Daily Reports by Jonny Fullerton
Two Bullets for Vials & Turner on Day 1
76 Flying Fifteens from 6 countries left Fremantle Sailing Club for the first two races of the 2023 Flying Fifteen World Championship held off Fremantle under cloudless skies. It was Fremantle back to its best offering up race 1 in a SW sea breeze starting at around 12 knots and increasing during the afternoon to a feisty 16 knots with a building chop making the downwind legs a real pleasure to sail.
The PRO Kevin Wilson set Course 1 for the first race of the series. A windward/leeward followed by a triangle to give the fleet an opportunity for some screaming reaches and some entertainment for a building fleet of spectators enjoying the weekend watching the action at the wing mark. Under U flag the start only caught out one boat. At the top the familiar blue kite of current world champions Graham Vials and Chris Turner (GBR) popped a good distance from the rest of the fleet. A flurry of Australian and British boats followed downwind including Ian Pinnell and Ian Cadwallader (GBR), Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan (AUS), Hamish Mackay and Andrew Lawson (GBR) and Charles and Charlie Apthorp (GBR).
By lap 2 on the reach to the wing mark Vials and Turner had opened up an unassailable lead leaving Pinnell / Cadwallader and Jerwood / Sheridan to fight for second and third place. The Australians pulled through to take second leaving Pinnell / Cadwallader in third. The Scots Mackay / Lawson crossed fourth and an excellent fifth for Michael Wilson and Peter Greenhalgh (GBR).
During the break the wind increased a notch to a steady 15 - 16 knots along with the short chop wich made for some glamour downwind surfing. A lot of dolphins were spotted out on course dancing off the bows of the fifteens in the waves.
Course 6 was signalled for race 2, which was two windward / leeward legs of 1.5nm in length followed by a final beat to the finish. After a clear start the majority of the fleet seemed to prefer the left hand side (shoreside) of the upwind leg. Yet again it was the sail number we are getting used to seeing at the turn (GBR4071) Vials and Turner with a handy lead.
This time it was Australians Philippa Packer and Dean McAullay (RFBYC) who had a peach of a start at the committee boat end and rounded with the Irish crew John Lavery and Alan Green (National YC) in close pursuit. Maybe it was off the back of the Paddy’s day celebrations the day before but the Irishman were on fire. These three boats had clear water behind them to the chasing fleet.
On lap two Vials / Turner again stretched their lead but the chase for second was a lot closer. Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan (SoPYC/FSC) closed in on Packer / McAullay whilst local Australians Grant Alderson and Luke Paterson (RFBYC) were also on the move.
On the final work to the finish Vials / Turner from Derwent Reservoir SC/Lyme Regis SC in the UK were out of sight to finish the opening day with two bullets.
Jerwood / Sheridan finished the day with two second’s and third this time was Packer / McAullay. Lavery / Green (IRL) scored an impressive 8th.
So after day one of the Worlds it is shaping up to be a bit of an ‘Ashes’ battle between GBR and AUS occupying the top 9 places overall. The Irish crew sit in 10th overall.
Vials & Turner extend their lead on Day 2
It was a long day on the water for the fleet of 76 Flying Fifteens competing at the World Championships off Fremantle on day two of the regatta. A new day and a new wind direction meant an earlier start time of 1200 noon. However the early morning Easterly breeze was always due to dye out and the sea breeze fill in the afternoon. The question was when would the change happen?
The PRO Kevin Wilson managed to get race 3 going on the second attempt after one general recall. A new course axis and a new course, a straight forward 2 lap windward/leeward with a distance of 1.3nm legs. Race 3 started in a gentle 10 knots from 90 degrees.
Another upwind leg with huge separation but the team who read the tricky conditions best was local WA Olympic sailors Lachy Gilmour and Ryan Donaldson (RFBYC/EBYC). The young West Australians led round mark one and down to the gate holding off the British crew of Ian Pinnell and Ian Cadwallader with Irelands John Lavery and Alan Green from Dublin again in the top three.
The whole fleet had to endure the shifty breeze off the land which meant a lot of tacking and searching for pressure. This time the leaders sailed more up the middle of the course. At the windward mark second time around Gilmour / Donaldson just held their lead from Pinnell / Cadwallader but gradually picking their way through the lead bunch was none other than the four time world champions Graham Vials and Chris Turner (GBR).
The last downwind leg to the finish was stressful when the soft breeze began to fade and the leaders were approaching the final gate mark rounding from both gybes. It was going to be a very close rounding but Gilmour / Donaldson just squeezed round to finish only a couple of boat lengths from Hamish Mackay and Andrew Lawson (GBR) who cruised in from the other gybe. Vials / Turner also gained buoy room at the last moment to cross third. Rod Beurteaux and Simon Wilder (SoPYC / EFYC) finished an excellent fourth and another South of Perth YC boat Greg Tonnison and Nick Robinson an impressive fifth.
The breeze shut down completely and the whole fleet had to sit in the warm sunshine for what seemed like hours but the race committee were rewarded for their patience when a soft sea breeze started to waft in from the South. Finally in the late afternoon sunshine race 4 of the Worlds got started at 1515hrs. A two lap race with one windward / leeward followed by a triangle in a 6 - 10 knot southerly.
It wasn’t rocket science to work out the leader at the top, the familiar faces of Graham Vials and Chris Turner (GBR). Places 2 - 5 were however still up for grabs. Around the second lap as the fleet had really separated, Pinnell / Cadwallader (GBR) and Jerwood / Sheridan (AUS) contested for the podium.
Vials / Turner made it 3 wins in 4 races to take a comfortable lead in the championship. Pinnell / Cadwallader crossed second and Jerwood / Sheridan third. Beurteaux / Wilder came in another 4th to jump into the top ten overall in the rankings. Another steady day for the Irishmen Lavery / Green moving up to 7th overall.
An early start is scheduled for the third day of racing with a start time of 0900 hrs to hopefully take a chance on the early Easterly breeze. The fleet enjoyed a real treat of a Wagyu beef BBQ served on the sundeck, supplied by legendary Western Australian Match Racing guru Peter Gilmour and his family including his son
Lachy, the race winner of the first race of the day.
It was an early start for the fleet on day 3 of the 2023 Flying Fifteen World Championship held on another hot and sunny day off the coast of Fremantle. The forecast of an early Easterly which was due to shut down by lunchtime forced the PRO Kevin Wilson to set an early start time of 0905 hrs. As it turned out it was a wise decision as two windward / leeward races were completed just before the wind died.
Race 5 of the championship started at the second attempt in a shifty 10 - 11 knots off the land. With such large separation it was almost impossible to predict which boat would get to the top mark in the lead. As it turned out it was race 3 winners Lachy Gilmour and Ryan Donaldson (AUS) who briefly led from Ian Pinnell and Ian Cadwallader (GBR) and Grant Alderson and Luke Paterson.(AUS). The downwind was quite a slog in the faint breeze. Places remained the same for the top three but Graham Vials and Chris Turner (GBR) were sniffing at the sterns in front of them.
On the second lap Gilmour / Donaldson dropped back whilst Michael Wilson and Peter Greenhalgh from the Isle of Man YC in the UK and Philippa Packer and Dean McAullay (AUS) pounced. Both turned the port gate mark for the short sprint to the finish. The British crew just got past with a little squirt of pressure just boat lengths from the line to take second. Sadly for Philippa and Dean they were shown on the board on the back of the committee boat as UFD so unable to count their result. Another local boat from Royal Freshwater Bay YC, David Yu and Chris Nelson snuck through the lead bunch to grab fourth, easily their best result of this world championship.
Race 6 of the championship had to wait a short while because the Easterly looked to be fading but again the patience of the RO paid off. A quick course alteration and off we went again with another windward / leeward course. This time the breeze was beginning to struggle and the shifts seem to be getting bigger.
After the start it was again very difficult to predict the front boats with an enormous separation across the fleet. So much so that a complete new set of boats led on the first lap. Bill Chard and Josh Preater from Chew Valley Lake SC in the UK led from Kim Peaker and Neil White from South of Perth YC and light wind specialists Andrew and Anne Knowles from the same club.
By the gate on the first lap Philippa Packer and Dean McAullay (RFBYC) were making amends for their last race U flag by taking the lead as the breeze again threatened to collapse. Much to their delight the course was shortened at the top of the windward leg to enable the pair from the organising club to take their first winning gun of this world championship.
Bill Chard and Josh Preater finished an awesome second and third went to the Knowles family. Current regatta leaders Vials and Turner climbed back up to fourth and Kim Peaker and Neil White a regatta best fifth place. Other notable performances include Craig and Ian Rainey from Gippsland Lakes YC in Victoria finishing 8th. Several of the top 10 boats in the rankings were deep in the fleet thus counting as their first discarded result.
So after 6 races of a total of 12 races, one discard comes into play. Graham Vials and Chris Turner (GBR) lead on 10 points net from the two Ian’s, Pinnell and Cadwallader (GBR) on 19 points and Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan (AUS) also on 19 points.
Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan close the gap on Day 4
Just one race today on yet another hot late summer day in Fremantle as the regatta passes the halfway point. The fleet was held ashore for a few hours until a soft sea breeze perked up about midday. Race 7 begun in 7 - 11 knots from the SW. A course 6 was set which consisted of two windward / leeward legs followed by a beat to the finish. The race was started under black flag after one general recall.
It has become usual that the fleet are spread over a massive distance after only half the 1.3nm upwind leg has been sailed. At one point the right looked good then the trusty left looked good and just sometimes tacking on the shifts up the middle seems to pay. On this occasion new faces appeared first at the top mark, a British crew Terry Scutcher and Chris Hewkin representing Dubai Offshore SC and Burton/Shotley. They were followed by Graham Vials and Chris Turner (GBR) and more new faces in the kiwi crew of Wayne Avery and Ross Bannan from Manly SC in Auckland.
Pressure was a bit weak on the run back down to the gate but this was were the leaders split, two went right and two went left with Lachy Gilmour and Ryan Donaldson (AUS) playing the middle. The left seemed to pay dividends with a new leader at the windward mark. Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan (AUS) rounded clear of Scutcher and Hewkin with Gilmour and Donaldson moving up to third.
Another long run with the big fleet split on each gybe. Places remained the same at the bottom gate with one more upwind to sail to the finish. By now it was Jerwood / Sheridan’s job to put a loose cover on the leaders to claim their first regatta win of the series. Scutcher and Hewkin were just able to defend second with Gilmour and Donaldson in third. Vials / Turner finished fourth and Grant Alderson and Luke Paterson (AUS) in fifth.
The kiwi crew Avery / Bannan did a great job to finish 7th, their best result of the championship. Both the Irish crew Lavery / Green and South African’s Campbell Alexander and Ralph Thomas were the unlucky recipients of the black flag dropping down the overall leaderboard.
As the championship goes past the half way mark after 7 races with 1 discard, Vials / Turner remain in the lead overall but the gap is closing to second placed Jerwood / Sheridan. The other GBR boat Ian Pinnell and Ian Cadwallader remain third overall.
Two leaders edging away from the rest of the fleet
on Day 5
After an epic lay day where the vast majority of the fleet of 150 competitors took a boat trip to Rotto (Rottnest Island) 19 nm off Fremantle for a mass raft up of power vessel’s loaded to the gunnels with booze and food and a massive lunch at the pub, a day that will be remembered for a long time. Today we got back to the business of the Flying Fifteen World Championship.
Two more races held in light to moderate conditions produced similar results with the first two boats edging ahead of the rest of the fleet. Graham Vials and Chris Turner (GBR) won both races just ahead of Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan (AUS) (2/2). Both crews are putting a bit of daylight between themselves and the rest of the fleet.
Race 8 begun just after noon in a light 9 - 10 knot breeze from SW direction. Again the windward / leeward course of 2 laps was chosen. After the usual huge separation across the course, the usual suspects came into view at the top mark.
Vials and Turner rounded in front of Jerwood and Sheridan with a newcomer to the front of the fleet in the crew from Durban in South Africa, Campbell Alexander and Ralph Thomas (RNYC/PYC). By the turn at the gate the top two remained the same but Charles and Charlie Apthorp (GBR) and Andrew and Anne Knowles (AUS) entered the frame.
One more upwind and the Knowles family from South of Perth YC challenged club mates Jerwood / Sheridan at the top mark rounding. On the long run back to the finish Vials / Turner held off the two Australians to take his fourth winning gun of the regatta. Jerwood / Sheridan collecting second and the Knowles family third. Working up to fourth was the steadily improving locals Lachy Gilmour and Ryan Donaldson from Royal Freshwater Bay YC. The Apthorp family claimed their best result of the regatta with fifth.
A short turn around and race 9 started with a course 6, two windward / leeward legs followed by a beat to the finish, under very similar conditions 8 - 11 knots from a bearing of 240 degrees. For the first lap it was the same story, Vials / Turner just in front of Jerwood / Sheridan but the fight for placings 3 - 6 still a good bun fight.
Another South of Perth boat sailed by the Dunbar brothers Mike and Paul, were fighting it out with some regular top 6 boats, Ian Pinnell and Ian Cadwallader (GBR) and Gilmour / Donaldson (AUS). The first two boats remained the same but the fight for third remained tight until the last 100 meters to the finish line. A couple of cover tacks and the Dunbars crossed third, their best result of the regatta.
After 9 races have been sailed the second discard comes into play so there has been a bit of movement in the overall results. Graham Vials and Chris Turner remain in front with a points gap of 6 points from Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan. The British pair have however now racked up 5 race wins in the series.
Ian Pinnell and Ian Cadwallader remain in third overall but only one point ahead of Lachy Gilmour and Ryan Donaldson who themselves move into fourth overall. The Scots, Hamish Mackay and Andrew Lawson occupy fifth.
We move into the penultimate day of the regatta with it looking like a two horse race for the title but with three more races to sail it is still in the balance. Races 10 and 11 are scheduled for a 12 noon start local time with a forecast of similar light to moderate breeze.
Vials and Turner win unprecedented fifth World Championship
After no sailing was possible on the penultimate day or the regatta only one race was sailed on the final day of the Flying Fifteen World Championship at Fremantle. With an unassailable lead Graham Vials and Chris Turner (GBR) won their unprecedented fifth World Championship in the class. Vials and Turner from Derwent Reservoir / Lyme Regis SC won 5 of the 10 world championship races and with drops of a 4th and 8th they could not be beaten.
The final race of the series was started at 1030 hrs on a sultry Saturday morning in a fading Easterly breeze which started at around 10 - 11 knots and by the end of the two lap windward / leeward course with a final upwind to the finish line, had dropped to a soft 6 knots.
Nick Jerwood and Brad Sheridan from South of Perth YC/Fremantle SC led the final race from start to finish extending on every leg. The Australian pair did everything possible to close the points gap on Floaty McFloat Face (Vials / Turner) but ended up just three points shy of the British boat.
Going into the last race the there was only one point difference between third and fourth place overall. The youngest crew in the fleet, ex Olympic sailors Lachy Gilmour and Ryan Donaldson from Royal Freshwater Bay YC / Esperance Bay YC had steadily improved throughout the regatta and again today had to work their way through the leading bunch to take second in the last race and secure an excellent third overall. Initially on the first lap of the course they trailed the British boat sailed by Ian Pinnell and Ian Cadwallader but a slow gate rounding gave the opportunity to get away to form a comfortable gap.
‘Nellie and Caddy’ (Pinnell and Cadwallader) from Northampton SC slipped to 6th in the final race which dropped them to 4th overall. Hamish Mackay and Andrew Lawson representing the Royal Thames YC maintained fifth overall.
In the final race of the series a couple of boats sailed outstandingly, Kim Peaker and Neill White (SoPYC) finished in third and Esperance Bay boat sailed by David Swan and Matt Elliot finished 4th their best result of the series.