After a very successful Australian A Class National Championship held earlier this month at Wangi, , another high quality fleet of A Cats assembled for the Mannering Park Catamaran Regatta on the southern extremity of Lake Macquarie on the Jan 28/29 weekend.
12 A Cat sailors competed. Whilst this number was considerably smaller than the 69 boats in attendance at Wangi, the fleet included six of the top ten National Championship placegetters ( Nathan Outteridge, James Spittall, Steve Brewin, Darren Bundock, Steve Brayshaw, Andrew Williams) ,all of whom were eager for another close and determinedly fought contest. These six sailor consistently fought for top postions during the regatta, with Grant Pellow and Mark Johnson often also joining the mix.
After weeks of heavy rain, the weather gods once again granted the lake a small reprieve from the inclement weather, with the final heavy rain shower completed 2 hours before the first start .
Six races were competed over the two days, with the three races on day 1 separated by a lunch break , whilst the final three races on day 2 completed in a prompt “back to back” fashion, in a style that certainly tested physical fitness and endurance.
The racing was held up for approximately one hour on the first day until a north east breeze of between 8 to 10 knots settled in for the first race, later increasing up to 12 knots for the remainnder of the day. The north east wind direction allowed optimal utilisation of the bay, permitting 1 nautical mile length legs, which the A Cats promptly devoured in ideal low drag flat wter, and moderate wind propulsion.
Upwind/downwind trapezing is now standard procedure for the top sailors, although some of we older sailers fell more content to sat it out of the back beam in a more conservative, safer, if slower style. Downwing trapezing is not without its down side, and impressive wipe outs have now also become a standard expections in A Cat regattas
.Day 2 once again dawned with little wind, but the north east breeze had returned by the time of the 10:00am start, and the three races were reeled off in quick succession. By the time of the final race, the breeze had built to around 16 knots, and the bows were now starting to bury when pushed hard downwind. Nathan Outteridge pitch poled his boat in spectacular style whilst he was approaching the finish to lose an almost certain 1st place in that race (See the amazing photo).
The overall honours for the regatta went to Darren Bundock , with Nathan Outteridge once again finishing 2nd, edging out Steve Brewin into third place.
Whilst the number of NSW A Cat cat sailors remain smaller than those of Victoria and Queensland, the quality of the fleet and sense of comradary is high, with the top sailors free in providing coaching tips to other fleet members.
The Mannering Park Amateur Sailing Club conducted thhe series in a competent and very friendly manner, and were all look forward to returning to this fine venue for the NSW State A Cat Titles in March.
Unfortunately James Spittall, Tom Slingsby, and Darren Bundock will not be able to compete, as they will shortly be resuming their overseas America’s Cup or Olympic commitments . The Bundock and Spittal boats will shortly be resuming their overseas container voyage, this time to San Fransico. Sadly the Slingsby DNA will not be making the voyage. Tom lent his boat out for the Mannering Park regatta, but unfortunately it crossed paths with a very solidly built Maricat during the regatta which severed off the port bow of the A Cat with almost surgical expertise.
We hope to see Nathan Outeridge compete in further Australian A Class events until his departure overseas in April for his 49ner Olympic campaign.
We wish Nathan and Tom every success for the London Olympics, and there will be many A Cat sailors following their progress, and in spirit sailing with them in their quest for Olympic gold.