So, who won the Cup this year?  Lucas Upton was first over the finish line to win his first; then Leigh Behrens won his TENTH Australasian Championship; and helming the Tasmanian entry Karabos IX to its FIFTH (a record for a single hull) was the extraordinary Nick Rogers for his Thirteenth (and let’s not forget the one he won with Gordon Ingate helming !) so 14 in total.  Exceptional.  Unprecedented.  Brilliant.

 

And against some serious competition on the Gippsland Lakes south-east of Melbourne at Metung on Lake King and Bancroft Bay

 

Trio, a wooden Dragon, was launched as Alska in 1967 from the yard of renowned builder Bill Barnett.  Bill built 24 Dragons, numbered 59 – 138, from 1958 to 1967; winning 11 Prince Philip Cups with 5 famous skippers, Tony Manford (4), Eric Strain (2), Bun Lynn (2), Ted Albert (2) and Norm Longworth.  So, with two-time PPC winner Matt Whitnall helming, and owner Michael Bartley and Peter Bevis as crew, Trio has real potential, especially after placing second last year and winning the 2022 NSW Championship; beating Karabos IX.

 

Hugh Wardrop has bought Riga from Zane Ridgeway and is a serious competitor as he sailed with Nick Rogers to win the PPC in Sydney aboard Hughs’ previous boat Leander.

 

Petticrow have Liquidity, with Richard Franklin, as runner up for that 2022 Championship.  Local Metung sailor and Championship Organiser Fred Haes will have the latest launched Dragon at the regatta, the Petticrow Wicked II.

 

Richard Lynn, won his first (of four) PPC with father Bun aboard the Barnett-built Aeolus; then in the Endeavourbuilt (DAUS 191) Red Baron helming in ’95 in Perth (till he damaged his arm and shared the honour with Willy Packer) and again in Perth in 2007 & ‘10 aboard the now named Puff.  For this campaign ‘over east’ he has purchased Whim from Godon Ingate and named her, simply, Gordon.  He brings a top-class crew of Adam Brenz-Verca and Ethan Prieto-Low to improve his chances.  At the 2023 Dragon World Championships in Bodrum, Turkey in May, they finished 11th with a best race placing of third.  Competitive.

 

Sandy Anderson won the Adelaide PPC in 2006 and has been a regular competitor in recent years in Hobart (amongst other venues) and with her 4-all-girl crew could get the job done again.

 

The Karabos IX 2024 campaign commenced with a mainland campaign last summer where Nick, Leigh and Lucas won the Victorian Championship at Metung.  This was after placing third at the NSW State Championship at Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, winning the 2023 Ted Albert Trophy, but suffered a disappointing Prince Philip Cup where the boys finishing third to David Chapman and Trio.

 

A winter of training and preparation saw the K9 crew in Metung on Tuesday 23rd January for the Preliminary series for the PPC, named in honour of Class stalwart and dual PPC winner, Ted Albert.  The one-mile beat was west across Lake King, starting near Raymond Island in 12-18 knots.  The breeze backed a little and freshened, but held reasonably and the left side was generally favoured.

 

Race 1 got underway at 12:30 pm, Race 2 at 13:48 (two boats DNS, 2 DNF) and R3 (seven DNS) at 15:02.  A few boats didn’t want any damage, a few knew what they wanted and saved themselves.

 

Gordon won the first two races and then retired from the final, maybe because it’s believed winning the prelim series is a bad omen.  Karabos IX were victorious on a countback from Riga.  Bad omen?

 

2024 Ted Albert Series

         boat                       skipper                       R 1, 2, 3    total

1       Karabos IX             N Rogers                       8, 2, 1        11

2       Riga                        H Wardrop                    2, 5, 4        11

3       Imagination          D Daniel                        5, 3, 5        13

4       Pennyfarthing       S Locke                          7, 6, 2        15

5       Xanthos                 J Young                          6, 9, 3        18

6       Gordon                  R Lynn                      1, 1, 18 S        20

7       Trio                         M Whitnall                 11, 8, 6        25

8       Tarakona               H Howard                 12, 10, 8        30

9       Adios III                  G McGann                14, 11, 7        32

10     Amazing Grace     C Stanton                  10, 13, 9        32

11     Saphira                  I Malley                    9, 7, 18 S        34

12     Liquidity                 R Franklin              13, 4, 18 S        35

13     Plum Crazy            S Anderson            15, 12, 10        37

14     Wicked II                F Haes                 3, 18 S, 18 S        39

15     Fascination           D Tabb                 4, 18 F, 18 S        40

16     Abracadabra        C Maclean        16, 18 F, 18 S        52

17     Sea Joy VI              C Bury               17, 18 S, 18 S        53

F=DNF, S=DNS

 

The Charles E Davies Memorial Trophy was awarded to the Karabos IX as winner of the final race.

 

And so to Wednesday 24th January and Race 1 of the 2024 Prince Philip Cup, the Australasian Championship for the International Dragon.

 

At the warning signal at 1255, the course was again to the west with the breeze at about 13 knots.  With a race target time of 55 minutes the beat was relatively short at about 1 mile.  The breeze was dying on the first lap and the race time limit is 80 minutes.  If a boat finishes within that time limit, the race stands.  The course was shortened, but then the breeze built, and the wily Englishman, David Tabb, continued his strong performance to lead at all marks and win the Jack Linacre Memorial Trophy comfortably.  The funny breeze had caught a few out but good tactics and a few well thought out manoeuvres resulted in Karabos moving up to second, with Gordon stuck back in sixth.

 

The breeze was above 10 knots for race 2 and Karabos IX has a great start but followed Gordon around the top mark, with Riga next.  Gordon and Karabos IX tacked and gybed around the race track, but Karabos IX won narrowly from Gordon, Riga and Trio.

 

Thursday the 25th was the scheduled Lay Day and Friday 26th, Australia Day, was blown out with strong winds.  Maybe, given the forecast, races should have been held on the Thursday, and Friday become the Lay Day with the resulting big breezes.

 

Saturday 27th January

Race three started in a 10-knot westerly with a mile to the top mark.  Gordon consolidated her good start and was first to the top mark by a narrow margin from Riga, the local Wicked II, Imagination, Karabos IX and Trio.  Next time up Karabos IX was leading Imagination, Riga then an appalled GordonKarabos IX held for the win from Imagination; Gordon passed Riga with better boat speed, then Wicked II and Trio.

 

Race four clocked a little and faded to about five knots, with frustratingly fickle breezes; delays and course changes.  AP for a few hours.  A race started but abandoned.  Sea Joy went home.  Another hour; a general recall.  U flag.  Matt Whitnall had Trio on the line and went, Wicked II were to leeward and pushed up to keep in the race, but lost site of the pin and both were over early.

 

Gordon was again first around, and again followed by Riga, Karabos IX, then Fascination and Stephen Locke had Pennyfarthing on the pace.  Gordon steamrolled the fleet to win comfortably but Karabos IX was second, with Pennyfarthing also continuing her good form.

 

Race five might have started in 16 knots but it was fading and clocking.  A mile course at 145°.  Quick, let’s go.  Local Fred Haes learned his lessons at this start and had Wicked II first around ahead of Gordon and Trio.  But the breeze was dying, again.

 

Gordon got through Wicked II, then Trio, Pennyfarthing and, eventually, a disappointed Karabos IX; caught out by thinking the right was the better side in this race.  Wrong.  They started at the boat and went right.  Halfway up they went from being OK, to whoops – we gotta get across.  Bang bang, knocks.  Nick, Leigh and Lucas fought really hard and managed to salvage a sixth.  Their worst score, but better than some others.

 

After drops, Karabos IX was on top with six points (2,1,1,2), from Gordon (2,3,1,1) on seven points.  Fred Haes joked that these two boats were in ‘A’ Division, and he was leading ‘B’ Division, with his Wicked II third on 18pts.  Gordon just appeared faster and smarter than everyone else.  Appeared.

 

And so, to Sunday 28th; the prize presentation was at 6 pm.  Five races constitute a series, but there would be two more races to be run and won.

 

The late morning saw 5 knots of breeze from the west.  It was light and variable.  It was always gunna be tricky with 50° shifts.  Race six eventually got away (after an earlier abandonment up the first work when the breeze died) and as was to be expected, Karabos IX and Gordon were neck and neck at the bottom of the first lap.  Richard and Nick chose opposite gate buoys, Karabos went left (after their race 5 mistake of going right), Gordon went right.  And then the breeze died.  Again.  It was another drifter.  All regatta long, without a sea breeze all week, the wind had filled from the left.  And it did again in Race 6.  Fascination, with GBR True Story sails, happened, by design or good fortune, to be the furthest left and had the advantage of the new breeze first and went on to win.  Karabos IX were second.  Unfortunately, Richard, Ethan and Adam were too far to the right and sat and watched the fleet sail to the finish.  Twelfth.  They would drop that score, but have to carry their sixth, whereas Karabos IX could drop theirs.

 

So it was down to the last race, number 7; no warning signal would be made after 1530.  With seven minutes to go the course was 250°, 0.7 miles.  But half way up the beat the wind was 170° at 10 knots.  That breeze filled in and it was impossible to lay the start line on starboard, so start and flop onto port; and the fleet laid the top mark.  A soldiers course.  Shy kites down the run.  And so it came to be that Gordon beat Karabos home, but lost the regatta by 4 points.  And then, without surprise, in expected regatta performance, came Fred Haes helming Wicked II for the bronze medal, followed by Trio, Riga, Imagination and Fascination.

 

Nick had promised his 280 kg crew that they’d enjoy the regatta, not get too serious, use their North sail inventory and have fun; use their advantage in race strategy optimisation and try to get a another PPC victory in this the 40th anniversary year of Ridgeway Dragons.  Tick.

 

2024 Dragon Prince Philip Cup