Saturday, July 11, 2020
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How to win a National Championship

Sean2020I watched the results of the 2020 Australian Marblehead Championships appear on the ARYA Live Results page just after they happened. I saw how Sean Wallis won it. Then I started to hear bits and pieces of the background to it and thought it a great story.  So I contacted Sean and spoke to some people who were there and put this story together. I know that there are other sailors out there interested. This is about Sean’s win yes, but it’s also a great story about Radio Sailing.

At the start of this new year Sean Wallis had no plans of participating in the Marblehead National Championships 2020. After focusing on the IOM class for the 2019 IOM worlds his annual leave was in negative balance so he offered his Indie to Denton Roberts for the February Yarrawonga event.

That plan started to change around 12th January when from across the Tasman Sean heard a rumour that a hard to come-by Grunge could be coming on the market in the near future. He contacted the owner and the sale was through by 23rd January. Being only a month before the Nationals and the work annual leave balance had not magically

Lincoln McDowall (2nd), Sean Wallis (1st), Scott Fleming (3rd)

changed; competing at Yarrawonga was still out of the question. Plans were made to get the boat shipped to Perth.

A rough agreement was struck with fellow west-coaster Glenn Dawson, that if the boat arrived in time that he could cart it to the big lake on the Murray. Second thoughts appeared when a quote on the wrong side of $1000 arrived, to transport the boat over both the ditch and the Nullarbor. Alternative calculations were hurriedly made on the cost of him flying from Perth to Auckland, picking up the boat and both returning to Yarrawonga via Melbourne in time to compete.   After dusting off his negotiating skills and committing to higher annual targets with the powers-that-be at work, he booked travel and entered the National Championships.

The approach to Yarrawonga went something like this. Perth to Auckland six and a half hours, ten hours on the ground in NZ and then a four and a half hour flight to Melbourne followed by a just under three hours drive to Yarrawonga.

Nigel Clements was the owner of the Grunge that was about to head to Australia. He had a 2-hour each way trip to join Sean with the Grunge at the Auckland airport. Nigel had done a superb packing job and it was all ready for an immediate check-in and flight to Melbourne. So far so good, easy, but on arrival in Melbourne, the boat was missing!

Yes, the sailbox was there and intact but no one knew where the boat was. It took forty angsty minutes of searching and waiting for the Grunge to finally materialise. I’m guessing that the thought of a casual cruise across the Nullarbor with plenty of time to kill was looking pretty attractive by the time he drove into Yarrawonga with a few days to spare.

The 10 Raters were still competing and there was a Lay Day before the M's started, to get to know his new equipment. He had not sailed a Marblehead since the last Nationals at the Gold Coast. When the Lay Day arrived though, the wind was separating the local dogs from their chains so he decided to not risk damaging the new weapon.

Because the decision to compete had been made so late, he had no ‘regatta budget’. That and how expensive it is to compete at a IOM World Championship in Brazil. It’s also not cheap to go to a Nationals on the other side of the country via New Zealand after buying a new boat so cost had to be minimized. Queenslanders Greg Torpy and Trevor Fisher had a rental with a ‘free’ spare room, that was the good news. The bad news was that it was the ‘shed’!  It was stinking hot, then shortly after freezing cold, with midges, mosquitoes and worse, he had to become an honorary Queenslander. But he was allowed inside occasionally, the most appreciated times were the cooked breakfast that Trevor provided each day.

Day One arrived and the new boat was finally launched. The challenges just kept on coming in the form of another competitor smashing into the unsuspecting Grunge, cracking the back-end even before the warning signal. Tape can fix anything and it stayed on for the entire regatta.m fleet 1

Straight out of the box the boat loved the B-rig conditions that started the regatta and Sean quickly found himself the excited winner of the first two races. Expectations understandably lifted. It went so well that he thought the troubles were over and he had a great chance to place in the pointy-end of the event. Maybe an overall win was a bit much to ask but somewhere in the top five seemed very do-able with two bullets already tucked into the belt.

Then came Race 3. In the top five at the top mark the first time, second the next time around but while bearing away, the nose of the boat went down a bit and did not come back up. It was taking water so Sean pointed it at the bank as it continued to sink lower. Fellow competitor Steve Sedgemen was watching and didn’t think the boat was going to make it back so he jumped in and grabbed it as the winch was about to submerge. A quick inspection showed that the forward deck patch had lifted, so the fix required a new one of those, a new receiver and it was ready to go again.

The boat was fast but he still had to nail the starts, stay out of trouble and learn how to manage the swing rig. Weed was also a factor and it affected competitors throughout the event. On the second to last race of day two Sean had his share of weed for the first leg and a half before he could remove it. He managed to salvage second place anyway and then a win for the last race of the day.

So with one day to go the calculation went like this. Ten points from the lead, good boat speed and an unfamiliar swing rig to master, B-rig was sorted and quick though. He reasoned six races had to be sailed and he had to win four of them, just a bit of a challenge. And all that still depended on how his nearest competitiors went.  The sinking now looked very costly and he might have to settle for a top five after all.Mclass2020 1

Only four races were sailed on the last day, Sean’s scores were 1.0, 1.0, 4.0, 1.0, enough to win the Championship. An amazing feat all things considered.

Sean credits his win the to support of those around him. His Western Australian team mates for bringing the rest of his gear across the county and back, including the bed he slept on in the 'shed', the Queenslanders who hosted him and the general support and comradeship he received from the rest of the fleet.

I asked him what were the most memorable parts of his experiences, besides winning that is. He said he was particularly impressed with the Grunge design and how it performed for him ‘out-of-the-box’ with the preparation of Nigel Clements. But the main memory sticking in his mind was that of Steve Sedgemen jumping in the lake to save his boat. Sean said he was unable to thank Steve enough.

So the next time you feel hard done by at a regatta, wondering what albatross you must have mistakenly killed, whose dog you must have accidently kicked to deserve the bad luck and challenges placed in your way, remember this one. Sean definitely earned and deserves the Marblehead Australian Championship for 2020.

Article by: Ron Fawcett




Australian Marblehead Title Goes Down to the Wire

Mclass2020 1Feb 24, 2020

Four boats fought it out in the final race for outright victory to claim the Australian Marblehead Class championship at Yarrawonga, VIC.

At the end of three days of sailing it all came down the last race of the championship to determine the 2020 Australian Marblehead Class champion.

After starting the day the way he ended day two, Sean Wallis came out of the blocks fast and picked up wins in races 13 & 14 and moved from fourth overnight to the top of the leaderboard passing Kirwan Robb, Scott Fleming and Lincoln McDowall. 

The start of race 15 saw Wallis get another good start and he looked to be unstoppable until finding weed mid way up the first work and while making a quick dash to the shore the charge for the championship title seemed to be over as he rounded the windward mark last while the trio of Robb, Fleming and McDowall had all started strongly and led the fleet around the course. 

It was a left hand shift up the second windward leg that saw Wallis move through the fleet to re-join the leaders at the top mark the second time and as positions changed up the final leg to the finish it was Fleming that made the best of it finishing first ahead of Robb with McDowall third and Wallis fourth setting up a fantastic final race for the championship.

As the breeze slowly died it starting looking doubtful as to whether the sixteenth race would actually get started and after some waiting a slight breeze filled providing just enough for racing to resume. 

Racing was extremely close with Wallis reaching the first mark just ahead of the three but needed to ensure that Fleming was placed at least two places between him. The second work saw Scott Condie sneak through to lead ahead of Wallis with McDowall and Fleming fighting it out for third. It was at that point tragedy struck for Fleming who picked up some weed and slipped well back in the fleet and ended his title aspirations and with Robb also slipping back through the fleet the title challenge was left between Wallis and McDowall. In the mean time Wallis had claimed the lead back from Condie to lead the final windward mark rounding.

Mclass2020 2

Pictured: Ray Joyce (Master), David 'Yoda' Thomas (Grand Master), Lincoln McDowall (2nd), Sean Wallis (1st), Scott Fleming (3rd)

The final run and windward leg were challenging with little to no breeze and the fleet wallowing but eventually enough pressure came for the fleet to finish with Sean Wallis sailing his Grunge finishing his day with 1, 1, 4, 1 and the championship title on 41pts with Lincoln McDowall second overall (46pts) and Scott Fleming third (48pts).

From ARYA website

Results HERE


Newport Classic Starts the IOM New Year

NewportClassic2020Thirteen IOMs assembled for the Newport Classic last Saturday 15th February.  This was the first opportunity in 2020 for this class to see who came through the festive season and January break the best. It was also a bit of a range-finder for the first ranking event in Hervey Bay next month.  Entries are open here.

The event was extensively recorded by Ian Lobley and most of the event is now up on the QRYA Youtube Channel here.  The week before the area had a deluge of over 100mm of rain and the run-off produced some unidentified vegetable matter later on in the day as the tide receded.  But the water was in much better condition considering that the organisers thought they may have had to cancel the event a few days before due to debris.

L to R. in image above: Garry Russell, Doug Allen, Arron Farrar.

Single fleet racing with 13 starters is always exciting and there were plenty of calls for turns to be done, a general recall or two and an above average number of OCS's (On Course Side of the start line).  The northerly breeze for the first few races had the control area on the western bank of Jabiru Canal providing great visibility of the top and bottom of the course.  After lunch the breeze clocked East a bit making the southern bank the preferred location.  The course was changed a number of times, mixing it up to try to get the best out of the conditions.

Noteable in the results are two new names.  Michael Retchford from the home club and Marty Wallace from Springfield Lakes Club.  Michael was impressive steering his well presented V10 and Marty showed real potential, finding himself up at the pointy end of the fleet on more than one occassion.  

By 2:20 p.m. sixteen races had been completed and the Race Committee decided to have a few more anyway with racing ending at the 3:00 p.m. mark as defined in the NoR.  When the numbers were crunched Doug Allen (Wynnum Manly) took the trophy on 28 points, followed by previous event winner Arron Farrar (Gladstone) on 40.  First of the locals was Garry Russell taking third place on 57 points.

Thanks to PRO Peter Morris for managing the on-water part of the event, Peter Griffin for scoring at late notice, Garry Russell for putting it all together.  Thanks also to the the volunteers and the rest of from the Moreton Club committee and members for hosting.

Results linked here


DF95 Now ARYA Nationally Recognised Class

DF95Scene thumbAt the 2020 Australian Radio Yachting Association (ARYA) Annual General Meeting, the Dragon Flite 95 Class was accepted as a Nationally Recognised Class (NRC).  This was of course no surprise as plans were made almost a year ago to hold the National Championships for both the DF95 and DF65 next month in Western Australia.  The DF95 class now has over thirty entries in that event.  Pretty impressive for a first event and on the western side of the country.  See the National Championship site here.DF95

The criteria requires a class to have been accepted as a State Recognised Class in at least three member states, and that State Championships have been held in those states.  The 95 easily passed that criteria.  Other there other requirements include the existance of managed class rules.

The new status of the class means that it is now organised and managed in the same way as the existing national classes.  For serious competitors it allows them to sail the boat at all levels from the local club all the way to national and international level. 

For those who have been sailing the boat for a year or so in Queensland, this announcement does not change your experience at the club next week as only a minority of members want to go on to compete at National level, however the option is now there.  The new classification stitches the boat and its owners into the international competitive yachting community.

The next event in Queensland has entries open, you can enter here.  Although Queensland is one of the States that has already held a State Championship, this next event in March will be the first one for the class as an NRC.  The event at Emerald Lakes will be the first to be included into the official Ranking list, and the first in the three Queensland Grand Prix (GP) Series for which a Queensland GP Championship Title is awarded.

The suppliers are linked here.  Registration details are supplied when you buy the boat.  The Australian DF Radio Sailing Association (ADFRSA) manages the class registration and class rules.

So if you want to get into Radio Sailing or are just attracted to adding another boat to your quiver, get into this class. 


Robb Successfully Defends Australian Ten Rater Title

10RnatsPresentations2Feb 18, 2020

Victoria's Kirwan Robb has successfully defended his title of Australian Ten Rater Class champion by winning the 2020 championship at Yarrawonga, VIC.

Lack of wind saw only two races sailed on day two of the championship both of which were won by Scott Condie (NSW) which was enough to reduce the Robb (pictured left) lead to just two points going into the final day. With an earlier start to racing on the final day winds remained light around 2-5 knots from ENE. WA's Glenn Dawson got off to a good start in race 11 with Condie close behind and Robb a further few places behind and it looked as though the championship lead was due for another change. 

Dawson continually extended his lead while Condie  battled with weed he had to endure Pictured (L-R): Owen Jarvis (Master), David Thomas (Grand Master),

Scott Condie (2nd), Kirwan Robb (1st), Steve Sedgmen (3rd)

until midway up the next upwind leg where he could reach the shore.

Robb who had made a quick stop to remove weed on the downwind leg pounced on the opportunity to pass Condie and by the end of the race had recovered to 3rd with Condie two places behind (and a further two on the scoreboard).

Races 12 though 14 saw Robb put the nail in the coffin and an end to the Condie charge scoring 1,1,2 and with Condie scoring a 7th in race 15 the fat lady was singing.

The breeze shifted to a WNW direction it came in with a bit of punch and saw the fleet change down to B rigs (and some C's) and the final two races saw the strongest winds of the championship. Although Condie managed the conditions better than Robb finishing with a win in the final race, it was all a little too late and at the end of the day it was Kirwan Robb  who claimed back to back championship wins.10Rnatswinner

Racing throughout the championship was tight at the top with both Steve Sedgmen (NSW) and Andrew Reid (VIC) remaining in touch with the leaders until the final day with Sedgmen claiming 3rd overall ahead of Reid finishing 4th, Glenn Dawson (WA) 5th and Greg Torpy (QLD) 6th.

The Master's category was hotly contested with Owen Jarvis (NSW) winner while the Grand Master was awarded to David 'Yoda' Thomas.

10Rnatsmiddleton2At the ARYA AGM, ARYA President Andrew Reid was awarded the George Middleton Trophy in recognition of his commitment to radio sailing and the primary organisor of the 2020 Australian Championships for the International Ten Rater & International Marblehead classes.

Results Linked here





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