The Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron on the southern isthmus of Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne hosted the 2021 Australian J/70 National Championship. Here is the report from Nickie Douglass: With two strong days of racing down in the 2021 J/70 Australian Championship, the weather served up testing conditions for the racing crews and Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron race management team on the third and final day. In what could be deemed the most challenging, yet exciting race of the series, race seven was a battle from start to finish. With the course set at 160 degrees and the southeaster blowing directly from the club with the outgoing current, the shifts, which came in waves of pressure, were significant. Reg Lord, defending National Champion, and his team on JUNO were first to identify a left-hand shift during the start sequence, and popped at the pin cleanly as the gun went. Current regatta leader Tim Ryan and his crew on VAMOS were just off their hip, and second-placed CELESTIAL were to windward of them, but opted to tack onto port shortly after starting, as did Karyn Gojnich and her team on THE JACKAL. The next pressure line came from the right, and CELESTIAL and THE JACKAL looked to be making the most of the pivoting course. The local teams of JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH, and the all-female team on SPIKE, and the only NSW Corinthians MAYBE J were able to slip up the middle of the course while those on the left were left flailing in easing pressure. The rounding at the first mark of the course and the second gates were the same, with CELESTIAL leading from JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH, SPIKE, MAYBE J and THE JACKAL. On the second circuit rounding the cans, a pod of dolphins joined in with the racing, making for a happy distraction for crews while trying to connect the dots with the fickle pressure. CELESTIAL skipper Sam Haynes and his crew of David Chapman, Johnny Warren and Locky Pryor continued to lead around the final mark, but it was the local heroes on JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH who stole the gun on the line thanks to the final puff coming more from the west to push them over the line. Laura Harding and her all-female youth team on SPIKE from Blairgowrie Yacht Squadron rounded out the podium, finishing in their best place of the regatta so far. The results also meant that Tim Ryan on VAMOS and his crew who had been sailing a near perfect regatta, would have to sail in the final race 8 to secure their win over the closing team of Celestial. After a lengthy delay under AP, the breeze finally settled once again at 165 degrees, and the J/70 fleet for the first time of the regatta saw a change in the course, from a two-lap windward leeward to a three-lapper. VAMOS triggered at exactly the right time at the pin to lead off the line, with the second-placed team of CELESTIAL right on their hip. VAMOS had their eyes on the prize and kept themselves in between CELESTIAL and the next mark, and the local team JOUST 70 skippered by Rod Warren slipped through to take the lead around the first and second marks of the course. CELESTIAL opted to split from VAMOS, and took the left-hand turn at the bottom gate, while JOUST 70 ahead of them, then VAMOS at the same time as CELESTIAL, and then the youth all-female team on SPIKE all opted for the right-hand turn. The next phase of the breeze came from the left, forcing CELESTIAL back to fourth, dashing their hopes of a chance to take the title. The commanding VAMOS team of Rob Greenhalgh, Charlie Gundy and Jess Grimes, led by skipper Tim Ryan took the lead up the second beat and were not challenged for the remaining two laps. They crossed the finish line to take their sixth race win of the series, and the overall championship with a race to spare. Rod Warren’s JOUST 70 with Aaron Cole, Tim Smith and Ollie Vanderslot took second place, with Laura Harding and the all-female youth team on SPIKE backing up their race 7 performance with another third place. With the Championship and runner-up positions already decided, VAMOS and CELESTIAL opted to head back to the beach for the final race of the series to allow the teams on JUNO skippered by Reg Lord, and THE JACKAL, skippered by Karyn Gojnich to battle it out for the final podium position. JUNO opted to cover THE JACKAL in the pre-start forcing them to the right hand side with an early port tack duck off the line. With the easing breeze and the outgoing current, the top mark was a mess, with multiple crews doing turns for nipping the first mark of the course. JUNO took command of the race and took the win, securing third place in the overall Championship for the defending champion Reg Lord and his crew of Tom Grimes, Murray Jones and James Hodgson. Local team JO JO ZIP skippered by Ian Cooper with Neil Taylor, John Lindholm, Dean Taylor and Callum Burns had the best race of their series finishing in second. Michael Nash, Peter Nash, John Watson, Garth Davies and Maria Nash on MAYBE J finished third to secure the Corinthian Division for 2021. Laura Harding, Ella Grimshaw, Daisy Laing, Hannah Danks and Harriette Singh finished in sixth, to not only take the boat of the day bragging rights, but the Youth Division for 2021. Karyn Gojnich, Sara Ladd, Ewa Lindelof and Kyle Dodds on SPIKE finished in fourth place to secure fourth overall in the championship and the Female Division for 2021.
1st Overall, Vamos (l-r) Charlie Gundy, Rob Greenhalgh, Jess Grimes, Tim Ryan, Matt McCarthy, Vice Commodore BYS
Ladies Division winner Karyn Gojnich with Matt McCarthy, Vice Commodore BYS
Corinthian Division Winner, Michael Nash with Matt McCarthy, Vice Commodore BYS

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