Eclectic mix of competitors head to Esperance for Australian Flying Fifteen Championships
Esperance Bay Yacht Club are hosting the International Flying Fifteen 55th Australian National Championships from Friday 30th December 2016 to Thursday 5th January 2017.
The popular Western Australian venue held the memorable International Flying Fifteen World Championships in 1999 and boasts aqua marine waters, good solid sea breezes and a social scene with a reputation!
41 entries include interstate competitors from Victoria and Queensland and one top team all the way from the UK. An eclectic mix of competitors include world champions, a good mix of male and female sailors and all ages ranging from 17 years to 87 years!
Former world champion Alan Bax and crew Simon Childs have come all the way from the UK to enjoy some competitive warm water sailing (no doubt in training for the Worlds in Napier, New Zealand in March 2017). But (Baxxy) will surely have his hands full with a number of strong WA teams including another former world championship pairing, Nick & Janet Jerwood and the exuberant glamour buoys, Greg Leaversuch & Peter Barblett and a mixed pairing of Philippa Packer, crewed by former world champ and current RFBYC commodore, Dean McAullay.
Other strong contenders include Ron Packer, crewed by Steve Ward, (builder of the 1983 AC winning Australia ll), former national champions, Ashley Smith & Adam Kingston from Queensland, amongst a strong continent from Royal Freshwater Bay YC and South of Perth YC.
Knowledge of the local waters will likely favour some of the local teams which are represented by a broad range of age groups from the youngest pairing of JJ Wallace (18yrs) & Sam Gardner (21yrs) all the way up to the local icon of the fleet Nils Blumann (82yrs) and his crew Gary Warman. Nils is a former FFI commodore and recipient of the Uffa Fox medal and once sailed a Flying Fifteen from Esperance to Perth, some 560 nm by sea! Also a number of the stories regarding social events seem to be linked to Nils for some reason!!
Another veteran of the FF scene is Bill Shand (a mere 87yrs) who will be driving across the Nullarbor from Melbourne to compete in his umpteenth championship.
Racing takes place in Open, Silver and Classic categories. An invitational race is scheduled for Sat 31 Dec, followed by a lay day on Sun Jan 1st to enjoy some of the local scenic delights and tastes of Esperance before racing commences on Mon 2 Jan through to Thu 5 Jan.
There is a full schedule of social events for friends and families. More details are available from: www.ebyc.com.au and www.ffiwa.com and the Facebook site: www.facebook.com/FFIWA
The organising authority of the 2017 Gemmill Homes Flying Fifteen 55th Australian National Championship is Esperance Bay Yacht Club (Inc), in conjunction with Flying Fifteen International Australia (Inc).
Sponsors include Gemmill Homes, Agribusiness, Cliffs, South Coast Insurance Brokers, Southern Ports Authority, Brahma, Ferngrove and Southeast Petroleum.
It is guaranteed to be an event not to miss!!
by Jonny Fullerton of Grand Prix Sailing