From Peter Hackett The unmistakeable blue sail of the Minnow is something of an icon in Australian sailing that transcends generations. For a great many adult sailors today, it was their ‘first love’ – the boat they first started sailing in and thereafter got forever hooked in the sport. The class also boasts an impressive track record when it comes to breeding champions. Stuart Wallace, Laser World Champion; Sarah Blank, also a Laser world champion and 2 time Olympian, not to mention the many State and National champions across many classes.
The Minnow today still retains its magic when it comes to appealing to the junior sailor. Over 100 boats competed at the recent Nationals sailed at Sorrento highlighting not only how healthy the Minnow class is but also what great shape our junior sailing is in. Very few classes enjoy membership to this exclusive ‘100 club’ making it one of the strongest in the country.
Underpinning this success story has been a great training & coaching program, strong family support and most importantly, an emphasis on participation and fun. These ingredients were epitomised in this year’s Nationals where the social / on-shore program made the whole experience much more than just a racing regatta. With daily Minnow Musters for prizes and giveaways, BBQ’s and welcome night, an inspiring presentation from the country’s sailing hero John Bertrand, culminating in a presentation night extravaganza with over 150 kids and 130 adults. Its difficult to paint in words great atmosphere and culture but when you see over 100 kids spontaneously end up in the water, dressed in their best presentation night clothes for the traditional ‘sandbagging’ of winners, you know there is something pretty unique going on. Apparently throwing each other in the water fully clothed then being dragged through the sand is ‘epic fun’ in kids world.
Broad smiles following the traditional ‘sandbagging’ of the winners
An exciting new development in the class has been the introduction of the new YMS boat – a high quality, fibreglass hull built by Adelaide boat builder, Brett Young. This initiative aims to mirror the success in reinvigorating the Sabre class where YMS boats dominate the top half of the fleet, effectively making it a one design class. With a total of five heat wins, the YMS boats made an impressive debut, proving they are the real deal.
The four new YMS minnows about to be launched for the first time
Conditions were challenging throughout the ten races, with shifty medium to fresh winds and the strong tidal stream of Sorrento. Start lines were also hotly contested with many general recalls and black flags. The high quality of racing and sailing skills displayed was a real standout throughout the regatta, with a total of six different heat winners and the top nine boats all demonstrating race winning potential, highlighting the closeness of competition.
Hugo Llewelyn sailing Gull, was the well deserving winner of the open championship, and a real hallmark of his performance was handling all of the big fleet challenges with consistency and by minimising mistakes. In second place and first girl, was Laura Harding and third place was Kieran Schortz from Darwin Sailing Club.
Australian Minnow Champion 2013: Hugo Llewelyn
In the emerging talent of the Junior division a real battle took place with just five points separating the top three places with Hamish Bolton winning the title, followed by James Hackett and Harry Fox.
In the Novice Fleet, it was fantastic to see so many beginners ‘step up’ and participate, a real testament to their regular involvement in their club and class training programs. Well done to Jackson Lazzar, Niklas Rathmayr and George Aulich, taking out first, second and third places respectively.
Frank McKenna showing off his intense concentration skills in the Novice Division
Congratulations to all the winners and particularly well done to all the novice sailors, for many this was their first ever regatta and it was wonderful to see their confidence grow every day.
With the exciting new fibreglass boat design and enjoying the support of Yachting Victoria as a Junior pathway class, the future looks bright for the perennial Minnow. All hail the blue sail!
1st: Hugo Llewelyn (27)Vic
2nd: Laura Harding (30) Vic
3rd: Kieran Schortz (38) NT
4th: Dale Brett (40) WA
5th: Hayden Harding (43)
6th: Ethan O’Brien (54)
7th: Jeremy Edleston (63)
8th: Joshua Copeland (71)
9th: Alex Bolton (77)
10th: James Taylor (78)
1st: Hamish Bolton (107)
2nd: James Hackett (110)
3rd: Harry Fox (112)
1st: Jackson Lazzar (17)
2nd: Niklas Rathmayr (21)
3rd: George Aulich (23)
4th: Grainne Snooks (31)
5th: Taylor Evans (52)
6th: Jack Chapman (53)
7th: Meg Smith (53)
8th: Celeste Robertson (56)
9th: Grace Lazzar (59)
10th: Aemilia Sherwell (60)