Thursday, 14 January 2010

Audi Victoria Week: Top crews come together for F18 Australian Championship

The new C2 hit the water in France. Image copyright Pierrick Contin.

by Di Pearson

The fast and exciting Formula 18 (F18) catamarans are coming to Corio Bay in Geelong, where the Royal Geelong Yacht Club will host the F18 Australian Championship for the first time at Audi Victoria Week from January 23-26.

Heading the line-up are the reigning Australian champions, Matt Homan and Luke McDonald from Humpybong Yacht Club in Queensland. “It’ll be really good sailing on Corio Bay – we’ve never done a title there before – it’ll be nice flat water,” Homan said today.

Asked who could upset his second consecutive title, Homan replied: “Steve Brewin and Greg Goodall are the majors – and a few of the Nacra guys as well.” Goodall finished second at last year’ Nationals, Brewin sixth.

“There’s a new design, a C2, that’s coming to Geelong, which is relatively untried, so that should be good,” Homan reports.

A development class, which means that manufacturers are always improving their designs and pushing the limits of technology, there are various F18 brands. Homan, Brewin and Goodall all sailed Capricorns at the 2009 Australian Championship, but that will not be the case this time around.

Goodall, from Victoria, designed the new ‘C2’ and he’s loaning one to Brewin from NSW. Brewin, who usually sails with his dad Richard as crew, will not only race a new C2, but will have a new crew Jack Benson aboard.

“Dad’s torn his shoulder really badly, so I won’t let him sail. He’s pretty unhappy about that,” says Brewin, who has good reason to be proud of his Dad, who won the 2009 F18 NSW Championship with his other son Chris.

“Dad’s 60 and he’s still a great crew. I don’t know anyone else even near his age that could do it,” Brewin says. Which is why the pair finished out of the placings at the last Nationals; Richard sailed with the tear, not knowing what was wrong.

Brewin, who agrees Goodall will be a major threat, says Homan is his other main rival, “and Brad Collett (a Queenslander who finished the 2009 Nationals third) if he makes it.”

On his own chances, Brewin, who’s won many titles in his career, admits he and Benson have had little time on the water. “We had a quick sail on Botany Bay in 28 knots the other day. From that, we’ve sorted out the communication problems. Jack’s a good sailor, and we should be OK, but it is a new pairing and a new boat.

“Jack and I just need to gel and we might be in with a chance,” said the sail maker who obviously designs his own sails. Launched at the Paris Boat Show last month, Audi Victoria Week is its first time the C2 will be seen publicly in Australia.

Brewin says the key to success at the Championship comes down to three things: “Confidence, getting good starts and having a first good beat. I’ve got plenty of confidence, so we’ll see…” he said.

He’s not sure how fast the C2 will be, but said: “I suspect it will be the fastest F18 when it sorted – I think it’ll be a ripper.”

“Everything’s coming together for the F18 Nationals at Audi Victoria Week, and I am really looking forward to the regatta,” says Brett Goodall who is crew for his father Greg.

A colourful catamaran that features a spinnaker and two trapezes, allowing both crews to hang out on the wire (see the photo), the boat is favoured by the likes of world champion Tornado Olympic medallists Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby, who have also won an F18 Worlds or two among their numerous other cat titles.

Such is the fast “thrills and spills” nature of the F18s; proponents of the class have the motto: “Life is too short to sail slow!”

Other names who will contest the 11 race series that will be sailed on windward/leeward courses include Robbie Lovig (Vic), Warren Guinea (Qld), Greg Wyers (NSW) and Brett Burvill (WA).

Audi Victoria Week

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