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Victorian Contender State Titles 2024 at Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron

by James Ellis 29 Apr 13:30 BST 20-21 April 2024
Joey Randall (2575) - Victorian Contender State Titles 2024 © Mark Young

When Mark Bulka suggested I come to the Vic states a few days early to do some training I was in! I was going anyway but when you drive for 11 hours to sail in a two day regatta it really makes it worthwhile to get a few bonus days in.

After a sleepover in Albury I arrived on Thursday afternoon to Melbourne's first cold snap of the year (I think?). It was overcast and cold but the wind was up. I said to Mark "if I hadn't driven from Gosford there is no way you'd be sailing today".

Within 5 minutes of my arrival I was welcomed warmly by sailing manager Michelle. First impressions count and her friendly welcome and casual orientation boosted my enthusiasm. Blairgowrie is a modern club with a lovely green lawn to rig on and a sandy beach. The showers are spacious and warm and the locals are friendly.

We rigged and hit the water to find a perfect 15-18knots from the SW and had a great training run. There was a nice chop, clear water and a slightly disarming view of the sandy bottom. Mark was quick of course but kindly kept close enough to allow for some two boat work. At one stage I was matching him but found out later he was carrying a clump of weed. After sailing up and down a few times I was quite disoriented but was happy to learn that we had the perfect angle for a long, on the wire, reach back to the club.

When we hit the beach we agreed it was perfect contender weather. In the carpark the hospitality continued as, the always smiling, John Lindholm turned up offering refreshments from the comfort of his Landcruiser.

Friday wasn't as windy but we had more company. The tide runs hard at Blairgowrie so I was picking Mark's brain on that. The channel runs parallel to the shore but the course is mostly over the sandbar on the other side of the channel. It's most significant on the outgoing tide, especially if the top mark is in the channel. It seems that you have to avoid the channel for as long as possible so as not to get swept away from the mark.

This definitely came into play on day one. We had a gentle southerly, an outgoing tide and the company of the Musto Skiffs and the Finn sailors who also sailed their state champs. I tried to go to school on the Musto skiffs when they started before us. The tide was running across the course from pin to boat and the boat end was favoured so we were squeezed up to the boat like sardines. I managed to pop out early on the second start and was relieved to hear the general recall sound signals but my relief was short lived having failed to notice the black flag. So, I spent the first race sailing around observing and trying not to be a nuisance. Mark nailed the start with speed and started the regatta with a bullet. Joey Randall and Lachie Imeneo pushed him hard and the local Blairgowrie team of Scott Watson, Alister Danks and Ned Lindholm were close behind them showing off their local knowledge which proved to be a sign of how the regatta would progress.

The tidal influence remained for race 2 so the strategy was to hit the left and let the tide push us toward the mark. It seemed to be stronger as we approached the mark which made lay line judgement really interesting. Mark lead again but fell foul of a little righty up the second work which Grant Robinson grabbed with both hands and went on to win. Joey slid into 2nd again ahead of Mark and Alister.

By the time we started race 3 the tide was slack so it was very much about being in phase with the shifts. By the end of day 1 Mark and Joey were within a point for the lead with Lachie, Grant, Scott and Alister close behind.

Day two remained light and knee bendy. In my pre start warm up I broke my trap line at the mast but was able to effect a quick repair with the assistance of a very competent group of local junior girl sailors who came alongside with their RIB and had me back sailing quickly (if you're reading this, thank you!). Race 4 was lumpy despite the incoming tide. We were on the wire at the start but it slowly died throughout the race. The Blairgowrie race committee managed the tricky conditions well and finished us early with Lachie Imeneo getting a win to put him in striking distance of Joey (3rd) and Mark (2nd).

With the pressure on in race 5, I nailed the start at the pin but, worried that I was over, decided to go back. This proved to be a poor decision for two reasons! Firstly, we were under U flag at the start and secondly, as it turned out, I wasn't over (doh!). Mark confided later that he also thought he was over but, sensibly, kept going and had yet another win to seal the regatta. Grant and Joey slid into 2nd and 3rd which was enough for Joey to take 2nd overall with Grant 3rd. Lachie ended up 4th overall with locals Scott and Alister split by Andre Webster who had made the trip down from Canberra.

Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron excelled themselves. The on water race management was exceptional in tricky conditions and they managed all three fleets on the one course smoothly and with good humour. The off water hospitality was friendly and relaxed and the boat park provided lots of banter and the usual collective and confusing analysis as we all express our latest theories.

Two years into my contender experience I feel welcome and relaxed wherever we sail. The learning curve in these boats is addictive and so is the culture. Thanks Blairgowrie YS for a great weekend. I'll be looking for excuses to come back.

Overall Results:

PosHelmBoat NameSail noStateClubR1R2R3R4R5Pts
1Mark BulkaBalance2457VICMcCrae YC1‑31215
2Joseph RandallKnotasha2575VICMcCrae YC222‑339
3Grant RobinsonG2502VICSandringham YC‑12134210
4Lachlan ImeneoFrancesco2571VICMcCrae YC3‑941816
5Scott WatsonPolymeric2360VICMcCrae YC4‑1555519
6Andre WebsterCest si Bon2578ACTCanberra YC7686‑1027
7Alister DanksHells Bells2548VICBlairgowrie YS646‑231228
8Lindsay IrwinTrattore Arrabbiato2486VICBlack Rock YC/Sandringham YC1177‑12934
9Jeff OwenNo Diggity2560VICMcCrae YC1089‑13734
10John LindholmHector2565VICBlairgowrie YS8‑221318443
11Ned LindholmFlipper2648VICBlairgowrie YS5‑2516.571644.5
12Michael VandenbergNow or Never2678VICSomers Y C919118‑2647
13Andrew ButlerWhigmaleerie2562VICRoyal Geelong YC13524‑27648
14Harrison EdeDay For It2375VICSomers YC‑331012141551
15Paul WilsonJan2665VICBlairgowrie YS‑331315101452
16James EllisPothole2323NSWGosford SC‑331110112153
17Callum BurnsPrego Prego2468VICBlairgowrie YS1517‑2891859
18Dalton HarvieBata Ban1326VICLysterfield YC161219‑222067
19Steve YoungAllegro2664VICBlairgowrie YS‑231422191368
20Sian HardingNot Sure2668VICBlairgowrie YS14‑2716.5152570.5
21Luke MairsSofia Cucci2349QLDWhitsunday SC1716‑29211771
22Tim DorningContessa2142VICBlairgowrie YS221827‑281178
23RLC Robert Leslie CaseThe Gnat2600VICBlairgowrie YS19211820‑2878
24Dean TaylorAzzurro2651VICBlairgowrie YS‑242321171980
25Andrew SuttonShhh2642ACTCanberra YC202020‑252383
26Guy HardyA Close Shave2424SABrighton & Seacliff YC33‑2614162285
27Adrian MulcahyRIP IT UP2616VICBlairgowrie YS18‑3023292797
28Michael StewardsonRedBom2174VICBlairgowrie YS‑3328262624104
29John McleanUnder Dog243NSWDarling Point SS252425‑3333107
30Nick Wood‑FreemanMid Gybe Crisis271VICSomers YC2629‑302429108
31Patrick BarrettHyperku2408VICBlairgowrie YS21‑33333333120
32Simon SpaldingDio Spacca Piata2652VICWesternport YC‑3333333333132

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