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7 March 2004, 05:15 pm
Champions Crowned
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Sydney 38 In Action© Crosbie Lorimer

Joico Australian Offshore Championship

For three hours the fleets contesting the final day of the Championship, and the Joico Regatta, watched and waited as walls of rain-bearing clouds descended on them and the wind remained conspicuous by its absence.
Eventually the wind on the course area off Sydney's Palm Beach settled into the southeast at 10-15 knots and racing began on short windward-leeward courses. When it was all over two very worthy national champions were being recognised - Matt ALLEN with his Farr 52, Ichi Ban in the IRC Offshore Championship, and Cameron MILES along with Steve ROBSON with Rush in the hotly contested Sydney 38 series.

At the same time, in the Farr 40 division of the associated Joico Regatta, Richard PERINI firmed as favourite for next weekend's Australian Championship in that class by guiding Corinthian Doors to victory.

Ichi Ban left no doubt that it deserved the Offshore Championship by winning the final race on corrected time in impressive fashion while the overnight leader on points, Tony KIRBY'S Bavaria Match 38, Game Set, could only record a seventh. It was a result that saw Game Set just manage to hang onto third overall in a count back with the defending champion, Kevin WOOD'S Ticket of Leave, from Melbourne. Second overall in the championship went to Bob STEEL'S Quest, steered by Michael GREEN, it finished second to Ichi Ban in the final race. Ichi Ban finished with a score of 1,1,2,3,9,2,3,2,1

"What a relief," was Matt Allen's comment when he returned to the dock at Pittwater's Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club. "We thought we might have blown our chances when we did so badly in the long race, finishing ninth and being required to carry that place in the points tally. But today the crew responded to the pressure and we've come up a winner."

As defending champions in the Sydney 38s, Cameron MILES and Steve ROBSON could have been excused for feeling a bit of pressure. While they went into the final day leading on points they were not assured of victory. Victoria's 76-year-old sailing legend Lou ABRAHAMS had a remote chance of winning with Another Challenge, as did Leon CHRISTIANAKIS'S Cydon.

But the local sailors put the outcome beyond doubt by sailing Rush to first place in the first of today's two races by the biggest winning margin seen in the series. That meant they didn't need to start in the final race, so the took the opportunity to relax and watch from the sideline.

In winning the championship Rush levelled the score with Another Challenge, which had also taken the national title twice. Miles, who steered Rush, paid great credit to the two young women sailing with him, Katie DOWNING, who ran the bow, and Katie SPITHILL, sister of America's Cup class sailor James, who did the tactics.

"Our secret was to sail towards the clouds on the upwind legs in search of better pressure today, and it worked," said Miles. "Everything just fell into place after that."

An eighth in the final race was enough to give second overall to Another Challenge by a comfortable margin on points. It was a different story for Cydon, which had been the star performer in the early races of the championship. Christianakis had a battle with Justin LAMBETH'S London Tavern and eventually scraped into third on a count back.

In the PHS division of the Joico Australian Offshore Championship Peter HAYES' High Anxiety, representing the host club, was the winner from Victorian entry Veloce (Phil SIMPFONDORFER) and Gusto (Colin WELLS).

In the weekend's annual Joico Regatta Breakout (Geoffrey COUELL) won both the IRC and PHS divisions, Obsession (Cook/Jackson) won the 11-Metre One-Designs, and Jester (Dave & Zorna BULL) won the Sydney 32s.

Full results are available on the event website at the address below.
Rob Mundle (As Amended By ISAF News Editor)
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