Sean Kirkjian wins the 2017 Quantum Australian Nationals

Thank you to Simon Grain for this report: Sean Kirkjian’s Pacific Sailing School team admirably aided by the inimitable ‘AJ’ Tony Reynolds and the school graduates in Sailpac have taken out the 2017 Australian Nationals with a solid and consistent result over Shane Guanaria, helming Class stalwart Arthur Crother’s Kaotic by 4 points. Brendan Lee sailing By the Lee from Melbourne was third by another 7 points. A recent record fleet of 25 boats competed in the Nationals hosted by the Cronulla Sailing Club, located in Port Hacking on the southern edge of Sydney. Many competitors were visiting Cronulla for the first time and have come away with great memories and glowing opinions of the regatta. Cronulla Sailing Club ironed out all the bugs identified in the NSW States held in early November and ran a faultless regatta. From the brilliant sailing waters on the ocean side to the picturesque Gunamatta Bay where the club is located (5-minute walk to the surf beach on the other side of the small Cronulla peninsula) and the friendly, helpful and happy club volunteers serving us dinner every night off the BBQ, I didn’t hear one grumble about the running and management of the regatta. I am confident in saying there are many looking forward to another in the future–even those from the harbour loved it! Out on the racetrack, the competition was fierce, with black flags and consequent DSQs happening after each general recall. PRO Dave McLachlan ran a near faultless series, a couple of major wind changes right on the starting signal being the only difficulty encountered. The usual gladiators took out the top end of the results with the exception of Brendan Lee who is a rising star from the Sandringham fleet in Melbourne. Brendan has been putting in a major effort in both club and regatta racing, and his third place reflects this. Stephen Girdis sailing Convicts took out fourth, with Dave West’s Ace being sailed by SA blow-in crew Doug ‘El Fideldo’ Watson due to Dave’s wife’s medical emergency. Another great performance at the last minute by Doug. ‘Mr. J/24′ Hugo Ottaway sailing Bruschetta IV and NSW Class President John Crawford took the next two from Steve O’Rourke, Simon Grain and Janette Syme (rounding out the top ten). Racing was generally light to medium in SE to NE breezes with most boats never pulling out jibs for the whole regatta. An 18-20 knot NE breeze tested some of the boats on the last day but not really causing any real trouble. Generally going left paid but not always, and sometimes it was possible to find a wind bend on the right hand corner that gave you a few places. Racing was tight around the corners, and the otherwise well-behaved fleet experienced a little shouting! Janette Syme sailing Wildfire took out the Thomo cup from brother Ron in Kicking—a popular and deserving win. Handicap results went much the same way as the OD results although with a reversal in order at the top. Winning with 51 points was Brendan Lee from Sean Kikjian on 52 and Stephen Girdis on 53—so a close finish there. Fourth was Shane Guanaria on 66 from Simon Grain on 67. Full results are on the Cronulla site: Seven boats made the trip up from Melbourne and two (Robyn and Jim Townsend plus son Andrew) from South Australia (a substantial trip by any measure)—10 Cronulla boats and the rest from the harbour. All in all, a good spread from around the country. The Cronulla Club and its volunteers did a fantastic job in making us feel very welcome and efficiently ran the on-shore and on-water parts of the regatta. The success of the regatta is in no small way a result of work done over a long period of time by the enthusiastic Mick Reynolds (sadly being away during the regatta) and others in helping to build the Cronulla fleet. Running up to and during the regatta, Fiona Campbell, Bronwyn Elford, Rhonda Wodzinski and the team of volunteers serving up the BBQ dinner every day, looking after launching and retrieving on the hardstand, the teams out on the water all did a fantastic job and on behalf of all the competitors and associations involved, we thank you for your magnificent efforts. A big thank you to Quantum and our other sponsors: Spot a yacht, Afloat Magazine, Wet Tech, Aussea, Sailor Sunscreen, CBON, Explore Sailing. Cronulla—you have many new converts to your magic location! More pictures are available on the Cronulla Facebook page. Onward and upward…you might like to plan for the annual Cronulla SC Queens Birthday Short Course regatta in June this year. The SA States are mid-March, and the Vic States are mid-April. The NSW States are around the first weekend in November (likely to be back in the harbour), and of course the next Nationals are to be at the CYCSA in Adelaide in early January 2018.

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