2009 Schneider Electrics Hunter Nationals - HMYC

‘Schneider Electric’ Hunter Class National Championships 2009 - Henley Midmar Yacht Club – Midmar Dam
Friday 20 March to Sunday 22 March 2009

The results of the three races held on the afternoon of the first day of the Hunter Class Nationals Championships 2009 gave little early indication of what was to unfold by way of result by the end of the event.

Race 1 saw part of the fleet of thirty-one entrants (sixteen visiting boats) make an early correct choice on the start line to get off to a flying start in the easterly wind and hold favourable positions to the finish. Experienced Nationals campaigner Herbie Karolius and Keith Vennel on Vaal Valk took line honours followed by defending champs John Bruckman and Dave Martinson on Guesswho? The latter team registered early intent, determined to make it a first-ever four-in-a-row run of Hunter Class Championship titles. In third place was Monkey (Alex Schon/Rob Edwards) followed by Spottymoto (Ricky Robinson/Sean van Rensburg). Rick and Sean represent the growing group of pretenders to the throne in the Hunter Class as these little keelers attract the attention of the younger set looking for the experience of competitive sailing in larger fleets. Also giving notice was novice skipper entrant Lauren Ross, with dad Reg as crew, as she skippered borrowed boat Bad News to a very creditable fifth place.

Guesswho? took first position in Race 2 with Essex Girl (Paul Changuion/Tim Duguid), Prodigy II (Chris Frost/Ryan Smolderen), Odin’s Eye (Tony Cockerill/Hank Pike) and Zackedly (Rob Samways/Duncan Keir) putting their names in to the mix of potential front runners. Friday’s last race (Race 3) had the oldest competitive boat of the Hunter fleet, Odin’s Eye, causing a stir by taking the honours from Prodigy II, Zackedly, Guesswho? and Essex Girl.

 Discussion preceding the Friday evening’s Hunter Class AGM appeared to be centred round subdued post-mortems of the day’s sailing conditions and results, with Guesswho? nicely placed ahead of a chasing pack of boats,  and more animated verbal anticipation of the business to be presented and discussed as part of the AGM’s posted agenda. A record of the business of the meeting is now duly reported in the minutes thereof and will soon be available on the Hunter Class website atwww.hunterclass.com for perusal. Suffice to say that the future of the Hunter Class has been properly secured by the members of the class entrusting the Class Committee, under the incoming chairmanship of Paul Changuion, and its Technical Committee with the task of taking the class in to a new era. Exciting opportunities have been revealed for the class, due in no small way to magnanimous support from Chris Frost and Rob Samways. Schneider Electric confirmed their ongoing support for the class by way of sponsorship and support of a Hunter Class youth development initiative to be implemented by the Class Committee.

Race Officer Rob Bell, most ably assisted by Brenda Tarboton and Jean Wagner on Bridge Duty and Dave and Stephen Wagner and Clive Waddy on Mark-laying and Rescue Duty, waited for the wind to settle from the east on the Saturday before summonsing the fleet out to the centre of Midmar just before midday. The settling wind conditions made for an interesting first race (Race 4) of the day. Perceptions are that local knowledge ( with a good measure of good fortune!) saw Odin’s Eye recover from a nearly-becalmed position fifty metres from the start to take the race ahead of Essex Girl, Baby Blue (Craig Millar/Byron Watt), Vaal Valk and Prodigy II. Race 5, and the longest race of the championships with three laps (all other races being of two laps of windward-leeward configuration) of the lengthy course in a fairly strong wind, saw Craig Millar put his hand up for notice with Baby Blue ahead of Spottymoto, Odin’s Eye, Essex Girl and Vaal Valk. Race 6 had the youngsters on Spottymoto showing their stamina by registering what was to be their best result of the Nationals with line honours ahead of the battle between local boats Odin’s Eye and Essex Girl split by Vaal Valk, followed by Guesswho? with her best result of the day.

The fleet retired to its moorings late in the afternoon in preparation for the Hunter Class Dinner, sponsored by Schneider Electric, to be enjoyed in the HMYC clubhouse. A happy hour, sponsored by AMTEC in the person of Mike Hayton, before the dinner created a most congenial forum for discussion following the day’s action out on the water. Popular consensus appeared to be that the fairly consistent weather and wind conditions of the first two days had contributed much to a most interesting competition on the water. Positive comment was also registered on the substantial length of the courses, and the length of the start line for all races, as determined by the Race Officer.

The result sheet posted before the dinner (showing fleet positions after the completion of six races with the only discard after the completion of the fifth race) also gave rise to much discussion. Consistency of result had earned Odin’s Eye a position at the top of the leaderboard with a small cushion over another HMYC boat, Essex Girl, and Vaal Valk with any of the number of a pack of boats eager to pounce should an opportunity arise during the last day of racing on the Sunday. Would ‘Odin’ Cockerill’s mantra of ‘You have to spend time on the water!’ prove to have some validity?

Events of the nature of the Hunter Nationals are always about more than just the frontrunners of the fleet and much animated discussion surrounded the respective performance (or lack thereof) of the rest of the fleet. Races within races. Familiar names of the Hunter Fleet, both of crew and of boat. Lester Johnstone visiting from Canada with Dom Changuion on Picannin, Jessica Lenz and Shellee Nell on Assegaai, Colin and Craig Hay (Haysons), Paradigm Shift (Ant McMillan/Rob McIntosh), Flirt (Pete Metcalfe/Tim Kerry), Carpetbagger (Mike Hayton/Malcolm ‘I second that’ Orren), Bounty (Barry Ogilvie/Chris Emery), Clockwork (Austin Daly/Steve Thysse), Spazzymoto (Andrew Edwards/Pierre van Rensburg) and so the list could continue. And the doyen of the Hunter fleet was present once again…Fritz von Klemperer, at the age of 91 years, and with crew Roger Eshmade still making his presence felt out amongst the fleet in his own inimitable fashion.

The spread available to the many diners at the Schneider Electric-sponsored Hunter Class Dinner prepared by HMYC Club Manager David Patrick and the rest of the Patrick clan proved to be as anticipated; a sumptuous repast very well and efficiently presented. A meal and an occasion to be remembered.

Sunday brought with it a clear day and a northerly breeze that confounded local knowledge by blowing for longer than it usually does at Midmar, before dying towards the middle of the day. The Race Officer, relying on experience and also keen to get in the maximum number of races, had the fleet out in the early afternoon and waiting for the expected wind to come through from the east once again. Just as some thought was being given to the possibility of abandoning the idea of additional races, so the breeze announced its arrival. Its changeable early nature made the task of laying the course that more challenging but the fleet eventually gathered for the start of Race 7.

At the hooter it was the old lady of the fleet, Odin’s Eye, getting off to one of her better starts of the regatta and taking up position in the leading pack of the fleet. Her finish ahead of Monkey, Guesswho?, Baby Blue and Zackedly did much to cement her position at the top of the leaderboard for the regatta. The wind had settled by the start of Race 8 and the fleet was able to enjoy the final race of the 2009 Hunter Nationals in pleasant sailing conditions. Vaal Valk finished the regatta as she had started with Herbie Karolius guiding her to first position, Zackedly taking second position ahead of the ever-consistent Odin’s Eye. Assegaai enjoyed her best finish of the regatta in fourth place with Prodigy II finishing in fifth position.


Prizegiving took place in the HMYC Clubhouse with HMYC Honorary President, George Duffin, presenting the prizes.

Regatta Top Ten Positions:(The full record and results sheet is available on the Hunter Class website)
1.  Tony Cockerill/Hank Pike                          Odin’s Eye                      HMYC
2.  Herbie Karolius/Keith Vennell                   Vaal Valk                        SPYC
3.  Paul Changuion/Tim Duguid                       Essex Girl                       HMYC
4.  John Bruckman/Dave Martinson                 Guesswho?                      HMYC
5.  Ricky Robinson/Sean van Rensburg             Spottymoto                    BYC
6.  Craig Millar/Byron Watt                             Baby Blue                       HMYC
7.  Rob Samways/Duncan Keir                         Zackedly                        HMYC
8.  Alex Schon/Rob Edwards                            Monkey                          LDYC
9.  Chris Frost/Ryan Smolderen                       Prodigy II                       RNYC
10.Lester Johnston/Dom Changuion                 Picannin                        LDYC


Inter Club Competition – Reg Beavitt Memorial Trophy-Henley Midmar Yacht Club
Class Chairman’s Award – Service to the Hunter Class - Hank Pike - HMYC


Odins Eye takes it