Sunday, 9 January 2011

Aussie A-Cat Nationals: Further Photos and Report

Dean Barker sheeting in at the start of Race 5. Image copyright Mia Hacker.

by Bob Griffiths

Glenn Ashby is the new Australian Champion for A Class Catamarans. He sealed his victory by winning Race 7 which proved to be the final race of the series, sailed on Lake Cootharaba.

Steven Brewin took out 2nd overall, Darren Bundock was 3rd, Andrew Landenberger was 4th, Dean Barker from New Zealand was 5th, and the veteran Scott Anderson was 6th.

Whilst the fleet enjoyed champagne sailing conditions for the first three days of the regatta, the final day's weather was more akin to a cheap botttle of red well past its use-by date. Alas, we have no control over the weather. The flooding rains that have caused widespread havoc and floods to many communities in south east Queensland over the past month returned overnight and persisted throughout the day. Three races had been planned for the final day in a bid to complete a 9 race programme, but this was not to be.

The only race of the day started without problems in an easterly breeze, which varied between 10 to 12 knots, and stayed reasonably consistent for the duration of the race. Glenn Ashby led around the first winward mark and was never headed thereafter. Dean Barker was second around, closely pursued by Steve Brewin, then Andrew Landenberger and Darren Bundock.

Steve Brewin moved into 2nd place down the downwind leg, a position which he never relinquished. Darren Bundock later sailed through Barker and Landenberger to finish 3rd, whilst the other two finished 4th and 5th, respectively.

Darren Bundock. Image copyright Mia Hacker.

Several attempts were made to race 8, but by now the fleet was subjected to repeated rain squalls which produced wind gusts associated with large shifts in direction. The fleet did manage to start, but the race was stopped after approximately 3 minutes, when a massive windshift occurred.

Attempts at a restart over the next 40 minutes proved unsuccessful, with a succession of rain squalls with attendant wind speed and direction instability.

The day's racing was abandoned after a 30 knot wind system began to dominate the racing area.

Glenn Ashby's win confirmed his dominance of the Australian fleet, and followed up his World A Class Champioship win in July 2010. Steve Brewin seems to have 2nd place reserved for his name, the position which he has also finished in the past two world championships.

Team New Zealand's Dean Barker has adapted well to sailing these small high performance catamarans, finishing 5th overall, and often exhibiting the best upwind speed of any of the competititors.

Scott Anderson's performance was also noteworthy. He sailed an older boat, without the benefit of the downwind speed advantage of the boats fitted with curved centreboards. The DNA designed boats featuring vertical lift producing curved centreboards that were used by the top 5 competitors represent a design breakthrough for downwind sailing. It is now possible to consistently and safely trapeze the boats on apparent downwind sailing, significantly improving the speed, and enhancing the sailing spectacle.

Final top ten positions
1. Glenn Ashby 6.0 (DNA)
2. Steven Brewin 16.0 (DNA)
3. Darren Bundock 20.0 (DNA)
4. Andrew Landenberger 21.0 (DNA)
5. Dean Barker 22.0 (DNA, New Zealand)
6. Scott Anderson 39.0 (Geltek, straight boards)
7. Will Howden 39.0 (DNA, England)
8. Brad Collett 41.0 (Sheurer design, curved boards)
9. Graham Parker 64.0 (Geltek)
10. Wayne Mercer 76.0 (DNA)

Australian A-Cat Nationals 2011