As one continent’s season closes another one opens as ever, in our Worldwide ‘A’ Class family. The AUS, NZL and ARG sailors are getting full into their seasons, whereas the USA and CAN migrate South for the winter, the European sailors all return to their caves, fortified with berries and nuts, wondering if their boats are thinking about them as much too, and awaiting the arrival of Spring when they can emerge, blinking into the sunlight again.
2018 was unique in the fact that one sailor actually managed to become his countries National Champion twice. And this was the least of his achievements this year.
The year usually always starts with the AUS Nationals. The AUS Nats 1.0, as we shall call them, was held on Lake Macquarie, just North of Sidney. Over 12 races, Glenn Ashby finally overcame a strongchallenge from Stevie Brewin, who was leading the series until the final day, to clinch the silverware, and with Steve Brayshaw stealing third from Nathan Outerridge in the final race and by a single vital point. In the Classics, Scott Anderson topped the podium ahead of Chris Cairns and Leon McNeil.
A few weeks later in Feburary, over the Tasman Sea at the Wakatere Boat Club NZL, the Kiwis saw Dave Shaw victorious in the 4 day, 10 race series, sailed in some fruity and tough conditions which saw him break a mast on the 3rdday. Daniel Philpott was happy to get Silver, with Steven Ashley, on his classic, getting a third.
March saw the launch of the New DNA F1x, an upgraded version of the ground breaking design of 2017. Everyone was keen to see it sail in anger later in the year.
April was a quiet month for National events, with only the Easter Cup on Garda taking place and seeing Michal Korneszczuk (POL) victorious over Roeland Wentholt (NED) and Ritger Krijger (NED). Micha Heemskerk (NED) was 4thon the New F1x after tangling with another racer during the 5 race series.
At the beginning of May, at Schwerin with the beautiful 16th century castle as a backdrop, the GER nationals were held, with Thomas Paasch (DEN) winning the regatta and Roeland in second. Mathias Dietz finished 3rd in a succession of light wind races over 2 days, and was thus crowned GER Champion. Later in the month, Thomas then became the DEN champion also, as he dominated with straight bullets in the 11 race series at Kerteminde near Odense. Christian Nygaard and Tom Bojland tried hard to catch, but finished 2ndand 3rd.
June saw the popular Spring Cup at Lake Garda again. Sandro Caviziel (SUI) managed to cling onto his early lead as Mischa was finding his feet with his new boat setup. Sandro won despite Mischa getting 4 bullets at the end, with Emmanuel Dode (FRA) getting third.
Also in June, the GBR nationals was won by Adam May, ahead of Paul Larsen in the event held to test the venue of the 2019 GBR Worlds at the Weymouth & Portland Nationals Sailing Academy. The venue proved to be a foiling nirvana. Struan Wallace became GBR Classic Champ on his Scheurer G6, the boat that was to be totally obliterated later in the year when he was rear-ended whilst parked overnight in a lay-by, an incident from which Struan was fortunate to escape largely uninjured.
It all goes quiet in July as everyone looks toward the European Championships at Warnemunde in August. We get a Euros every other year in this class, and it is usually pretty well packed by the great and the good. This year was no different. However, due to restrictions in numbers placed on the DACA committee by the Warnemunde Week regatta organisers, it was restricted to 100 boats. This meant that associations had to ration places and had to impose a selection process, usually dependant on their sailors’ national ranking positions. However, the unfortunate side-effect was that this penalised the Classics, as they tended not to be at the top when all boat fleets were combined together. As a result, far fewer Classics took part.
The event was also compromised by the inflexible race officers who insisted on holding races on the far away race area even after fleets who were using nearer race areas had gone home. This meant that only 5 races were held all week when the first day was blown off and the Thursday was windless.
In the racing, Glenn again dominated with exceptional pace but with Manuel Calavia (ESP) battling Maciej Zarnowski (POL) for the European Champion title. Manuel won out in the final 5thrace. Another Polish sailor, Marek Zebrowski became the Classic Euro Champion.
The last race day saw everyone sent all the way out to the race area only to be sent back home after the wind in the area breached class upper limits. The championship was declared ended as the minimum number had been sailed but as the PRO’s decision was final, the beautiful afternoon and the official spare next day were not used. Lessons learned and the beleaguered DACA team were blameless.
September arrived with a flurry of simultaneous championships. The Polish pair of Maciej and Marek won the Foiling and Classic divisions of the POL Nationals at Sopot. A few hundred miles West, Phil Muyzers won the BEL Nationals at the light wind venue of Eau D'heure lake in his Classic Flyer. Not to miss out, a few more hundred miles South, at Centro Vela Sunset, Calambrone, Paulo Penco and Manuel Vaccari became the ITA National Champions. And finally, also on the same weekend, but several hundred miles further West again, Manuel kept up his winning form to become the ESP Champion in Vigo’s Champaign sailing conditions. Meanwhile, over in the USA, Bruce Mahoney and Woody Cope became the US Foiling and Classic Champions across from New York on Sandy Hook Bay, New Jersey.
The final National Championships of the year was the FRA. This was a well attended event, with some 8 different nationalities represented, and many names who would usually be seen at a Worlds but didn’t go this year, made it their last regatta of the season. FRA Moth hotshot Benoit Marie convincingly won the Foiling division and Micky Todd led the Classics, with Albert Roturier behind to become the FRA Classic Champion.
Next stop – Hervey Bay.
The most beautiful people of the International A Class world descended on this rather sleepy part of Australia, some 180 miles North of Brisbane. They were not to be disappointed as the golden sands and efficient organisation of the locals and the AUS Association worked it like clockwork. The opening week saw the AUS Nats 2.0 being held as a sort of warm up event. This was how Glenn became the AUS National Champion again this year. However, Andrew Landenberger somewhat scuppered Scotty’s hopes for the same unique title in the Classics on his new Classic version of the Exploder Ad3.
Then, with a couple of days rest, it was straight onto the season finale of the Worlds. In between times, the ETNZ riders of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who were alongside Glenn, all decided to change their rudders for a new larger span bottom foil version made especially for them by Exploder. It seemed to do the trick, although Mischa was determined to spoil the ETNZ lockout and having found his form again after a rather lacklustre Europeans performance. A couple of days were lost due to weather conditions but the race committee still managed to get 9 good races in. The results of both fleets were not really in doubt. The Nationals had shown the form of the top riders. However, with only a 5 point lead from Mischa, Glenn still needed to get good results on the final day. In the end he won by 9 points from Mischa, with 5 bullets. Peter made up the last podium place ahead of Blair on the Foiling Division. Over on the Classics, Landy had a more comfortable job with his 8 bullets over Scotty, and Graeme Parker made it into 3rd.
Thus endeth the year of 2018. For many it was a frustrating one again, with the weather making problems for race officers with either too much or too little. Many regattas were unable to complete their planned race numbers due these issues.
As far as boat development goes, it does look as though the arms race of the last couple of years has settled down as far as platforms go. Most of the work now seems to be done with the sail design and tweaking of the foil shapes. We have seen a definite resurgence in the Classic Division and now that Exploder are producing a Classic variant of their Ad3, with DNA also promising a ‘detuned’ version of the F1, it looks like that direction is set to continue and probably even expand as ‘sailors of a certain age’ rediscover the joys of the ‘A’ Cat without having to learn new circus skills any more. It certainly worked for Landy, although he has to keep a close eye on his son Andy, as he will undoubtedly become a champion in the future - you heard it here first!
Now we are all looking toward the sunlit uplands that will be 2019 and particularly to the Worlds at the Weymouth and Portland in GBR next August. So, on behalf of IACA, I wish you all a very happy New Year and hope we all get the winds we are looking for!
All the best for 2019, whatever it brings and thanks for all your support and help throughout this year! Please keep your reports and articles pouring in!