McCrae Yacht Club, Victoria, Australia.
17th -21st April 2003
Chief Container Service
The scene was set for a very exciting showdown for the 2003 Chief Container Service Paper Tiger Catamaran International Championships. Numerous current and former champions were included in the fleet, along with a group of young hotshots on the rise, keen to dethrone the existing champions. High on the favourites list was the defending International Champion, Australia's Ben Deed, who has won the event the last three times it has been held, as well as two Australian Championships along the way. Could Deed become only the third person to win the event four times since its inception in 1975?
One of the two four-time winners, Peter Anderson, also of Victoria, was in the fleet and keen to do well after updating his boat recently. However, most people considered his 23 year old son, Bryan, to be more of a threat. Bryan won the recent Australian Championships from Deed on a count-back, so both were out to prove a point. With the event being held at the Andersons' home club, many rated them a good chance.
Bryan had finished third in the Victorian State Championships in mid-March and then had set out the next day on an amazing journey. He and his friend, James Boyd, spent the next three weeks paddling their home built sea kayaks across Bass Strait, island hopping from Wilson's Promontory to Cape Portland. The kayaks saw the water for the first time two days before they left, in Bryan's parent's swimming pool! Two weeks after completing this marathon expedition, he was rigging his Paper Tiger for these International Championships!
There were numerous other people ready and able to upset the balance of power at the Internationals, with a particularly high quality fleet assembled, despite the late withdrawal of 2001 Australian Champion, Neal Schneider from NSW. Current (and seven time) New Zealand Champion, John Thomson, was definitely a threat, as were a number of his fellow team members, which included former NZ Champion, Ian Maclennan, current North Island Champion, Dave Kennett, and current South Island Champion, Chris Heywood. The Kiwis were keen for a team win, having last won the Team's Trophy in 1998. They were even more focused on providing an overall winner, as the last time a Kiwi had won was back in 1981.
Former Australian Champions Drew Helmore (Victoria) and Tasmanian Bruce Rose were considered contenders, as was 21 year old Mark Wiggins (Victoria), who placed third in this year's Australian Championships, just two points behind the top two!
The Internationals are held two years out of every three, alternating between Australia and New Zealand, and feature tight competition between two teams of ten boats from both countries, who vie for the champion team trophy. They also compete for the overall title of International Champion, along with a number of other invited competitors. This year's event featured 42 boats and was hosted by McCrae Yacht Club in Victoria, Australia. The club has had a long association with the Paper Tiger Catamaran class and previously hosted the event in 1994.
The two national teams were selected from the results of each country's recent National Championships. The rest of the skippers were invited to compete based on results at the Nationals, State Titles, and the National Ranking System. There were many other Paper Tiger sailors keen to compete, especially from the very strong fleet at the host club. However, the selection process the class uses gives the event a high quality and manageable sized fleet, while also encouraging strong competition for selection to the event. This qualification process, along with the experience of travelling overseas as part of a team and the high standard of competition experienced, puts sailors in good stead if they move into International or Olympic classes. This, coupled with the fact that they are an excellent and fun boat to sail, is part of the reason for the continued popularity of the Paper Tiger Catamaran.
This year's event was very generously sponsored by Chief Container Service, who transported the boats to and from New Zealand. Many other sponsors chipped in to make this a top line event that was very well run both afloat and ashore. One part of that excellent organisation was Simon McKeon, current World Sailing Speed Record holder and former Little America's Cup winning helmsman in the C-class catamarans. Simon was heavily involved in course setting and race management, while also looking on as a very interested father, as his two sons were competing – Richard as a member of the Australian Team; Oliver as an invited competitor.
With such an excellent line up of top competitors, it just remained for the weather to do its thing. Unfortunately, it didn't really play the game. A massive high pressure system parked itself over Melbourne and turned out to be the slowest moving high pressure system Victoria had experienced in ten years! Perfect for those left on the beach, but providing some frustration for many of the competitors and also those running the racing."Trade Facilitators" Heat 1
"Ronstan" Heat 2
The second heat was sailed in the afternoon of the same day, with the breeze easing slightly to around 10 knots, dropping further towards the end of the race. Bryan Anderson, obviously enjoying the conditions on his home track, established a lead from the start. Mike Wold, showing a return to form, featured early in the race, but dropped back towards the end. Bryan went on to win again, this time by 10 sec, from Drew Helmore. Once again, a top-two breakaway occurred, with third place going to Mark Wiggins, and the top placed Kiwi, Dave Kennett, in fourth. Ben Deed had a shocker, breaking his tiller cross-bar early on and having to sail with one rudder the whole way around. He also opened up his mast track at the boom, hampering his ability to fully power the boat up on the reaches. However, to his credit, he still managed to place 16th in the race.
"Access Hire" Heat 3
The second day of racing wasn't as generous with the wind. The third heat started in around eight knots, but this dropped as the race progressed. The two National Champions, Bryan Anderson and John Thomson, showed their mettle and established a significant break on the rest of the fleet. However, after they rounded the bottom mark for the second time and sailed off on a similar breeze to the previous beat, the rest of the fleet enjoyed a swing of around 90 degrees from the East to the North. Thomson decided to cut his losses and tacked back toward the fleet, while Anderson stuck to his guns and continued on the same course. At the next mark, both had lost considerable ground and places. After an eventual change of course, the race was shortened. Dave Kennett and fellow-Kiwi Glenn Syman made the most of the conditions, with Kennett posting an 8 sec win over Syman. Incredibly, Anderson and Thomson both recovered well, crossing in third and fourth respectively, just 2 sec apart. Chris Heywood was next, giving the Kiwis four out of the top five and a hint of more to come. They were followed by Deed, Helmore and Rose.
The breeze continued to drop out and the club held the sailors on the shore after the lunch break, waiting for suitable breeze. It didn't arrive and eventually racing was called off for the day.
"The Yacht Shop" Heat 4
Sunday looked no more promising than the previous day. There was an Easterly of about five knots on the course, but it was thought that this would drop out before the end of the race. From the start, most of the fleet headed right, towards the shore. Half way up the beat, the shifts in the breeze became bigger and many places changed in short distances. Just before the fleet got to the top mark, there was a 20 degree swing to the North. As the course was changed to suit, the breeze continued to drop and became even more patchy. After one lap, Bryan Anderson was leading a tight pack, followed by John Thomson and Glenn Syman. The next two beats saw major place changes occur in the fleet, with no side favoured, gains and losses being experienced on each side and up the middle. The course was shortened by one lap, with John Thomson recording the win, with Glenn Syman second again. A stone's throw from the finish, Drew Helmore looked like crossing in third, but the breeze dropped out where he was and he slipped back to a disappointing eighth. Peter Anderson was third, followed by Glen Duff (Aus) and Ben Deed. Bryan Anderson and Ron Wiggins (Aus) dead-heated for sixth.
The race committee signalled an intention to sail another heat back-to-back, but after a windless wait near the start area, decided to send the boats ashore. The breeze dropped right out and didn't reappear, so once again the racing was called off for the day.
On the last day of racing, only four of the programmed seven heats had been sailed, so the race committee intended to get at least two (and possibly three) races completed if conditions were suitable. The wind was again frustratingly light, although coming out of a different direction, around SW. Australia had a comfortable lead in the teams event and Bryan Anderson had a slight buffer to second placed Drew Helmore, but in the prevailing conditions, all this could easily change. By the time the fleet hit the water, there was about five knots out of the SSE. While the committee did their best to set a course, the boats waited patiently, though some let their concentration lapse too far! An amazing collision occurred between father and son Ron and Mark Wiggins, putting a fist-sized hole in Mark's hull. Fortunately, Peter Robins had some duct tape on board and Mark set about effecting a temporary repair.
By start time. There was a significant outgoing tide running so, not surprisingly, most of the fleet were over the line at the start, resulting in a general recall. At the second start, only two boats were over early. The fleet split on the first beat, with both sides looking good at various times. Mark Wiggins, obviously spurred on by the earlier incident, had a significant lead at the first mark. The place changing in the main pack continued, especially at the first wing mark, where a massing of boats saw at least 15 trying to round at the same time. On the last leg, the wind dropped even further, with many boats being becalmed. Drew Helmore, in about eighth place halfway up the last beat, banked on the new breeze coming from the shore, and took a big knock in towards the beach. He proved to be right, catching a nice little patch of breeze in to the finish. Mark Wiggins sailed a nervous last few hundred metres, but eventually crossed for the win, narrowly beating Helmore, with John Thomson just seconds behind in third. Thomson was the first of a pack of four Kiwis, with Kennett fourth, Dave Hemsley fifth and Chris Heywood sixth. Dave Hemsley was sailing a beautifully restored boat that was 27 years old, showing the longevity of the boats. He had originally bought the boat because he wanted the trailer it was on. The boat had been neglected, but sometime later there was a Paper Tiger event at his club, so he got the boat out and sailed it. He liked it so much that he set about getting it back into racing condition. The boat was actually one of the best presented ones in the event and was a real credit to Dave.
"Mornington Peninsula Council / Wagon Paints" Heat 6
The fleet headed back to the bottom of the course for the start of the sixth heat. The breeze had swung to the south and had built to 7-10 knots. Once again the line was pushed hard, resulting in a general recall. No boats were over on the second attempt and the fleet quickly split to the two sides of the course. At the first mark Dave Kennett was in front from Glen Duff, David Anderson, Dave Hemsley and Bryan Anderson. Once again there were many shifts and holes in the breeze. At the end of the windward and return, Bryan Anderson had moved to the front and set about stamping his authority on the event. He went on to win by 21 sec from Ben Deed, with another 21 sec back to Glen Duff. Then came a very pleased Dave Hemsley in fourth, with Bruce Rose, finally showing some of his potential form, in fifth. Drew Helmore was sixth, while Dave Kennett dropped to seventh after leading early on.
"Jason King Marine / Goodall Yacht Sails" Heat 7
The light conditions didn’t give the race committee sufficient time to hold the seventh heat, so the victory in the sixth heat sealed the series win for Bryan Anderson.
Anderson showed good pace and sound strategy all weekend, and his ability to recover from poor positions was quite impressive. His reaching style saw him regularly gain places on the off-wind legs. This win capped off an excellent season for the Australian Champion, who has made a significant improvement from previous seasons. No doubt the Bass Strait kayak expedition did his preparation no harm, though I can't see many others following his example!
Runner up was Drew Helmore, the quiet achiever, who was the only one to place in the top eight in every race. This was a particularly pleasing result for Helmore in such a light series, as he was considered to be a heavy weather specialist in previous years. Third place went to the defending champion, Ben Deed, who couldn't quite crack it for a race win this time and also had to contend with swapping masts early in the series. In fourth, and first of the Kiwis, was the New Zealand Champion, John Thomson. Thomson was the only one besides Helmore to place in the top ten in every race. Rounding out the top five was Dave Kennett, pleased with his position, his race win, and being the second Kiwi overall.
Anderson used a two year old Hooper crosscut sail, while both Helmore and Deed were using six month old Irwin radials. The top Kiwis were using sails from Linton and also Doyle. Further reinforcement of the longevity of the hulls was the fact that the average age of boats in the top ten was 11 years, with Anderson's boat seven years, Helmore's 17 years and Deed's two years.
In the teams competition, Australia won with 589 points to New Zealand's 672 points.
The series was considered to be an overwhelming success, with top line racing, keen competition, excellent race management, generous sponsorship support, fantastic social program, and strong camaraderie amongst the sailors.
Download the Overall Results
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