Last weekend saw the running of the inaugural National Sailing League which was held out of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (RSYS) from the 25-28 April. This is the first time that the National Sailing League concept has reached Oceania shores and it certainly proved to be a great success. The concept, which is extremely popular in Europe, is an interclub fleet racing event which allows clubs to race against one another in a round robin format with five to six boats competing in each race.
This year’s event saw 14 teams in total competing from seven different Clubs from around Australia and New Zealand. Sandringham Yacht Club (SYC) was fortunate to be one of three clubs who had three teams representing their club. SYC’s teams consisted of two open teams (SYC intermediate members) and a women’s team.
SYC’s first open team consisted of James Sly on the helm with Ella Disney on main, Jordan Sunkel-Lozell on trim and Emma Schiesser on bow. SYC’s other open team (listed as a youth team in the results but didn’t quite meet the youth eligibility) consisted of Harrison Sly as skipper, Daisy Laing on main, Lawson Shaw on trim and Maddie Commins on bow. Our women’s team was ably helmed by dual Olympian Krystal Weir with Kirsty Harris on main, Kirsten Norris and Madeleine Linton on trim and Kate Goss on bow.
It was a steep learning curve on day one with all teams trying to familiarise themselves with the boats as quickly as possible with not much opportunity to do so before each race began. Racing right out the front of the RSYS, the conditions were extremely difficult on day one with large oscillations and pressure variances across the course. It really kept all sailors on their toes! SYC’s teams had some moments of brilliance with James Sly’s open team sneaking in a bullet in one race, but overall, it was evident that the three teams progressively improved as the day went on.
Day two saw more tricky conditions again but with the teams now a little more comfortable with their processes, this saw both our open teams stepping up a notch to post some bullets on the board and our women’s posting some seconds and thirds. The challenging conditions saw the outcome of some races being guided by luck but generally it was the eventual finalist teams who kept dominating throughout the day.
With five flights completed on the first day and six on the second, this left the final four flights to be sailed on Sunday ahead of the finals series. Looking at the scoreboard, there was a slim chance for any of our teams to make finals but if the cards fell right, it wasn’t mission impossible. The day started off well with nice conditions albeit still tricky conditions given the location of the racing area, but everyone was in the same boat. As the day continued, the breeze dropped as forecasted which saw some difficult racing for those facing the fading breeze.
Come the end of the qualifying series after 15 flights of racing, ironically SYC’s three teams finished in 9th, 10th and 11th. It was James Sly’s open team finishing in 9th ahead of younger brother Harrison’s team in 10th with our women’s team in 11th. Our women’s team also finished in 2nd place out of the four team women’s category. It was great to see the results improve over the three days as the teams gained a better understanding of the boats and became quicker in every race.
Each team had nothing but positive feedback for the National Sailing League which provided some great quality racing against some of the top clubs from Australia and New Zealand. The three SYC teams would like to thank SYC and the SYC Foundation for their assistance in making it possible to attend this fantastic event. Next year the National Sailing League is looking to build on the schedule which will only mean more opportunities for SYC members to get involved and take it from those who went, it’s something that would be strongly encouraged!
Full results: click here