2000 Teaming in Tasars

Teaming in Tasars

The 2000 Australian National Team Racing Championship

Over the weekend of 20-21 May many of Australia's top dinghy sailors congregated in Sydney for the 2000 Australian National Team Racing Championship.

The regatta used 19 of the Royal Australian Navy's red Tasar dinghies, each sporting a mainsail with a colored panel to indicate its membership of one of the six teams.

Between 1985-98 the RAN organised both the national team racing championship and feeder events in NSW and Victoria used to select state representative teams. For the past two years though, Grand Prix Sailing has undertaken the task with Navy being the primary sponsor.

As with last year's Championship, the two-day regatta was sailed from Sydney 's Balmoral Sailing Club. Entries were by invitation only, as the competition is limited to twelve teams. The aim is for each state/territory to send the best possible team it can. This year there were two teams each from Queensland and Tasmania; one each from Victoria, South Australia and the ACT, four from NSW, and the Navy team. Several teams were offshoots of the highly successful national schools team racing program, and most teams had national champions or Olympic triallists amongst them. The Royal Prince Alfred YC team included James Spithill - Australia's skipper at the recent Americas Cup competition in New Zealand.

Australia's Tasar racing fraternity was to be seen in a number of teams.  The ACT team was led by Bruce Paine (NSW Tasar Champion), Shane Guanaria and Stu Friezer sailed for NSW teams, while joining me and Nick Grey in the Navy team were Rick Longbottom and Jude Kennedy, and Wayne Hale with Steve Jones.

A round-robin format was used for the competition, so that each team sailed 11 matches, and a total of 56 races were completed. An M shaped course was used and, as the average length of each race was about 12 minutes, the legs of the course were short! Fortunately the weather conditions were favourable, enabling the program to be completed as planned. On the Saturday, light NW breezes of between 3-8 knots prevailed. Sunday's racing began in stronger breezes which then gradually decreased in strength as the day progressed.

Although we in the Navy team had multiple state and higher-level Tasar championship credits, we were conscious of our lack of recent practise in the highly tactical and combined skills of team racing. We were right to be! Boat handling and tactical skills proved far more important than boat speed. In our first set of five match races we won just one. Too often a single silly slip led to place-changes which couldn't be recouped. However, with stronger winds giving greater emphasis to boat handling for the second set our results improved, and a 2 win to 1 loss record achieved. This ratio was reversed in the final set of three matches though, with the result that the Navy teams finished with a 4-7 win-loss ratio and seventh place overall.

The intensity of team racing is such that with multiple matches being sailed it's difficult to keep track of how teams are faring. As the event progressed though, the large scoreboard in Balmoral SC showed that the best teams were consistently winning.

By late on Sunday afternoon, it was clear that the winning team was one assembled by Hugh Stodart, from Middle Harbour YC in Sydney. It won 10 of its 11 races. Second was the team from Royal Prince Alfred YC on a count back from Connells Point SC (both from NSW). Fourth was Queensland's Lucus Downs team, last year's equal winners who then represented Australia in the World Team Racing Championship in the USA.

The Championship is unique in Australia, and has a good reputation. The Tasar is probably the only class of dinghy in Australia (with the possible exception of the Pacer) suitable for it. Being one design, highly maneuverable, and easy to sail for people of average dimensions are the qualities which favour its use for team racing.

Team racing is high-octane competition! If ordinary racing has become a bit 'ho-hum' for you, why not try it out with a few of your Tasar sailing chums?

Good sailing,

Martin Linsley