Past Commodore Bas Huibers (Merak) and Anthony Beck (Escape) represented RYCV at the recent S80s State Championships held at Sandringham Yacht Club.
A fleet of 20 boats gathered to compete over 3 days and encountered a wide range of testing weather conditions, from 20- 30 knot northerlies on day 1 to frustratingly light and shifting southerlies by day 3.
Day 1 – race 1 saw Flying Circus (a very quick Geelong boat) lose its rig metres from the finishing line as it powered downwind under kite. Everyone was disappointed that Don Collins and his crew would not be able to continue the series. They are now working overtime to get the boat ready for Festival of Sails.
The racing was very competitive and fair with only one protest (two boats approaching the bottom mark on different gybes with the port gybe boat claiming the inside overlap and buoy room – which was in the right? – first correct answer receives nothing actually, but the satisfaction of a superior sense of self importance)
The top 4-5 boats were very close with multiple heat winners. Redstick Revolution from Geelong, a new boat to the championships came from nowhere to challenge for top spot. Crewed by Geelong sail maker Tony Bull and assorted young guns from a Sydney 38 background, skipper Peter Stephens , Past Commodore from RGYC demonstrated seriously impressive form.
The series was won for the 7th time by Sandy boat Intrusion skippered by Luke Reinehr. Luke is a class stalwart, an outstanding sailor, a strong supporter of the class and very encouraging of all crews in the fleet.
Escape Versus Merak
The real interest however was in the titanic struggle between Escape and Merak. These crews have been battling each other all over the bay for more than 5 years with the results on balance favouring Bas. For these championships, Escape got off to a flyer, recording as series of good early results and then slipping back in the fleet as the conditions lightened – while Merak started slowly and came storming home.
The end result was a series win by Escape over Merak (9th versus 10th) but by the closest possible margin – a count back. (The photo shows Bas and Anthony smiling through gritted teeth!!)
Advantages of Class Racing.
These championships, again demonstrated the benefits of the S80 as a one design keelboat racer. Many heats were won by only the narrowest of margins and 5 -6 boats would routinely finish within a minute of each other. This meant there was always the opportunity to make up multiple places by good decision making while always seeking to protect your current position against boats threatening to overtake.
A Typical Race Sequence
A good start was critical, as was a good first leg, hooking into the prevailing wind pattern and securing a good position at the first mark. Do you approach on port and duck the cavalcade of starboard boats or seek the security of the starboard lay line?
Next is a good spinnaker hoist which will make or lose 3 boat lengths.
S80s gybe downwind and while looking for the lifts upwind we are now seeking the knocks while maintaining the optimum gybe angle and velocity made good to the bottom mark (I still don’t know what that elusive angle is??)
The bottom mark is a gate; do you go left or right??? Have you secured rights to round your preferred mark?
Repeat the above sequence and finish either up or downwind depending upon the course.
At the conclusion of the race quickly settle your nerves, debrief, set the boat up for any changed conditions and repeat the exercise.
SYC did a superb job of race management in some tricky conditions and the Club’s facilities were excellent and staff very attentive.
If you are interested in competitive class racing in a fast, easily handled boat then check out the S 80 website or talk to Bas or Anthony ( there are some good boats for sale and for a modest commission either of us is happy to advise and assist)