2000 AUS Nationals

2000 Australian Tasar Championships

Saturday, January 8

As unseasonable rain showers cleared, competitors congregated at the Point Wolstonsroft Sport and Recreation Camp, on Lake Macquarie, for Tasar 2000. From Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the ACT, as well as the home state, the competitors, families and friends moved-in to the Camp's cabins, registered in the mess hall and rigged on the grass covered banks of the lake. A total of 45 boats had entered the championship, fewer than anticipated, but including a mixture of top-class and other levels of experience.

As President of the host state association, Chris Parkinson led the opening brief. He introduced Ken Bolton as the Principal Race Officer, the team from Speers Point SC who were to run the rescue boats and, most importantly, the social coordinator, Sue Darby.

After lunch rigging preparations were completed and the boats launched for the invitation race. The sun shone and, combined with a variable SE breeze of between 10 and 15 knots ensured pleasant and interesting conditions. Unusually for Tasars, the fleet started correctly first time, with no recalls. As with all the beats, crews needed to gauge the extent and duration of the near continuously shifting breeze whilst keeping their boats flat and fast.

As the race progressed all the states and territories represented at the Championship were represented at or near the front of the fleet. Early leaders from Victoria were Wayne Hale and Tony White (2718) closely followed by current International and National champions from NT, Ben Nicholas and Tom Winters (2674). The ACT's Martin Linsley and Nick Grey (2604) were close behind, followed by NSW's Phil Darby and Ben Howe (170), South Australia's Craig Mcphee and then Victoria's Dave and Doris Bretherton. With little difference in the boat speed of this group, picking of shifts on the beats determined place changes and positions. At the finish Craig/Tony crossed the line just in front of the Brethertons, with Wayne/Tony third.

Sunday, January 9

A lighter wind from the same SE direction prevailed for the first race of the Championship, and it both oscillated in direction and varied in strength. The course was a long one, perfectly set, with the race lasting just over two hours.
The conditions were such that cunning and experience overcame youth and exuberance. Phil Darby and Ben picked a shift in the final countdown and made the perfect pin-end start. They were never to be headed. Close behind them Hale, Linsley and Nicholas were in contention, but it was Rob and Nicole Douglass who steadily passed the three of them to present the major challenge for the lead during the last two laps. Behind them, a penalty caused Nicholas to fall back. Hale was passed by Linsley, who then began to close on the leaders. At the front Douglass's efforts to break the close cover imposed by Darby slowed them both, such that Linsley almost took the lead. But Darby held on to win by seconds from Douglass, with Linsley third and Nicholas fourth. Frank Bethwaite and Sophie Callander won the silver division with their 18th placing. (Gold and Silver Divisions were determined by the results of the first four races.)

One of the pleasant features of the regatta was the company of visitors who came to renew old friendships at the Championship. Thus it was good to see Peter Caldwell, John Hibberd, Mark Bromelow, Darren Bolton, Allen Downs and Phil Thomson (who also served well as chairman of the protest committee).

On the Sunday evening a crew versus skipper cricket match was played on the Camp tennis courts. The competition was at least as intense as that on the water. For the crews Tom Winter proved a dynamic bowler, while Richard Furneaux's wicket keeping was spectacular for the skippers. The crews were declared victorious, but as the umpire (Phil Crome) was one, the result could be subject to protest!

Monday, January 10

The day's organised activities began with a mini-Olympics for which sailors were grouped by club background into six teams. Following a couple of events involving balloons, locomotion and dummy spitting the major event involved a tug-of-war eventually won by a miscellaneous/mixed lot.
In the afternoon the variable SE breeze was back as before with an average strength of 9-10kts. Three short races were held, each with a windward-return, triangle, windward-return course. With shorter legs, the starts proved all important, and with the oscillating wind, picking the favored end the key element. In the first two races Nicholas and Linsley clearly made the correct choices for they were first and second respectively at the first mark and they held those positions through to the finish. Behind them some boats sailed through the finish line prematurely, leading to their disqualification. Third in the first race was Lachlan Brown and Trish Collacott (2619), and in the second race Ian and Lyndell Shand (1843) won the position. In the silver division Graham and Nicole Hannah (2583) finishing16th for the first race honours, with Ray Hale and Sean Hackett (1929) finishing16th for second race success.

The start of the third race of the day brought change to the front of the fleet. Mcphee waited at the pin-end for a hole in the line of starboard tackers and then started on port tack. The tactic worked, for at the first mark he held a small lead from Hale and Linsley, with 'the pack' not far behind. Then followed some close and thoughtful racing, with the leading positions never safe from attack by competitors or the variability of the breeze. Around the last mark Hale was just centimeters from Mcphee's transom, but the South Australian's covered closely on the short work to the finish to claim their first win. Nicholas overtook Linsley in the final meters of the race to finish third, but when it was announced that he was OCS at the start, and Hale had crossed the finish line prematurely, Linsley was awarded second place and the Douglass' third. Silver division winners were Derek Hadwen and David Hardy (2588).

Being the 'champagne class', after each race competitors gathered with glasses to drink the wine and taste some cheese. At this time the all important sponsors responsible for the success of the Championship were repeatedly hailed as mini prizes were awarded on the results of a barrel-draw. Health Care of Australia, the principal sponsor, featured prominently, but the NRMA, Ronstan and Goodgear Clothing also earned the appreciation of the competitors, organizers, families and friends.

On the Monday evening a meeting of people interested in sailing in the 2001 Tasar International Championship in Whitstable was chaired by Ian Guanaria. Fourty-four individuals representing approximately 26 boats attended, boding well for a strong Australian representation. The meeting's purpose of starting a list for communication purposes was achieved. Others interested in being added to that list should contact Ian (


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Tuesday, January 11
The long race on Tuesday morning (Race 5) was sailed in slightly stronger breezes, averaging 14 kts, and still in the same SE direction. The fleet started on the first attempt, although a pin-end bias caused problems that resulted in an OCS. The first beat was tricky to pick, but by hitting the left-hand corner Peter Hibberd and Nicole Kidman reached the windward mark with a lead that they held for the first triangle. On the second lap Nicholas took the lead, with Linsley just behind. The Darwin boys maintained that position throughout, but towards the end of the race Linsley was overtaken first by Mcphee, then by Darby and Douglass. Darby and Douglass had a keen duel up the final leg, with Darby holding-on for third place. Many red flags were displayed during the race but resulted in just one completed protest. In the Silver division the Hannas won again.

That afternoon Draytons, a Hunter Valley winery, presented a tasting of their approximately thirteen different white, red and fortified products. For Luke Owen the occasion was particularly special, as he celebrated his eighteenth birthday, with more than a little help from his pals.

Wednesday, January 12

Stronger winds, still from the SE, faced competitors for the two short races on Wednesday afternoon. They allowed the leading bunch to sail clear of the rest of the fleet, and resulted in a different pair of winners. During the first race, breezes of between 18-22 kts favored both the heavier crews and those experienced in such conditions. Mcphee and Hale were both quick, and the Brethertons made steady gains through the group. The finishing order was Mcphee, Nicholas and Bretherton in the Gold Division, with Hadwen beating Ray Hale and Sean Hackett (1929) in the Silver.

For the second race the average wind strength reduced by a couple of knots. In the final minute before the start of the second race the wind oscillated to the East, making the pin end difficult to fetch. Darby spotted the change early, ensuring what would have been a perfect start had his mainsheet not run free on the all-important tack onto port. By the first mark the 'Darwin boys' had the lead, but only just from Mcphee and Linsley. On the run the fleet closed, so that racing was close on the subsequent beat. Linsley caught the best shifts and opened a good lead at the windward mark. Thereafter he was challenged by Nicholas and the Brethertons, but held on to take his first win of the series, with Nicholas beating the Victorians for second place. The drama was not limited to the water though, for that evening a protest hearing took place between Mcphee and Nicholas, with the latter being disqualified. Silver Division winner was, for the third time, Hadwen, with a strong 9th place.

At least equally dramatic was the evening's "T" Night social, for which appropriate fancy dress was desired. The imagination and ingenuity displayed was commendable, with star efforts from the Howe family's 'T'itanic theme (complete with iceberg), the 'T'hree Musketeers, a mini-'T'arantula and a simple but effective pair of 'T'est...les!

Thursday, January 13

Two more short races were sailed on the regatta's penultimate day, with the wind remaining in the SE around 14-18 kts. A big shift to the left of the course again favored those that started at the pin end of the line. Nicholas rounded the windward mark first, with Linsley close behind. The downwind leg closed the fleet, and on the second windward leg the leaders remained close. Around the top mark Nicholas led narrowly from Mcphee and Linsley. Mcphee overtook to leeward and Linsley to weather, and the two then opened a large lead before finishing in that order. However, both Linsley and Nicholas were OCS at the start, so the final finishing result was Mcphee, Hale and Darby, with Hadwen winning the Silver Division.

The day's second race started cleanly, with Darby picking the shifts to establish a lead which was never to be seriously challenged. Behind him some of the proven boats had to battle their way through the fleet, but Hale did just that to take second place, as did Nicholas to finish third. Within the Silver Division Frank Bethwaite sailed well to finish 15th overall and almost win, but was narrowly beaten by the Hannas, who were 12th.

With one race to sail Australia was to have a new Tasar champion. Ben Nicholas and Tom Winter's three penalties had effectively taken them from contention. Consistent results at the top of the fleet meant that Craig Mcphee and Kevin Kellow could not be beaten. A significant contest was still to be had for second place, with Darby and Linsley on equal points, seven clear of - but not unbeatable by Hale. At the top of the Silver Division Hadwen was holding a just two points clear of Hanna, and so another interesting encounter was imminent.

An auction of sponsor's gifts was held that evening, well sustained by copious amounts of port and chocolate. A splendidly attired Richard Furneaux of Wannabees (substituting for Southeby's), ably assisted by glamorous gals Emily and Samantha, auctioned a new jib (thanks to Starboard Products) and other sails, a weekend houseboat charter (thanks to Luxury Afloat) and numerous other bits and pieces (thanks to Ace Trailers, Fred Williams Water Sports, Ford Communications and Rafferty's Resort. It was entertaining, fun, and rewarding!
Friday, January 14
More SE winds of between 10-14 kts and more oscillations faced the fleet for the last race of the series. On the first leg a rain squall drenched the fleet and favored boats that had chosen the right-hand side of the course. Nicholas rounded first, in front of Andrew Parkinson and Bronwyn Milgate (2133), and Hale. The following reaches were long, and the offshore gusts enabled places to be gained or lost. Darby was in what seemed a safe fourth position, but Linsley caught-up by the end of the run, and then passed him going up-wind. Racing at the front of the fleet was intense, with opportunities/threats continually arising in the variable conditions. But time was running-out, so that the race was shortened to miss the final run/beat. Hale won, with Nicholas second, Brown third and Linsley fourth. Victors of the Silver Division were Andrew Parkinson and Bronwyn Milgate (2133), who finished in eleventh place.

The Championship prize-giving was held at Rafferty's, a luxury resort on the east side of the lake. The food was splendid, and the formal activities, ably conducted under the guidance of Richard Day took place with heaps of good-humored crowd involvement.

All the many individuals and sponsors that contributed to the success of the event were given the praise and appreciation sincerely felt by the whole group. Above all, the work of Chris and Beryl Parkinson - as chief coordinators, organisers and also competitors - was applauded and honored.

The winners of Tasar 2000, the first Australian Tasar Championship of the new millenium are as follows:

Prize Winners

Juniors Skipper 'Scrooge U 2', Damian Gough Luke Owen (12th), NT

Lady Skipper 'Screaming Green Lizards', Helen Gannan & Hugh Bekkers (23rd), QLD/NT

Grand Masters 2581, 'Afternoon Delight', Ian Guanaria & Trish McVeagh, (9th),NSW
Masters 2608, 'True Blue, Rob & Pam Gilpin, (13rd), VIC

Silver Fleet
1st, 2583, 'Shaken Not Stirred'Graham & Nicole Hanna (19th), NSW
2nd, 2588, 'One Crowded Hour', Derek Hadwen & David Hardy (20th), NSW
3rd, 1929, 'Ace 2', Ray Hale & Sean Hackett, (22nd), VIC/SA

Australian Championship 2000
1st, 2666, 'More Small Things', Craig Mcphee & Kevin Kellow (SA)
2nd, 2604, 'Coco', Martin Linsley & Nick Grey, (Aus Def Fce)
3rd, 170, 'Ultralite', Phil Darby & Ben Howe, (NSW)

Thus ended Tasar 2000. Competitors packed their gear thinking, perhaps, of their next major championships: the nationals in Darwin (8-15 Jul 00), the next World Championship in Whitstable (July 01) or possibly the 01-02 nationals in South Australia. Not only was the sailing excellent, but the company and social interaction was superb. In all, a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable regatta.
Martin Linsley