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Sabre Sailing Dinghy

Australia's most popular one design single handed class. The fun Single hander that is easy to sail but difficult to master.

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The 28th and we were all getting ready for the big week ahead. Boats arrived after a rough trip across Bass Straight. Team Chic went for a run in the morning and then went to the Taste of Tasmania in the afternoon. Was this to add some weight for the windy conditions? Michael Johnson launched his new boat and it floated. There were three new boats at the nationals the other 2 only launched a couple of weeks previously. All were blue with varnished transoms (must be the 2000 colour). Meanwhile others went and bought more wet weather gear – it is cold out there. All seemed ready for the days to come.

The time had arrived and we were all down to the club early giving our boats the final checkout. Team Chick attended the opening ceremony in their t-shirts and then we went out for the invitation race. The wind varied from 1 to 25 knots from the North, South, East and West. If you did not like any particular condition just wait a minute and it would change. Richard Jackson won the race from John Atkins after the leaders; Murray Smith and Rob Priest could not find the windward mark after a change in course. 

December 30th and the time to get serious has arrived. The first heat was in the afternoon and all the competitors were nervous. The weather was good, a nice 18 – 20 knots and a steady breeze for all. The fleet quickly split up with those who liked the heavier air out front. It was a long race with top places swapping even on the last work. The final places were Murray Smith from Phillip Johnson who passed his son Michael on the last leg. As for the two borrowed boats Mumbo Jumbo broke a shroud on the last leg while Richard Jackson managed to break half the wires in a shroud.

New Years Eve and all were ready for two heats. Murray Smith and Maree Early were both given the yellow leaders singlets as overall and ladies points score leaders. We were held at the club until a light breeze set in and out we went for heat 2. This saw a 5-knot breeze slowly strengthen to 10 knots a new group of leaders. Michael Johnson managed to hole his boat and then a shroud came undone to loose his mast overboard. Four members of Team Chic were in the top 10 lead by a runaway win by Jo Butler from Richard Jackson with Rob Priest third. Jo had found a new way of making a boat fast – put a For Sale sign on it.

After a quick lunch we were back on the course for heat 3 with the wind starting at 0 knots and building throughout the race to a 15 to 20 knot last work. A close race was held and Michael Johnson came home first, as Richard Jackson’s toe strap broke just before the finish line pushing him back to second with Murray Smith third. We now go into the lay day and New Years Eve celebrations with three winners from three heats and Murray Smith leading from Rob Priest and Richard Jackson, but the points score that close that no one could be confident. Both Murray and Maree hold onto their yellow singlets. Unfortunately Murray’s boat was damaged while getting it out of the water and it was in true Sabre spirit that it was heading for Rob Priests home to be repaired.

Having recovered from New Year’s Eve we all meet back at the Yacht Club on the second to resume hostilities. Murray’s boat had been repaired and we all hit the water for a heat in a wind that started at 5 – 10 knots and built up to 15 knots. Murray Smith was first over the line followed by Michael Johnson who had lead for most of the race with Richard Jackson third. In the overalls it is Murray Smith still leading but with a pack not far behind.

We now turned up for what we knew would be crunch day with two heats to be held. The day started in a 10 knot northerly and as we ran down in a southerly towards the first mark the race was abandoned. The wind then kicked in at about 30 knots and a few of us including both of us in borrowed boats decided not to break the boats. This in reflection may have cost Richard Jackson the title but to his credit he was more worried about the borrowed boat than the title. The wind settled down and the heat started to be won by Rob Priest from Michael Johnson with Murray Smith third.

The second last heat followed in the afternoon with a breeze that was generally in the 5 – 10 knot band. Richard Jackson won this race from Michael Johnson with Rob Priest third. We now go into the final day with any of the top 4 capable of winning. The Junior trophy still up for grabs with the Women’s decided by consistent sailing and being taken by past champion Maree Early.

The final race was one that befitted the series. It was sailed in great spirit. After one general recall the fleet was off. If the race was shortened at the first mark Murray would have had the title, shortly after that Richard took the lead, which he held to the end of the race. With Murray and Michael both back Richard had the lead. As the race went on Murray climbed through the fleet with Michael close behind. The Final Placings were Richard from Phillip Johnson with Rob Priest in third. Michael’s fifth place good enough to give him the title by 0.75 point form Murray with Richard 1 point back and a further 1.25 points back Rob Priest.

The series was conducted in great spirit and just a few examples deserve to be commented on. First was the effect Team Chic (pictured above) had on the series. The older girls worked well as friends and set the standard while the younger members fitted in well and were made welcome. However I must ask why one member is in there and what the girls know and have not told us.

However there must be some comments made on the less than satisfactory behavior of a few sailors. I was most upset when approaching the first mark in the first heat to find my daughter (sailing my boat) says to Lindsay “Hell, Dad’s up here”. But then Lindsay is not totally innocent, going down the last reach he asked me if anyone would mind if he caught up to his youngest daughter Elyse and give her some coaching. Of course he never even got close as she sailed away showing the improvement she had made over the series.

There seems to have been a special on blue paint this year with 3 new boats at the nationals being painted blue. I also believe Russell Bates new boat is blue but then being a Bates boat – who is surprised. They must have bought gallons of blue paint. But the nicest looking boat was On the Edge, a new composite boat sailed by Samantha Moffatt. 

It was good to see a good number of juniors although looking at one member of Team Chic in particular I think we need a minimum weight to sail a Sabre. Talking to Russell Bates the other day we agreed that a minimum of 100kg would be suitable. We also considered a minimum wind strength of 20 or 25 knots. 

We all were made most welcome by a friendly club and both the club and the Tasmanian Association and in particular Keith Bolton should be congratulated for a well organized and well run titles. Right through the fleet down to the juniors the comradeship was great. In fact their junior sailor was most friendly to a number of our young ladies and claims were made about one in particular.

Just in conclusion a few questions are still in my mind and I would not mind answers. First how close did Jo get to destroying the one feature of Michael’s boat in which he is so proud? Where was Phil off to in the little black dress that was in his sailing bag? Why did the Trolley Dolley’s that Team Chic brought along seem to stop work when the girls got in? Who was the sailor who was locked out New Years Eve from his accommodation.

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