The 45th Sabre Nationals were held at McCrae Yacht Club 28 December to 3 January 2024, attracting a fleet of 67 boats coming from all Australian states. The winds ranged from 20 plus knots through to one day when racing was abandoned due to light, variable wind direction conditions and an impending electrical storm. Under the direction of PRO Alistair Watson, seven races were successfully completed, allowing one drop from the planned 10 race series.
Starts were strongly contested resulting in the U flag then black flag regularly seen. The three-minute starting sequence enabled starts to be pushed along between general recalls. Mainly due to wind variability or broken gear, many boats carried one or more high scores which they would have preferred to have dropped. The exception was the overall winner, youth Gus McIntyre of Blairgowrie YS, who clearly shone out on 11 points with a string of first and seconds and a drop of fourth. At the regatta conclusion, Gus was heading to Adelaide to sail in the Laser Nationals.
Second place went to Olympian and World Champion sailor, Krystal Weir of McCrae YC on 18 points followed by Hamish Cowell and ‘Grand Master’ Alister Danks, both from Blairgowrie and both on 28 points. Then followed last year’s runner up, Western Australian Tony Carr. Overall results can be found here and a list of prize winners can be seen here.
Racing was good natured but intense with almost all indiscretions resulting in competitors taking the reduced 360 degrees penalty rather than taking it to the protest room. The black flag, wind variation and the one big wind day did spread scores through the fleet. There was also a wide variety of sailor experience with many taking part in large starts for the first time. Daunting but educational.
As usual, the fleet exhibited a broad range of ages, from 14 to over 70 years, 20 percent were females and good sailing capability was evident in the spread of results coming from each state. The feeling of friendly competition was evident as sailors were ready to share ideas and lend to those who experienced gear failures. There was evident support from east coast sailors to travel to Perth for the 2024/5 Nationals and also to attend State Championship regattas, with the Victorian event coming up at Black Rock YC on 24,25 February 2024.
As usual, after the prize giving, sailors, officials and volunteers took advantage of a great meal and a bar tab to re sail the races and enjoy the company. A highlight of the evening was McCrae Sabre sailor Dee Mason who auctioned two rudder blades, a Sabre boat cover and Sabre sail, all provided by our generous sponsors. Dee’s great humour and expertise resulted in spirited bidding and a great fund raiser for the Vic Sabre Association.
Thanks to our sponsors and the volunteers from McCrae YC for making us welcome and putting on a very enjoyable event for the 67 competitors from around Australia.
Sabre Sailing Assoc Victoria
On water photos – Russell Bates Photography