The International 5.5m Australian Championship was held over the 26-28 February 2023 on Pittwater and hosted by the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club.
Sunday saw the 12 strong fleet, a mix of classic, evolution and modern designs head out for racing in perfect conditions, sunny and with a building North Easterly breeze.
Race Officer, Stephen Merrington, set up the course at 040 degrees and kicked off the regatta with 4 races to make the most of the fantastic conditions. John Bacon, sailing with James Mayjor and Terry Wetton, came out firing with two bullets in the first two races. Snapping at their heels though was Tom Spithill, Rhapsody, two second places and Martin Cross, Alpha Crucis, with a pair of third places.
Race 3, saw Ku-Ring-Gai struggle at the start and only recover to eighth place with Rhapsody getting the win with Alpha Crucis second and Scotty O’Connor, Kings Cross, taking out third.
The fourth race saw normal service resumed for the top two boats, Ku-Ring-Gai first and Rhapsody second however third place was taken by Jamie MacPhail in Black Magic.
Monday and day 2 of the regatta saw Pittwater once again deliver superb racing conditions and once again John Bacon came out flying winning the first race with Rhapsody second and Black Magic now pushing the leaders hard in third. Honours in race 6 were taken by Tom Spithill adding to his incredibly consistent showing of firsts and seconds throughout the series. Second was the continuously improving Black Magic and third was Alpha Crucis.
The final race of the day was again a tight very tight with 4 boats crossing the finish line almost together, Jamie MacPhail taking the win from Ku-Ring-Gai and Alpha Crucis. The day finished with Jamie MacPhail, Black Magic scoring a 3, 2, 1 result giving them the Boat Of The Day flag and John Bacon hanging on to the lead on count back; both Ku-Ring-Gai and Rhapsody with 10 points each and two race to go.
Tuesday, final day of the series, 2 races were sailed in a light and shifty east, north easterly breeze as a final test for competitors. Race 8 got underway a little late as the Race Officer let the wind settle a little; but Jamie MacPhail on Black Magic resumed from where he left off the day before leading the fleet home for another victory ahead of Ku-Ring-Gai and Kings Cross.
Going into the final race only two things had been decided, Scotty O’Connor’s Kings Cross could not be caught as best Classic Boat in the regatta, winning the International 5.5m Silver Cup and Tim Fussell sailing Sic Em Rex would be taking home the Fred Craig Juno Handicap Trophy; the Australian Championship was still very much up for grabs.
Rhapsody took the win but with Ku-Ring-Gai coming home second meant they topped the results table; the drama was not over though! Spithill felt that after an infringement by Bacon, he delayed taking the penalty and gained an advantage by doing so.
The President of the Australian International 5.5m Association thanked the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, the Race Officer Stephen Merrington and his team on the committee boat and mark boat and the competitors that had all made for another fantastic regatta before awarding the winners with trophies and prizes
Final results overall for place-getters:
Handicap Results 2023
3rd Place ARUNGA VIII JOACHIM FLUHRER
2nd Place ALPHA CRUCIS MARTIN CROSS
1st Place Winner of the Fred Craig Juno Handicap Trophy
SIC EM REX TIM FUSSELL
Australian Championship 2023
5th Place Winner of the 5.5m Silver Cup for 1st Classic Boat
KINGS CROSS SCOTTY O’CONNOR
3rd Place BLACK MAGIC JAMIE MACPHAIL
2nd Place RHAPSODY CHRIS HANCOCK – Sailed by TOM SPITHILL
1st Place Winner of the 5.5m Gold Cup for the first Evolution or Modern Boat and the D’Arcy Shelly Memorial Australian Championship Trophy
KU-RING-GAI JOHN BACON