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2003 Titles Report

Exactly 100 boats entered this series making it the equal largest Sabre Australian Championships ever. What was equally pleasing was that all these were genuine entries and none were put in just to make up the numbers. 17 juniors and 22 females were included in this number. Wayne Bates (Vic) must be congratulated on again being both the Australian Sabre Champion and also the Australian Sabre Senior Champion. Maree Early (Vic) is the Australian Ladies Champion, Andrew Fist (Tas) the Australian Junior Champion, Alan Riley (Vic) the Australian Masters Champion, Barry Eastgate the Australian Grand Masters Champion and David Wood the Australian Veterans Champion. The racing (with the exception of Wayne) was very close in what was a predominately light series. A full report on this and all results will be found later in this newsletter. 

Invitation race.

We started with a General Recall, which for a number of boats was a blessing as they missed the first start due to leaving the beach too late. From our boat it looked like all the usual culprits were in the front pack with Rob Hartnett in the lead following an excellent start. 

On the second start Rob was pushed down past the pin end mark and was buried by the wall of boats. Maree Early led from early on and was a clear leader from Barry Eastgate and Russell Bates (yes there was a bit of wind). The lead did not change and after a lap and a beat the three leaders turned for the beach not wanting to win the Invitation race and suffer the hoodoo (although one tried to convince us afterwards that he withdrew because he was in shock being ahead of his brother – some families seem to be able to create some wild stories). In the end Wayne Bates won from Rob Hartnett with Sean Hackett third. Has Wayne suffered the hoodoo of winning the series? Is this the end of the Bates domination? 

After sailing we attended the opening BBQ and the first Sabre Calcutta was held. I will not mention who did not sell well but the favorites seemed to be Maree Early and Wayne Bates. Or was this a case of the family support and the friends bidding against each other. 

Sunday 28th December - Heat 1

Well the day has arrived and the serious stuff starts. In the morning we registered our last boats and managed to come up to 100 boats – the biggest ever. After a short briefing the boats headed out to sea for what was scheduled to be 2 races. When the start was almost underway the wind died causing a postponement for an hour. Then the race was started and started and started. It seemed like a dozen general recalls (but I am sure it was less) – even the black flag did not control the fleet. 

Well finally they got away and a huge shift on the first work put those on the left side of in a very favourable position. John Seeber led for the first lap from Shane Navin. The committee decided to shorten the race after the second beat having taken 2 ½ hours to get the race away. Shane won the race (His first ever at a National Championships) followed by John Seeber with Daniel Keil third. 

Monday 29th December - Heats 2 and 3

Well the day for serious sailing had arrived and 3 races were scheduled for the day. The fleet was given a strong briefing by a couple of the sailors about black flags. The fleet went out and the first race for the day was started with only one general recall. Rob Hartnett won the race from Wayne Bates and David Wood. In the second race for the morning Wayne Bates won from David Wood and John Dick. 

The fleet came in for lunch and then went out for the one afternoon race. Fiona McCulloch won this from Wayne Bates who was the leader for most of the race and Phillip Johnson third. After packing up we proceeded to the Prawns, Pizza and Pasta Night where all had a good night. 

Tuesday 30th December 

A nice late start and when we made it to the club – little wind. Soon the fleet was under postponement and it was decided to hold the AGM. Part the way through we were informed that the club had decided to race, so everyone hurried off to rig and get changed. Just as the fleet was about to leave the beach another announcement – a large front was due and racing was cancelled for the day. Back to the AGM and then home. 

Wednesday 31st December - Heats 5 and 6

We arrived early for what we thought would be three races. The wind was light but sailable and the fleet headed out. The committee decided to go for a long course race and it was started with Wayne Bates pulling in front of a pack containing most of the usual culprits. In a fading wind and tide running it was decided to finish the race after the sausage. Wayne made it and the clock started to tick. 

Unfortunately no more boats made the finish within the time limit (30 mins) as a big hole developed before the finish line. Back to the beach on tow ropes and a lunch as the fleet waited for the sea breeze to fill in. 

It did and the fleet was sent out and the race committee decided to again go for the one long race instead of, as everyone was expecting, 2 short races. The breeze was up and Wayne pulled away again to win from Rob Hartnett with Alan Riley third and Barry Eastgate 4th. 

Friday 2nd January - Heat 7

Well the last day had arrived and we turned up hoping to get 3 races in but realistically only expecting 2 races, which would enable everyone to get a second drop. The fleet went out and were underway. In a light and fading breeze Wayne Bates won by a couple of boat lengths from Barry Eastgate with Fiona McCulloch third. Dean Francis, veteran from SA had his best result finishing 4th. Unfortunately a large number of boats failed to finish within the time limit due to the lack of wind and no further racing could be held. The wind did eventually start to fill in on the racecourse but too late to get a course laid and a race underway. All that was left was to total up the points, work out the winners and head for presentation. 

Some observations from the beach 

This was the first Nationals since Lake Boga 13 years earlier that 100 boats had competed at a National titles and only the second time this has happened. This time however all 100 boats were genuine entries…there were a couple of Lake Boga entries were not really planning to compete. 

Lake Boga was the first nationals for a number of sailors. Amongst those competing in their first Nationals were Maree Early, Phillip Johnson and Shane Navin. You may recognize these names as they now make the National Executive. 

The series was again sailed with great spirit with only one protest. Unfortunately both boats ended up being disqualified. 

This series required the work of a large number of people and I believe that some need a special mention. I know I will offend some who I do not mention by name and I apologize to them. First I would like to thank all those who were involved in the measuring before the series. This was a huge job and in particular caused a lot of work for John Dixon and Phillip Johnson. 

Secondly Natalie Farrell, who held off her resignation from the Victorian committee so that she could help make this series a success. She was heavily involved in all aspects of this series and I hope is now enjoying England. 

Andrew Graham did a large amount of the co-ordinating between the club and the association and was a prime driving force for the social functions. 

It would be impossible to go further and not to mention the sponsors for this series and in particular the 3 major sponsors, Maxwell and Williams Homewares, Airport Luggage and Palm Products (Robert Wilson). Without their support we would not be able to produce the series we did without very significant increase in entry fees. 

Finally I must mention the whole Victorian Committee lead by Fiona McCulloch and many other people who did a large number of jobs without which we would not have had a championships. 

The class showed its strength when you look at the statistics. 22 of the sailors were girls (a percentage not matched in many classes) and 17 were juniors. Add to this our youngest sailors were under 14 while our oldest Phillip Briggs (Qld) was almost 89. Let any other dingy class even come close. 

Stephen Early 1437

Blairgowrie Nationals revisited

Here is an article written about the Sabre Nationals for Blairgowrie's club newsletter.

The week of racing concluded some 2 years of planning by the organisers which comprised both people from BYS as well as from the Sabre Association. Three separate social functions, setting up a boat park, finding sponsors, marketing the event, designing and organising merchandise, chasing would-be and potential entrants and guiding them thru obstacles like measurement and insurance, organising charter boats, devising and agreeing racing formats, trophies....bit like the Olympics really - all that work, and the event itself is over in the blink of an eye! 

Each year's Sabre championships get remembered for something. Last year was the wispy seaweed that would catch on rudders and centreboards. The year before were the schools of jellyfish and 40 degree heat. 2000 was the cold. 1999 was gales and out of their depth club organisers. Blairgowrie 2003 will therefore be remembered for the unpredictable fickle breezes that plagued the week. The score card ? One race with a good sea breeze, 3 races in light to moderate northerlies, 3 in races where morning breezes died to drifters, and 3 races that never happened. The fact that the Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in the following 4 weekends comprised an almost unbroken stream of delightful sea breezes just shows that you can't control the weather !

Fortunately though, we completed sufficient races to not only constitute a series, but also to allow competitors to drop their worst result. And notwithstanding the crazy winds, we still found that the top half-dozen place getters basically comprised the favourites - proving that good sailors are strong in all wind conditions, and don't rely on luck. Congratulations therefore to Wayne Bates for winning 'back-to-back titles, to Rob Hartnett for his second place in what was only his second Sabre nationals, and to Alan Riley for his third place - after just one year in the class ! This result really can't be put down to 'home-town advantage' given the unusual wind and the fact that the race courses were far away from where we conduct normal club racing .

Personally though, I think that just as much recognition needs to go to those BYS sailors who finished in the back part of the fleet. Amongst our 42 entrants were a lot of people entering a championship for the first time. Measurement, mega-start-lines, strange black flags, mass mark-rounding's, back-to back races. For many it was a whole new world, and a daunting one at that. Heart-felt congratulations then to all those who gave it a go, and who have now sampled the special experience of taking part in a major championship. 

A lot of people have commented at how smoothly they thought the event went - but it will be the 3 races where the wind misbehaved that they will remember. No summary of the series would be complete without some summary of those 3 races. Here goes:

Race 1 - sailing out for a 2.00 start in a delightful 15 knot sea breeze. 1.45, and within 5 minutes, the breeze basically evaporates. For an hour the boats bobble around, and some go for a swim. Zephyrs of wind blow from the east, then the north, then the west. Around 3.00pm the sea breeze resumes, but is patchy. The race committee has 15 knots at the start boat, and starts the start sequence. Unbeknownst to them however is that the breeze still hasn't yet reached the far end of the start line. General Recall #1 follows. Attempts 2 and 3 see large 20 degree wind shifts around the 2 minute gun and see large numbers of boats in all sorts of strife and many over early. More General recalls. Attempts 4,5&6 see the tide getting stronger and stronger and the wind getting more erratic. The fleet continues to be sucked over the line as if by a huge suction pump. By now, Bruce Harding has dusted off the dreaded black flag which basically tells competitors that they are disqualified if over the line in the last minute. On attempt #7 we are away. Unfortunately, the wind goes light and fluky, and we had our first encounter with 10 abreast mark rounding's as the fleet bunched up. Those that came down the far left side of the course on the second beat gain a fantastic wind shift - and winners are grinners. Wayne Bates pulls a 22nd.

Race 5 - enough breeze for a start in a light morning sea breeze. Half way along the first reach the breeze starts to die, and only about 10 boats have rounded the wind mark before it basically dies to just a knot or two. The mark is just in the channel, and the tide is reducing their forward pace to a standstill. The race committee puts up the shorten course flag to finish the race at the bottom mark. One solitary boat maintains a small private breeze, and crosses the line. In the next 30 minutes, not one other boat makes it, and all are recorded as 'Did Not Finish' as the time limit expires. Wayne Bates was that solitary boat.

Race 7 - Seven knots of morning sea breeze sees the fleet away. By the first buoy, the wind has died and the fleet spreads out . (Your scribe rounds the top mark in 90th place and gets acquainted with a whole new bunch of competitors). The race committee shorten the course to end after the second beat. Only 27 boats finish within 30 minutes of the winner, and the rest get 'DNF's. Sadly, this means that 73 competitors have to 'carry' this in their results, and the overall results get scrambled for many as a result. The whole fleet gets towed in. Wayne Bates has the big grin however as winner of the race

Race 8 - we never got a race 8. Under our race rules, we weren't able to start a race after 2.00pm on the final day. The sea breeze kicks in around 2.00 with everyone having had to start unrigging their boats already as we wouldn't have made it to the course area in time.

Anyway, the general consensus was still positive - great venue, nice free T-shirts and photos, well-run and good value social functions, well organised regatta office and boat-park, and a buzz about being in such a big fleet. From all the competitors - our huge thanks to those BYS members who gave up their week to man start and patrol boats, and to club members for putting up with all the extra people around the place.

Hopefully amongst the 42 BYS participants there are quite a few people who have experienced the special 'vibe' that comes from participating in a national or state championship and who want to do it again.

Andrew Graham 1624

By wife of Sabre 1493. 

One Hundred Sabres: a Repeat of History. 

1990 – Last century – 13 years ago there was Lake Boga and the National Sabre Titles. One hundred boats, and some very hot days. 

2003 – This century – 14 Titles hence. There was Blairgowrie and the National Sabre Titles. One hundred boats, and some very hot days. 

1990 was sailor 1493’s first Nationals. He was eager, new and totally green to this competition. His first sail on the lake was in 45 degrees heat, fully suited up in a wetsuit and only a can of drink to stave off thirst and dehydration. He came fifty “somewhere” in that regatta and lived! 


It has taken sailor 1493, only, 40 years of Sailing and 14 Nationals to win a race. He was so ecstatic to win a race he wanted to pack up and head back to NSW with his head held high. Only for the fact that a first time Grand Master would never entertain such a sacrilegious thought and he sold himself for $20 at the Calcutta! 

13 years ago his daughter was just toddling. In fact she learnt to take big strides towards the edge of the Lake. Our caravan was parked; you guessed it, right on the water’s edge. I spent 10 days with eyes in the back of my head looking out for sailor 1493’s “Little treasure.” It was at Boga that her joy and love of water was born and I suffered permanent eyestrain. 10 

13 years on and this young lady loves nothing better than the beach. Blairgowrie and the Vic Peninsular provided plenty of sun & surf to satisfy any dryad {water faire}. She made big strides to the surf but even bigger strides to the surf shops and outlets. I spent 10 days with my eyes on my bankcard! 

13 years down the track and you still play the waiting game. Sailors waiting for the wind. Support Crews waiting for the Sailors waiting for the wind. Rescue boats waiting for the sailors waiting for the wind. Control tower waiting for the sailors waiting for the wind, waiting for the rescue boat to tow them in or to commence racing. Waiting … Just waiting. In 13 years – not a lot has changed. 

BUT 13 years on: 

The Camaraderie of the Sabres is still as strong today as it was 13 years ago. Some sailors have moved on to other classes or just…on. The challenge is for the youth of the class to continue on with the strong tradition of the Sabres. To ensure that each year there are Nationals with all the highs and lows experienced by sailors and their support crews because sailor 1493 would really like to improve on 9th place overall and win another race!!! 

He’s still grinning. 

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