Down in Australia, the Aussie superstars are gathering for what promises to be a hotly contested opening event of 2018   Robert Griffits reports.

 

In just a little under one week, the starter’s gun will fire signalling the start of the 2017/18 Australian A Class Cat Championships.  The composition of the fleet is now crystallising.

 Nathan Outteridge has returned home to the waters upon which he learned to sail, and to where he received the call to join an America’s Cup Team in 2012, and tomorrow will assume command of the A Cat that has been pieced together for him by Steven Brewin.

Glenn Ashby has also resumed his very familiar and comfortable stance at the helm of his latest A Class, and will be looking to add yet another engraving on the perpetual trophy.

Will the third Australian Skipper of the 2017 America’s Cup Cycle also join the fray. That is still unknown. We know that he loves sailing his new AD3 boat. But he already has a tight Xmas/New Sailing card, as he will be sailing in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, which starts on Boxing Day. Fortunately, the 100 feet “Comanche” is a pretty fast boat for a monohull, so should make relatively short work of 640 NM.

The sailing will be held on the coastal lake waters of Lake Macquarie, which is located about 100 kilometres north of Sydney, under the auspices of PRO Tony Outteridge from the Wangi Amateur Sailing Club.

This venue was the site of the highly successful 2012 National Titles which featured a fair sprinkling of America’s Cup skippers and Olympians. The fleet that year boasted a record fleet of 71 boats. Glenn Ashby won, Nathan Outteridge was second, and Steven Brewin third.

Currently have 50 boats signed and payed up entries. The will probably be a few more entries, Nathan has two spares A Cats that have just returned in the container from Bermuda, and he is hoping to convince his sister Haylee to sail one the boats.

Steven Brewin, the defending Australian Champion, and current World Championship will be seeking another top of the podium spot. Steven’s training schedule has been less intense that it was in the lead up to his World title victory in Sopot He has been taking time out to sail an F18, as well as making numerous sails and trampolines for other A Class competitor. It should be mentioned in passing that he did make enough time to win another NSW State A Class Title in late October.

Steven’s training and development partner, Darren Bundock will not be competing, as he will be rendezvousing with his partner Carolyn Brouwer whom is currently hurtling across the Southern Ocean towards Melbourne in the Volvo Around the World Race.

Three New Zealanders have entered, with Kiwi’s led by David Shaw, whom just missed a podium finish in Sopot with that magnificent 4th overall.

 Daniel Philpott will once again be marking the trans-Tasman Crossing (at 35000 feet, not sea level), and he will be accompanied by Charlotte Corston, adding to female competition.

There is substantial depth of field amongst the other Australian line up, including Stephen Brayshaw, Brad Collett, and Adam Beattie. Class newcomer David Griffith made his mark at the NSW States with a second overall.

The split in the fleet at this stage is 32 foilers, and 18 non-foilers. Leading the non-foiling are Scott Anderson and Chris Cairns.

The usual unknown is the weather. What we idolise as a typical Lake Macquarie Summer’s Day is an afternoon’s Seabreeze at 15 to 18 knots that is sucked in from the cooler ocean by the sun’s heat set on the backdrop of a cloudless blue sky.

 The party can be spoiled a bit if the wind blows out of the interior as these winds are gusty, shifty and very hot. If we can’t have a Seabreeze, we would rather settle for Southerly (cool), or slighter warmer South-East wind.

Calm days are uncommon this time of year, so the winds and flat water of the venue should be ideal for foiling.

Bring it on. It should be a blast.