Final Report Australian Championships

THE JOHN COOTES FURNITURE 2012 A CLASS CATAMARAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: Final Review
The Championships ended the same way that they started five days ago- under clear blue summer skies and with a moderate, building northeasterly sea breeze.
Championship had already been decided in Glenn Ashby’s favour at the end of the previous day. Glenn’s dominance of the event was such that he was able to sit out the final day’s racing.
Before the start of the ninth and final race, Steve Brewin held place second overall, holding a narrow lead from Nathan Outteridge. The final race would be the battle of the World Champions. Brewin is the 2011 A Class World Champ, whilst Outteridge is a dual 2011 World Champ having captured both the Moth and 49ners crowns
The dual Olympic silver medallist Darren Bundock inherited the 9th race lead soon after the first windward mark rounding, and thereafter was never challenged, winning by a clear margin. Andrew Landenberger had his best race of the series to finish 2nd,earning him 7th place overall.
The battle between Outteridge and Brewin was decided soon after the final windward mark rounding, when Brewin lost his footing whilst trapezing downwind. Precariously dangling from his trapeze wire out from rear windward corner of the boat, the laws of physics applied, and the boat was pulled over on top of him.
Nathan crossed the finish line in third place to secure 2nd overall, whilst Brewin’s recovery to a 14th position secured the overall 3rd spot
The arrival of Nathan Outteridge and Tom Slingsby in the class, together with the return of Ashby has lifted the standard of athleticism as well as the boat handling skills required to compete at the top level of the fleet. The top skippers push their boats extremely hard on the downwind legs, to the point that capsizing is now de rigour in the pursuit of ultimate speed downwind. Amazingly, these skippers have the strength and skill to quickly right their boats and lose just a few places. The benefit of trapezing downwind, outweighs the risk of the occasional capsize; at least for the immortals at the top of the fleet. Righting a capsized boat quickly is now an essential racing skill.
The varying conditions encountered during the regatta provided a test of sailing skills across the wind spectrum, and Glenn Ashby was the undeniable and worthy winner. Racing on Days 1 and 2 was held in moderate northeast sea breezes. Day 3 meant that the two races were sailed in light easterly wind, with a gusty moderate and latter freshening southerly on Day 4 testing the ability to constantly change gear and read the shifts.
Ashby, a seven time World A Class Champion described the fleet as the best and most competitive that he has encountered at any level of A Class competition.
Class President was similarly effusive at the presentation, labelling the event the best Nationals that he has attended over the past 30 years.
Wangi Amateur Sailing Club did a superb effort both on and off the water, and earned high praise from competitors and their supporting partners and families. The racetrack is one of the best in the world, and the grassy foreshore of the expansive boat park virtually unsurpassable.
The media interest in our event was huge, with the resulting publicity for the class immense. It is up to the NSW A Class Association build on the renewed interest in the class with backsides in trapeze harnesses.
The stand out boat design for the regatta was the Dutch designed and built DNA, which dominated the results, and with 23 representatives present, was the most numerically common boat.
The Kostecki and Ashby boats have already been unsold within Australian, whilst the de Ridder, Spit hill, and Slingsby DNA’s will soon be making their way to San Francisco Bay.
Boat design for this development class will not stand still. Glenn stated that he has learned many new skills from his involvement in the AC, and that there are some important new catamaran design innovations, which will trickle down to the A Class after their showcase in the next America’s Cup.
James Spithill, John Kostecki, Dirk de Ridder, and Darren Bundock will soon be resuming their responsibilities with the Oracle AC syndicate in San Francisco, and Glenn Ashby will be heading back across the Tasman to Team Zealand.
Nathan Outteridge has flown to Melbourne for the Australian Moth Championships, and will then focus on his 49ner sailing with a view to an Olympic Medal in London.
Tom Slingsby has multiple commitments. Number one goal is a Laser class Olympic medal in London, but along the way there is the Oracle AC 45 involvement, as well as a calling from John Bertrand to help win a second Etchells World Championship in February.
The rest of us will resume our day jobs.
Bob Griffits.

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