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Beau skippered by Nick Dorman. Only been involved with the Couta Boats for the last three months. - photo © A.J. McKinnon
Beau skippered by Nick Dorman. Only been involved with the Couta Boats for the last three months. - photo © A.J. McKinnon

Mercedes-Benz Mornington Couta Boat Association National Championship

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz Mornington Couta Boat Association National Championship is being held at Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club on Port Phillip this weekend.

This event has been running for over twenty years, and attracts a wide range of sailors. This year there are 50 boats taking part across two divisions, with over 300 crew competing.

Jim Wilshire and his crew win the award for travelling the furthest to get here. Most of his crew comes from Western Australia, and one has made the flight from New Zealand. Jim skippers Southerly, which he recently purchased in Sydney. “I am looking forward to racing in this regatta. They are a great group of people and very friendly. Thanks to Tim Phillips for looking after the boat for me.”

Southerly skippered by Jim Wilshire gets used to his new boat - photo © A.J. McKinnon
Southerly skippered by Jim Wilshire gets used to his new boat – photo © A.J. McKinnon

New faces to the class include Brian and Nick Dorman, and Dave Beck who purchased Beau only three months ago. Dave said, “This is only our second regatta in this class. We competed in the Wooden Boat Shop Series, and had great fun. We enjoy the close racing and the friendly environment. Ross Wilson, the previous owner, also joined us today. It’s great to get him out on the water.”

 Jocelyn skippered by Mal Hart, Matida skippered by David Angus and Rhapsody skippered by Colin Mitchell perfectly positioned for this shot © A.J. McKinnonLight breezes were forecast for the morning, with a sea breeze to come in the afternoon. Two races were held today in near perfect sailing conditions. The first race was scheduled to get underway at 1300hrs. With a very light breeze, which had now reached five to seven knots from around 180 degrees, Peter Osbourne, the Race Officer, tried to get the Division One fleet away.

Division One as they make there way to the bottom mark for the first time. What a fleet - photo © A.J. McKinnon
Division One as they make there way to the bottom mark for the first time. What a fleet – photo © A.J. McKinnon

However the fleet was very keen to start, and with the help of the tide we had two general recalls before the race eventually got underway at 1334hrs under UFD. Unfortunately, four boats were still over and paid the price. Division Two got away at 1339hrs, with only one boat OCS.

There was tight racing in both divisions as they first completed a triangle to the wing mark, and then a windward return. Division One did an additional triangle to complete their race.

The finish for Division One in the first race was extremely close, with Romy skippered by David Hendy, and Nepean skipped by Grant Smith tying. Third was Mystify, which is skippered by Bernard O’Hanlon.

By the start of Race Two the breeze had increased to 10 to 14 knots from around 170 dwgrees. This time we only needed one General Recall for Division One before we got underway at 1515hrs, with Division Two starting at 1520. The racing continued to be very close for both divisions in this race too, and the competitors seemed to be enjoying the increase in wind pressure.

Aliscia skippered by Michael Cantwell leads Peter Pan skippered by Nick Sankey who had two firsts today. Congratulations. - photo © A.J. McKinnon
Aliscia skippered by Michael Cantwell leads Peter Pan skippered by Nick Sankey who had two firsts today. Congratulations. – photo © A.J. McKinnon

Nick Sankey skippering Peter Pan in Division Two, had a great day with two bullets. “We’re stoked with the performance of the boat and how we went. We have new sails this season, and we have done a bit of tweaking to the boat. We have had the boat for about two years. We are just getting the feel for the boat and just wanting to improve our performance.”

“I have only been with the Coutas for the last two years. I sailed dinghies, and other guys on the boat have sail other classes before. It’s very exciting. Tomorrow there is probably a bit more pressure on us than we thought. We would love to sail the way we sailed today, however. We would like some heaver winds, so hopefully the winds will be stronger tomorrow.”

Division Two tight racing to the top mark in Race Two of the day. - photo © A.J. McKinnon
Division Two tight racing to the top mark in Race Two of the day. – photo © A.J. McKinnon

At the end of the first day’s racing in Division Two Peter Pan leads by five points ahead of Joan skippered by Trevor Martyn, with Fiona skippered by Graham Cunningham a further point behind. Division One has Romy skippered by David Hendy on 2.5 points, Bella skippered by David Currie on seven points and Mystify skippered by Bernard O’Hanlon on nine points.

Full race results can be found here.

A big thank you to Mercedes-Benz Mornington for their long term support of the SSCBC. Hope you enjoyed your day out watching the racing - photo © A.J. McKinnon
A big thank you to Mercedes-Benz Mornington for their long term support of the SSCBC. Hope you enjoyed your day out watching the racing – photo © A.J. McKinnon
Life on the foredeck - photo © A.J. McKinnon
Life on the foredeck – photo © A.J. McKinnon
Its all about the red hats or is that protest flags? - photo © A.J. McKinnon
Its all about the red hats or is that protest flags? – photo © A.J. McKinnon
 I think we can get around? - photo © A.J. McKinnon
I think we can get around? – photo © A.J. McKinnon

by A.J. McKinnon

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