How good was that!!
NACRA NATIONALS 2023/2024
REGATTA MATCH REPORT
Over the new year, many of our RQYS Nacra Sailors headed down to Lake Macquarie in NSW for a big week of sailing, competing in the 43rd Nacra Nationals held out of Speers Point Amateur Sailing Club. With almost 100 sailors of all ages competing in the 12 races across 5 days, the home club was well represented with 12 sailors and podium finishes. The standard of racing in all fleets was excellent, with some incredibly close racing throughout, the scorecards were changing every race, and no placing was ever “secured” until the end. With courses being set so close to shore, racing provided plenty of challenges with shifts and pressure variations. Let’s not forget the infamous Speers Point jellyfish making the spinnaker runs slightly more interesting when encountering one with a ‘hit-and-run’ tactic. Picking the best side of the course and sticking with pressure proved to be the regattas key to success for the challenging lake-sailing conditions and different breezes that came with each day.
Before anything, a massive thank you goes out to the following: to Scott and the NSW Nacra Association for organising and putting on such a great event. To Speers Point Amateur Sailing Club for hosting. To the race officials, committee, volunteers, and all those involved at the club, this wouldn’t have been made possible without you. A big shoutout goes to the major sponsors of the event – Club Macquarie, Stepz Fitness and to MUSTO for all the gear that was donated for the regatta. To those snapping the on-water action shots, your photos are absolutely incredible. Lastly, the competitors. With nearly 100 sailors on water, the racing and feedback of sportsmanship was nothing but positive.
Day 1 consisting of a light, patchy and dying breeze with overcast weather meant we were only able to get through two (very long) of the three scheduled races. In the 4.5 fleet, Stuart House was starting his regatta off strong with two first place finishes and Steve Nelson not far behind, finishing the day sitting in fifth. Jumping over to the youths in the 15 fleet, the international competition from New Caledonia were showing off their light wind skills and giving the Aussie’s a run for their money. Kris Bilston and Addison Lester kicked off their regatta with double bullets, whilst Riley House and young gun crew, Lachy Lys brought home a second in race 1. With Luke and James Oakden deciding to DNF race 1, they finished the day with what would be their drop races of 8th and 6th, proving to everyone just how tricky the conditions were. On the 5.8 racecourse, the friendly rivalry was only just beginning between close friends, Chris Davey on Hot Patootie and Colin Bilston on Scat Cat as they finished the day with a one-point difference in 13th and 14th place.
After the New Year’s lay day, the rigging yard was quickly bustling with excited, slightly tired sailors and flapping sails by 11 o’clock as it seemed the new year brought in new breeze. With three races scheduled, there was not a doubt that we would be getting through them as the winds had shifted to a 20+ knot increasing North Easterly breeze, still patchy with strong gusts (and lulls). “Bit on out there” seemed to be the phrase for the day as the kite legs and reaches were the make-or-break legs for many and keeping the boat upright proved to be a major advantage as the days racing finished with a grand total of 37 capsizes across the fleets (out came the capsize cartons!!) Stuart House and Steve Nelson in the 4.5’s were neck and neck throughout the day, both finishing within boatlengths and one place of each other each race. Steve finished the day with a win, pushing him up into third place while Stuart took an unfortunate swim in front of the spectator boat. In the 15’s, Luke and James Oakden were putting on a show, finishing with a clean sweep of silver, making up for day 1. Managing to climb five positions in the standings, they finished the day in second place, chasing the first off of Kris and Addy who were holding onto their winning streak. Colin and Gian Bilston in the 5.8 were on a roll, finishing up the day’s races with two 8th places and a 9th out of the 24-boat fleet.
With an early start to the days racing, the calmer 6-8 knot very patchy breeze meant rig tensions were eased and battens were loosened. While the breeze was attempting to fill in all morning and didn’t until around midday, the conditions meant it was a heads-out-the-boat kinda day. After having a drifter first race, the postponement flag was put up as the breeze was finally starting to kick in. After what felt like a forever of waiting, it was time to go fast with winds picking up to a consistent 15 knots by race 3. Racing was getting tighter in every fleet as the drops began to come into play. Steve continued on from his day 2 racing, cleaning up with a 2, 3, 3, still chasing the silver off of Stuart. The competition was on for the 15’s as some fluctuations in the scorecards started to appear. With the top three boats finishing closer with each race, Kris and Addy took out three for three, whilst the Oakden boys were catching up with 2, 3, 2. Riley and Lachy followed close behind with 5, 6, 4, pushing them further up the ladder. The Scat Cat duo began the day with a drop race of 18th, before coming back strong in races 7 and 8, finishing with a 13th and 12th. Chris Davey and crew, Leonardo Pledger were making up places after having to abandon their days racing yesterday, they finished races 6 and 7 in 8th and 9th.
The sailors just couldn’t seem to catch a break with the breeze. Day 4 started off with a building 15 knot southerly, still filling in by the time the first race of the day came around and came with decent sized waves (for a lake). The podium finishers were continuing to shift in the 4.5’s as Steve Nelson cleaned up with 2 bullets whilst Stuart finished not far behind, closing the day out with a 3rd and 4th. On the 15 racetrack, leading boat Kris and Addy had had a run-in with a downwind F18 in race 1, putting them back and finishing the race in 6th, however they came back to win in the next race. Riley House and Lachie Lys came off the water feeling rather chuffed as they led the fleet to the finish in race 9 and finished with a 3rd in race 10. Meanwhile, the Oakden brothers were holding onto silver, adding two more second places to their scorecard. Climbing up the ladder in the 5.8 fleet, The father/daughter Bilston duo were continuing with their top 10 finishes for the day’s races.
DAY 5 & FINAL PLACINGS
The final day of the regatta came with a nice 15-20 knot breeze and a racecourse set much closer to shore. The sailors enjoyed ripping around the course to wrap up an awesome regatta. The RQ 4.5 competitors were giving it all they had as Steve Nelson closed out his regatta with a 5th place in race 11 and a win in the last, indicating a possible overtake of Stuart House in second. With Stu finishing his regatta also on a high note with two silver bullets for the final races, this would decide the final placings. Having sealed their victory in the 15 fleet, Kris and Addy ended their regatta with a 1, 2 to their close competition from Hervey Bay. The Oakden boys finished up with a 2nd and 3rd place whilst Riley and Lachy ended with a race drop of 8th after an unfortunate capsize when they were leading the fleet in race 1 but came back stronger and finished 4th in the final race. Finally, over in the 5.8 fleet, the Bilston’s were on fire for race 11, finishing up with an 8th place. However in the final race, Col went for a swim mid-downwind after a rudder mishap, giving them a 25 on the scoreboard to be dropped.
Back on shore, boats were washed down, masts were dropped and loaded onto trailers and the sailors were getting glammed up for the much-awaited presentation dinner and final placings. Starting off with the Nacra 15’s, n Rhythm n Rhyme, Kris Bilston and Addison Lester maintained a near perfect score throughout the regatta and secured their national title. Finishing in second place with their consistent performance were Luke and James Oakden on Vanquish, whilst the Hervey Bay duo, Max and Alex Rott on Cool Runnings rounded out the podium. Sailing in the well fought 4.5 on-water battle, the fleet’s podium finishers had much to be proud of. Keeping his lead in the final days of the regatta, Brisbane Catamaran’s Warren Guinea finished in first with a 5-point lead. As for second and third place on the podium, in the tightest racing and closest results the regatta saw, Stuart House secured silver with a one-point difference to Steve Nelson in third. Out of the 24 boats in the 5.8 fleet, Colin and Gian Bilston put up a good fight with some pretty up-there results, they finished up in 12th, whilst Chris Davey and Leonardo Pledger finished 18th. A big congratulations to all competitors, it was so good to see the racing getting closer and tighter with each day of the regatta.
How good was that nationals!! Now onto the next regatta…
Kris Bilston & Addison Lester (AUS037) – 1st
Luke Oakden & James Oakden (AUS061) – 2nd
Riley House & Lachlan Lys (AUS057) – 5th
Stuart House (539) – 2nd
Steve Nelson (601) – 3rd
Colin Bilston & Gian Bilston (1654) – 12th
Chris Davey & Leonardo Pledger (1702) – 18th
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