Lucky thirteen - International 5.5 Metre Australian Nationals. 1-3rd March RPAYC.
Following on from a very successful World Championships at RPAYC in January, thirteen was a lucky number for the 5.5 Metres at this years Australian Championships with the largest number of boats since the Australian Fives ‘glory days’. This year included 5 Moderns (post 1994), the highest number ever, 6 Evolutions (post 1970) and 2 Classics (pre 1970). The Australian teams were honoured to be joined by two teams who had travelled all the way from Germany for the event Wolf-Eberhard Richter in the Evolution Marotte and Max Mueller in his Modern Prettynama.
Day one was a tricky easterly on the ‘big pond’ on Pittwater. It was critical to keep the eyes out of the boat looking and staying in the pressure and the large shifts. Boat of the day was John Bacon in his 1993 Evolution KuRingGai. Bacon was ably supported by Cam Miles and David Samson. KuRingGai is the current Evolution World Champion and showed the rest of the fleet what consistency means with a 1, 1, 2 in the tricky conditions. Also showing consistency was another Evolution the 1993 Black Magic with the Andy and Jamie MacPhail with a 2,3, 6 to be second after day one. Chris Hancock’s beautifully restored 1978 Evolution Rhapsody also had a consistent day scoring 5,5,3. The Moderns all struggled with consistency. Colin Ryan, returning to the class after many years with Otto was Modern Boat of the Day scoring 10,2,3 leading Martin Cross in Beta Crucis scoring 11, 6, 1. It was also fantastic to have a famous family return to the class with Mark Tolhurst sailing in the Modern Clark Kent. Scotty O’Conner’s 1968 Kings Cross won the Boat of the Day battle of the Classics over Jason Antill in the 1968 Baragoola, which is the current Classic World Champion. Performance Handicap Boat of the Day was Hancock’s Evolution Rhapsody.
Day 2 was scheduled for an early start in order to make the best of the unusual hot North Westerly wind before it was forecast to die ahead of a 35kt ‘Southerly Buster’. Only two races were raced instead of the scheduled three before the wind died. Again the conditions were tricky and again hunting the pressure was critical. Both Black Magic (2,4) and Beta Cruicis (1,5) has reasonable days. KuRingGai scored a 9 in the first race and did very well to pick a big shift at the start of the second race and hold on in the dying conditions to finish 1st. After 5 races the drop came in and Bacon took a 6 point lead over Black Magic into the last day. Both Kings Cross and Baragoola were hard to seperate with Kings Cross taking a one point lead into the final day. Many of the crews were delighted to attend a fantastic BBQ at a house over looking Newport Beach hosted by the German Teams.
Day 3 had the remains of the ‘Southerly Buster’ and the crews were greeted with a relatively consistent 8-10 knot Southerly for the three races that were held before the time limit. At last a Modern managed to show their additional development and youth to be Boat of the Day. Beta Crucis had a strong day with 1,1,2. However, KuRingGai was again very consistent and an 8 point cushion over Beta Crucis and finishes of 3,2,3 was more than enough to take out the Australian Championships and the 1959 D’Arcy Shelley Memorial Trophy by 4 points. Bacon and crew also took out the Gold Cup for the first Evolution. The battle of the Classics and the Silver Cup was won by Baragoola largely as a result of a great seventh position in the last race. Third overall was the MacPhail brothers Black Magic and they rightly took out the Fred Craig Juno Head handicap trophy.
Most of the Moderns that came for the Worlds are about to return to Europe and the exciting news is that we will have four Australian teams competing in Modern 5.5 Metres on the European circuit: John Bacon, Bob Stoddard/Martin Cross, Mark Tolhurst and Colin and Mark Ryan. The future is bright the future is Fives!