The Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron open team has taken out the debut National Sailing League Oceania event, earning the honour of ‘best club’ plus a wildcard entry to the Sailing Champions League Final in St Moritz in August.
At the completion of the full schedule of 45 races over three days, 14 teams were whittled down to four carrying the burgee of two strong Sydney clubs, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron’s open and youth team facing their foes across the harbour, the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s open and youth team, in the final on Sunday April 28, 2019.
It was all over after one final series race in light easterlies, the RSYS team skippered by David Chapman carrying a win from the club’s qualifying series victory through to the first-to-two wins final. A start line incident saw them fall out of the umpires’ favour and they penalty turned, putting their Elliott 7 last around the bottom gate at the mid-way point. As good fortune would have it, a massive gain on the righthand side of the track moved them up to first, and the talented crew completed the task on the closing downwind leg in front of the spectator fleet and those watching from the adjacent RSYS lawn and clubhouse.
“It hasn’t really sunk in; these guys did a great job,” said Chapman, referring to his RSYS teammates Matt Whitnall, Greg O’Shea and Charlotte Alexander, following their triumph. “First open and first youth is a fantastic result for the host club, on home waters in front of everyone. I couldn’t be prouder. I’ve been jealous of the Bundesliga in Germany for years. We’ve been slow to get it going here – huge congrats to Mark [Turnbull] and Howard [Elliott] for finally making it happen.”
Second overall was the CYCA Open team skippered by Reg Lord with crew Ben Lamb, Murray Jones and Tara Blanc-Ramos on the bow.
The RSYS crew of skipper Jack Littlechild, Evie Haseldine, Max Paul, Alex Rozenauers and Maddie O’Shea finished third overall and first youth team, giving them automatic entry to the SCL Youth Final at Keil Woche this coming June.
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s team led by Zane Gifford finished one point off the top four but receives a wildcard entry to the St Moritz final, being the first Kiwi crew.
Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club with Shelley White at the helm dominated the women’s category over three days of racing on Sydney Harbour in light to moderate SW-SE breezes, giving the Perth crew a wildcard spot at the Copenhagen women’s event later this year. With the separate women’s category plus entry requirement for all open teams to have at least one female aboard there were more women competing at the Oceania league’s inaugural event, a noticeable and welcome outcome for organisers.
Full NSL Final results available here: https://nationalsailingleague.com.au/results/
PRO Ian Humphries race-managed an ambitious program of 46 12-15 minute races in a range of wind strengths and directions, plus a team of umpires and other officials at the start-up league event. The plan from here on is a travelling circuit of qualifying events culminating in a final, either using clubs’ existing one design fleets, or a brand-new fleet of RS21 keelboats purchased for the league.
NSL director Mark Turnbull and co-director Howard Elliott are excited about the expansion to come. “Nine months ago Howard and I decided to bring to Oceania what is a very successful concept in Europe,” Turnbull said. “To all the clubs which participated in the first event, it wouldn’t have happened without you, and to all the clubs watching on we look forward to seeing you next time around.”