots at the start, crapping out as they went upwind at snails pace. Those who headed towards the cloud on the left looked great until it crapped out there too. And with a 25 minute first mark time limit it became clear an abandonment was on the cards.

Will and Annabel Shepherd had eked out a decent lead and I think GBR had probably 4 of the top 6 positions but to no avail... and even if they'd got round mark 1 in time, they'd have never made it to mark 2 by anytime limit. Sometimes our sport is like that - some were happy, som were frustrated but no one could argue with the decision.

At this point the south easterly pirouetted to a north westerly and there might have been 4 knots but only for a nanosecond so in we came. AP over H followed by AP over N (look it up!) on the Club flagpole. Time for a beer.

Day 7

Gosh what a long day - this morning it already feels like it was yesterday. In fact it's been a long week and I've lost track of how long we've been here for or even which day of the week it is!

We woke to Melbourne shrouded in fog but signs of the sun trying to burn through and weather forecasts which supported that but seemed to predict anything between 5 knots and 15. Whatever the conditions you favour you could find a forecast to make you happy but not everyone was going to be correct. The sun did indeed burn through and it was beautiful by the time we started racing but the wind never really showed up despite lots of encouraging clouds bubbling up over the city to the North which lead me at least to think the sea breeze was on its way... it wasn't!

The excellent race officer had already made the call to start an hour early and not to use Christmas Eve - the reserve day so we knew the Aussie Nationals would be all wrapped up by the end of the day. Team GBR again turned up in force and did themselves proud wherever they finished on the race track. Will and Annabel had another standout day winning the first race by over a minute having led pretty much from start to finish. After a cracking final mini-beat to the finish where they took 3 or 4 boats they also came 3rd in the final race to secure first place overall.

Mish Collingridge and Rhona Enkel also started to show what we know they are capable of with a 3rd place followed by a 2nd in the final race. Robbie Stewart and Dylan McArdle also got a top 10 in the first race of the day (8th). These were hard fought results - the wind was ever so light; never more than 7 knots and often as little as 4 so real concentration was needed and sometimes a bit of luck... but we believe its true the more you practice the luckier you get so the team's excellent overall showing after a 7 race series is anything but a fluke. We finish the Aussie Nationals with 4 boats in the top 6 but also with a team doing itself credit across the board. There were many other encouraging performances from British boats further down the fleet with everyone fighting hard despite this effectively being our warm up regatta.

So then it was to the prize-giving... the record shows that Will and Annabel were very worthy winners of the event overall. Toby Bush and Kemmel Thorogood (3rd overall), Mish and Rhona (5th overall) and Ed Fletcher and Alex Enkel (6th overall) all deserve a "Top 10" mention as does the German boat (GER9992 - Hirthe and Swientek) who came 4th overall. The top Aussie boat Evie McDonald and Jack Jones were second overall and are the standout Australian National Champions having overall finished 5 places ahead of and with nearly half the points of their nearest Aussie rivals - congratulations to them.

The rest of the GBR team are all sailing well and the standard across the fleet is generally high so everyone knows they've acquitted themselves well to this point but have plenty of stuff they can still improve on. Everyone now gets a few days off to relax, recharge, look around a bit before we go again for the World Championships which start on 27th December. As I always say, all the boats start that regatta on equal points so its really all to play for for everyone.

A final word for our coach, Rhett Gowans, who Andy Bush and I found via a slightly drunken conversation with an airline pilot called Simon sitting on the terrace at Hayling Island SC last summer (that would be a story in itself if only either of us could remember it) - he'd never met the sailors until a week ago but he's become a first class honorary Pom and has really helped the team settle down and focus. We've been lucky to find him so a "Thank-you" to him for getting us this far - I've no doubt he will help us navigate next week successfully too.

Full results can be found at

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