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International Dragon Class Prince Philip Cup at Metung Yacht Club - Day 3

by Jeanette Severs 27 Jan 15:48 GMT 23-28 January 2024
The fleet sails with spinnakers flying to the finish line © Jeanette Severs

After a lay over day followed by a cancelled race day, sailors were keen to get on the water on day three of the International Dragon class Prince Philip Cup/Australasian Championship 2024, hosted by Metung Yacht Club.

Tasmanian sailor, current Victorian Champion in the class, and multiple winner of the Prince Philip Cup, Nick Rogers and his team of Leigh Behrens and Lucas Upton, sailing Karabos IX, established an early series lead at the end of day one.

Rogers finished second and first respectively in races one and two on day one, 24 January 2024.

The Prince Philip Cup, also known as the Australasian Championship for the International Dragon class, was contested by 17 yachts on the waters of Lake King at Metung, in rural Victoria, Australia.

It was truly a multi-State and international affair - with yachts and crews from Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, United Kingdom and Denmark, as well as the home State of Victoria.

Day two racing was cancelled with the AP flag flying, because of wind consistently above 30 knots and big seas with no backs on the waves.

Day three dawned with a forecast of variable wind. After completion of only two races so far, the series needed a total of five races completed.

Race Officer (RO), John Spencer, said he aimed to run an extra race on day three, Saturday, January 27. The Prince Philip Cup needed five races to be completed across the regatta to make a series.

As it was, three races were completed on the third day, over a gruelling nine-hour period on the water.

Race three, the course was set at 1.0 nautical mile (NM), wind 260 degrees (d) at seven knots, and a low swell. It was a text book east-west course race on Lake King.

Western Australian yacht, Gordon, was first around the windward gate on the first leg. Gordon was trailered from Western Australia across the Nullabor for this regatta by crew Adam Brenz-Verca and Ethan Prieto-Low. On the helm was owner, Richard Lynn.

Gordon was followed closely by Tasmanian yacht, Riga, helmed by Hugh Wardrop and crew of Timothy Vincent and Max Gluskie.

Local yacht, Wicked II, with Fred Haes (helm), Adrian France and Will Crooke on board, went around the windward gate hot on their sterns.

They were followed, in order, by another local boat, Imagination, Karabos IX, then NSW yacht Trio, runner up in the 2023 PPC.

It only took three minutes for the fleet of 17 yachts to traverse the windward gate. There was a slight wind shift to 270d and wind speed lifted to 11 knots during the second leg. Around the windward gate the second time, Karabos IX had moved up the fleet to be the leading boat, and well ahead.

She was followed by Imagination, helmed by Damien Daniel and crewed by Dean Robson and Dean Smith. Approaching the windward gate, Imagination was giving dirty air to Gordon.

Riga also overwhelmed Gordon, passing them to be third around the windward gate. But Gordon reversed the order on the windward-leeward leg.

The remainder of the fleet was strung out across the course, and rounded the windward gate in an orderly manner.

First across the finish line was Karabos IX, followed by Imagination, then Gordon. Riga and Wicked II finished in fourth and fifth position respectively, ahead of NSW wooden Dragon, Trio, with Matty Whitnall at her helm and crewed by owner Michael Bartley and Peter Bovis.

Race four required a course reset to 290d, wind speed five knots, and the course length was reduced to 0.9NM.

The AP flag was raised and the RO started chasing wind over the next few hours, as it switched between 210d to 250d and varied up to 13 knots. Waves varied from short and choppy to a light swell.

A course reset saw the fleet and official boats moved from the first race course which traversed Tambo Bay towards McMillan Strait. All boats moved out into Lake King closer to Raymond Island.

Course length was set at 0.9NM, 240d and a wind speed of eight knots. The race was abandoned and the entire fleet called back, as the wind shifted. The course was reset again, well into Lake King, Luderick Point towards the lee of Raymond Island at a bearing of 210d. A wind speed of 12 knots produced rolling waves with white caps.

Sea Joy withdrew from further races on day three. More than hour after race four was abandoned, a restart occurred, followed by a general recall as the wind shifted again - to 195d, gusting to 16 knots.

The course length was reset to 1.0NM, and by this time the waves were rolling and wind was 13 knots gusting to 16.

A restart of race four under a U flag saw 14 yachts racing, after Wicked II and Trio were disqualified.

Gordon was first around the windward gate, followed by Riga, Karabos IX, then Fascination, a local boat hired by international crew David Tabb (Britain) on the helm, Laerke Norgaard (Denmark) and Jeremy Nolan (Australia).

Next around the windward gate was Western Australian yacht, Pennyfarthing, helmed by Stephen Locke, and crew of Mark Cubitt (owner), Bradley Stout and Wendy Campbell. Cubitt, Stout and Campbell trailered Pennyfarthing across the Nullabor to Metung to compete.

The race leader remained the same, with Gordon first around the windward gate the second time and well ahead of the fleet to cross the finish line alone.

Approaching the windward gate the second time, Karabos IX had moved up to second place, with Pennyfarthing also making her way up the fleet.

The final placings across the finish line were Gordon, Karabos IX, Pennyfarthing, Fascination and Riga, in that order, followed by the remainder of the fleet.

Race five was delayed with multiple course resets as wind readings varied from 16 knots, to 12 to 10, and shifted from 150d to 130d.

A new course was set at 145d, at a length of 0.9NM. Fifteen yachts started the race, after the retirement of Adios III.

After a fast start, Wicked II was first around the windward gate, ahead of Gordon, then Trio. By the time the fleet were around the leeward gate the first time, the wind began dropping off and the waves flattened.

Gordon was first around the windward gate on the second traverse, with Wicked II following, then Trio and Pennyfarthing in that order. Gordon crossed the finish line first, followed by Wicked II then Trio.

With three races completed on day three, for a total of five, the Prince Philip Cup had a series, and competitors had the option of dropping their worst score.

The series board had Karabos IX at the top on six points, narrowly ahead of Gordon on seven points. Wicked II was in third place on 18pts, followed by Riga on 19pts. Two yachts were on 20pts - Imagination and Trio. It looked like being a very exciting day if races got under way on day four.

RO Spencer said an uncertain wind in the middle of the day delayed the races.

"We had to shift the course to find the wind; when the wind did come up it was very strong," he said.

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