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Photos by Chris Furey

The Victorian Championships were held at Sandringham YC for the first time and this gave plenty of opportunities for sailors to explore the facilities of Victoria’s largest club, its near new clubhouse and its spacious grounds and boat park.

64 sailors entered the series – not a bad result after having had almost 100 Victorians take part in a week of nationals just 6 weeks earlier. Entrants were treated with steady 20knot breezes right through the weekend, with the Saturday adding quite sizable wave conditions as well. With a bit more east in the wind on the Sunday, the waves became better formed and provided delightful reaching conditions. Sabre sailing at its glorious best !

The organisers retained the recent formula of conducting the series over a single weekend which saw 3 races on Saturday and 2 on Sunday. Doubtless this saw many a tired sailor by Sunday night.

The top end of the fleet saw competition at a virtual ‘nationals’ level with participation by top Adelaide sailors Mark Soulsby and Craig McPhee together with last year’s winner Gary McLennan, (who missed the nationals) and highly competitive Tim Van der Veen and boat builder Jim Scott. Current national champion Chris Dance and Jim Scott were both sailing new boats from the new Formula Sailcraft mould and we suddenly had a ‘boat-builders derby’ on our hand. For good measure, Brett Young of YMS was around over the weekend so this added further flavour to the contest; reminiscent of the ‘Holden vs Ford' battles at Bathurst, Brett Young had flyers out after the final race congratulating the winners and noting that YMS boats finished in the top 6 places, Jim had promptly responded on his website noting the impressive debut of his boats !

Now to the racing. Overall winner was 5 times national champion Wayne Bates from Blairgowrie in his new boat ‘Outawood’ with 3 First places, a 2nd and a 3rd. Second place was new comer to the class Tim Van der Veen  (sailing the current national champion boat) and 3rd was Craig McPhee from Adelaide. 4th was Nick Mouat from Black Rock and 5th Jonathan Harding from Blairgowrie. Sandringham junior Jack Felsenthal won the youth division (and an impressive 13th place outright), and Fiona Martin won the women's division. 

A great job was done by Race Officer Stephen Aulich and his team with the race management. Good calls on race scheduling and course lengths were matched with appropriate use of the black flag and recalls for a couple of starts. One abandoned race – 15 seconds into the race  - was a tricky but correct call by the team as internal checks with the pin end boat reached the conclusion that OCS boats had not been fully identified ( together with a late wind shift). Competitors also got up close and personal with some of the large Sandringham keel boat fleet as the courses overlapped at one point. Trailer-sailors they aren’t. First time sailors at Sandringham also discovered the hard way not to jump out of the boat too far from the beach – the infamous ‘black death’ catches out the unwary every time.

So – championship season is over for another year. Long will we remember the summer of 2011/12 with the record numbers of Blairgowrie and the great facilities and racing at Sandringham.

By Andrew Graham

Vic Sabre 2012 Photo Gallery

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