Hunter Nationals 2019
By James King
Flat water sailing at it's tickiest best. That's probably the best way to describe the 2019 Hunter National Championships at Witbank Yacht & Aquatic Club over the long weekend 21-24 March. Wind speed light to 8-10 knots maximum.
We had 16 boats this year, up 4 from last year. One boat from Cape Town, two boats from Midmar Dam and two from the Vaal Dam. There were eleven local entries.
This regatta saw action both on and off the water. So lets start with the off the water matters:
1. Paul Changuion and Tim Duguid from HMYC decided to take a chance and tow there boat up from Midmar without checking there trailer bearings before leaving. That proved to be an expensive mistake. A mistake that went along way in improving the GDP of the Harrismith Automotive industry.
2. I no longer only consider John Brookman a good yachtsman but also something of a master yacht builder/restorer. It took him seven years to strip and re-build Hunter 2004, "Guess Who". It truly is a masterpiece.
3. Don't mess with mother nature. On the evening of the 21st we all found ourselves in the middle of a static storm of frightening proportions. The unlucky recipient of one of the strikes was Pierre Van Rensburg's boat "Spotty". What happens is that the lightening strikes the top of the mast and the current exits the boat in three of four places (almost like bullet holes) just above the water line. Its a slow poison. Pierre and Andrew Edwards didn't realize they were sinking the next morning until it was almost to late. Thankfully they did manage to get the boat back on the trailer.
4. The Fines evenings were great fun. In the Hunter fleet ordinary seamanship never goes unnoticed.
5. The WEWA sponsored Final dinner after prize giving was a grand affair. The galley staff at WYAC have taken yacht club grub to another level.
6. If I may, I'd like to congratulate Barry Ogilvie and myself. We ran the fastest AGM in Hunter Class history........now, if only we could sail our boats that fast.
The on water activity.
For me this was a regatta that showed why those who spend more time sailing will always be closer to the front of the fleet. Even though you could go from first to last and last to first on one leg in the tricky conditions the top boats always found away to end the race at the front of the fleet.
The results show that the fleet could be divided into the following battles:
Guess Who vs Essex Girl
Odins Eye vs Copadaph
Sylphide vs Kingship vs Assegaai vs Eventide vs Bounty vs Spotty (when they were afloat)
Haysons vs Rags
Carpertbagger vs Blue Dubery vs Countdown
The sailing was intense. The difference between 1st and 2nd was 1 point. The same between 3rd and 4th. 6 points was the difference between 6th and 10th. 2 point between 11th and 12th and 10 or so points between 13th and 16th.
Although much could be said about those at the front of the fleet. I'd like to take some time and comment on what is happening in the middle and the back of the fleet. For the first time in a number of years I got the sense that the standard is starting to improve dramatically. In particular the boats from WYAC are making a much bigger impact. Crews like Steve and Devon Mathews, Pikkie and Zenobia Smit are starting to find themselves at the front of the fleet at times during some of the races. In years gone by this never really happened. Clearly they are spending time on the water and it's showing on the race course and score board. More importantly the two Witbank boats at the back of the fleet need mention. Corienne and Chloe started and finished every single race of the regatta. To the two of you; well done. It was not lost on any of us watching you finish your races how your boat handling improved as the regatta progressed. Chris Petzold and Dion Slabbert also started and finished every race. By the end of the regatta it was noticeable that they were starting to challenge the boats in front of them sometimes even passing them. It's these kinds of performances that drive classes like ours.
I'd also like to make special mention of our guests. John and Brendon Latilla joined us from the Trailer Sailor Club of Queensland in Australia. It's almost a decade ago that they were at one of our Nationals. It was really great to see them again. It was also great to see Mike Hayton around. Its a hell of jump for him come and sail a Hunter after spending the last few seasons sailing his super fast Nitro and Cape 31 in Cape Town. These are boats that probably don't sail at less than 10 knots which provided the impetus for the chirp of the regatta "I don't think I've worked that hard to go 3 knots in my life" (Mike Hayton). Mike had Stefano Marcia of Laser fame sailing with him. It was really cool to have somebody of Stefano's skill in our fleet. Although they didn't win the regatta, we could all see that they'd be there or there abouts should they give it another go at next years Nationals.
Finally, a quick note of thanks to the organising committee and staff at WYAC. It was a superbly run event. Many thanks to Trevor Hulleman, Ron Gurnell and their bridge crew for running an excellent 12 races. Next year our Nationals will be at the Vaal Dam. Barry, Jessica, Pierre and myself will start making the necessary arrangements. We will keep you posted on the website and the whatsapp group.
SAIL YOUR HUNTER FASTER
Recently the Hunter Class did a survey amongst some of it’s more recent National Championship winners on what they considered the most important tuning control.
They were posed with the following question:
“You are presented with a Hunter 19. Hull, complete with keel, rudder with tiller, tiller extension, standing rigging, main sail, genoa and the necessary sheets (including main track & genoa track).
What’s the first control that you add and why?”
Here’s the answers:
I think it would have to be the adjustable backstay
This is the first gear we change in and out of pressure.
Off - Lighter Breeze, higher pointing and more power. This does also increase your leech tensions.
Medium - , better speed and more balance but watch your pointing and jib sheeting angle
Hard - 12 plus knots, depower sail, drive off the jib
Some people will also argue that in very light breeze better to have the backstay on hard to help create leech twist and better flow over the sail.
I have thought about this quite a lot.
I would add a good backstay control
…..allowing the forestay to be "eased" when the breeze drops. I initially thought that I would add a headsail cunningham, and came to the conclusion that the backstay control will have similar effect with the added bonus of allowing forestay sag.
So yes, a good backstay adjustment.
Back Stay tensioner.
Without them you are going nowhere.
A drinks holder at the stern
On a serious note a Genoa Cunningham I would think
I am not sure you would call it a control but I would check mast position
……as this appears to be critical in making your boat go .Especially Europa's as the early rules had mast position measured from the forestay which in the Europa's left the mast too far back and plenty of weather helm..
Hunter Nationals 2018
Another year another Nationals. For a number of reasons we didn’t have a particularly large fleet this year but by jolly did we have a competitive one. I got to watch the action from the back of the fleet and it was fierce. Small mistakes were punished. The first weather mark rounding’s can only be described as a dog show. For me it was a real privilege to get to sail in and amongst these boats, all-be-it in small snatches during the regatta. Often there was variation in wind speed and it was interesting to watch the top guys change gears (to coin a phrase from Paul Changuion our 2017 National champion).The way in which the sails are reconfigured every time the wind changes was quite exhausting to watch.
The story of the regatta was the re-introduction of Luke and Stephen Wagner. They’ve been missing from the fleet for 3 years now and he’s come back with a bog standard Hunter Europa and simply wiped the floor. To be honest it was quite staggering to watch. He was up against 3 boats boasting multiple national champions not to mention the Funke lads from 505 fame and Craig Millar who’s no slouch at the end of the tiller. Phew, all I can say is thank you Luke. Europa owners are back in the loop thanks to you guys. By all accounts the last person to come close to achieving this feat was Chris Frost and that was 24 years ago! It does beg the question whether Frosty could do it again. Naaa I don’t think so. He’s too old now!
Many of you are aware that there has been much angst in the class during the course of this decade on matters surrounding the rules. These matters have been put to rest now and the camaraderie at these Nationals was palatable to the extent that we will no doubt have Hunter sailors who left the class return.
By the way, I’m your chairman for 2018/19. It happened like this:
Paul Changuion gave me two quick Tequila’s. Then we had an AGM. Then I was Chairman.
On a serious note it’s a privilege to do this job. I’ve done it before in the 90’s and hopefully I’ll be able to make a contribution. To CJ who’s gone before me; thanks. You’ve kept this class going through some rough times and managed to steer us out the other side. I now get to build on what you’ve done before me.
There are a number of issues that your new committee will be tackling. I will endeavor to keep you posted as we go along. However the first priority is the KZN champs. They’re coming up in September. 22-24 to be exact. It’s a long weekend. HMYC are already busy with the notice of regatta. If you are looking for some great sailing do yourself a favour and come to this regatta. I’ve left my boat at HMYC and will be flying in for the regatta. The last time I sailed on Midmar was probably in the early 90’s. I’d forgotten how spectacular the Midlands are. The dam is full with these beautiful green rolling hills surrounding the dam. To top it off the breeze is perfect.
Hunter Sailing Events
50 Years- Onwards and Upwards
Fifty years on and the largest keelboat class in South Africa continues to surprise. The class has sizeable fleets in the Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State and Kwa Zulu Natal provinces. Recently it has expanded into the Western Cape with an 8 boat fleet sailing out of Hout Bay Yacht Club.
This year the class will be celebrating 50yrs with its national championships being sailed in conjunction with Keel Boat Week at Deneysville Aquatic club on the Vaal Dam. 60 boats is the number of boats expected. Boats have already started to arrive at DAC from around the country.
Hunter regattas are nationally renowned for being competitive at the front of the fleet yet always cater for those both sailing in the middle and bottom ends of the fleet. To celebrate 50yrs on and weather permitting the class association is hoping to revert to some of the original regatta formats of yesteryear. For example the class is hoping to include a medium or longer distance race in the regatta.
If you are a Hunter sailor then this is a regatta not to be missed. Come and join in for the camaraderie and nostalgia.
Dates: 21, 22 & 23
NOR - Download
Get Class News
Hout Bay Yacht Club
Sunday 10 June 2018 saw some Hunter action in Hout Bay. It was the “Old Salts in little boats race” 8 boats made the start.
The 2017 Hunter Nationals Report by James King
The 2017 Hunter Nationals are now a thing of the past but what a fantastic regatta. This year the Nationals were incorporated with Keelboat Week 2017 which once again was an exceptionally well run affair. Kudos to the team at Deneysville Aquatic Club.
I always like to take a look at the representation of clubs on the entry list. The greater the variety the healthier the class. Not many keelboat classes can boast a representation of nine clubs at their nationals. There is no doubt that the Hunter Class is on its way back to full recovery. This year we managed an entry of 28 boats but 30 plus will become the norm again. We’ve also started to see some new faces in the lineup. Out of the blue we had an entry from Free State Yacht Club. Noel (Harrison) it was great to meet you and kudos for making the effort. Wasn’t it just awesome to see young Keala Giles (12 years old) helming for her grandfather (Rob Sander). The two junior teams from WYAC (Michael Fogarty & Corbin Clack) and PYC (Brendan Humphreys and Tegan Herron) sailed well and it was good to see them on the start line. Certainly Michael and Corbin managed to get to every finish line. Well done lads. Can you believe that Charles Girard (yes, he of Hobie Cat fame) has finally restored his Hunter. I think Charles’ Hunter has been in the Girard family since they built the dam wall. Who would have thought that the Funke family would have taken a breather from the action of a 505 and entered the milieu of the Hunter fraternity. Welcome. The same could be said for Richard Weiderhold and Greg Plunkett who bought Simon Farrington’s old boat.
Although Paul Changuion and Tim Duguid won their third nationals in a row. One suspects that the old order is about to be shaken up with these new arrivals. The time has arrived for folks like Herbert, John, Dave and Tony to change their oil. There was another new face in the pack at the front of the fleet. Our erstwhile chairman seemed to have found some afterburners and was always there or there about. If there is one truism for the Hunter Nationals then that is don’t make a mistake. Hit a mark for example and you’ll say good bye to 10 places plus. Even if you are in the front of the fleet you don’t get them back easily.
The 2017 Nationals were a great success. I think the general consensus is that the class is back on track after having slowed down in the last few years. CJ Miln remains chairman for another year and the Nationals will be held at Henley Midmar Yacht Club in March 2018. Before then the KZN championships will be held in November this year and then at the beginning of March next year the ever popular Mpumalanga Championships.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the most notable result of the regatta. Kingship 9th and Bounty 11th.
Cheers. See you all next year.
The 2016 Nationals report by James King
So, Discovery Health encourage its members to wear a watch that measures your daily activity rate. If you meet certain daily targets Discovery credit you with points. My crew has one of these watches and generally struggles to meet these targets. Two 30-40 minute races at the 2016 Hunter Nationals however and he passed his daily requirements by more than 30%. Gee but I’m glad I’m the skipper on our boat.
They truly are great little boats with plenty of action all round and once again the 2016 Nationals didn’t let us down.
Witbank Yacht and Aquatic Club were our hosts this year and boy do they know how to lay it on. It all worked like clockwork. From the moment we arrived from Cape Town to the moment we packed up, everything was organized. The Witbank boys had also managed to secure a wonderful sponsorship from EATON who amongst other things sponsored a gourmet sit down meal in the WY&A club house. A grand affair.
I always like to look at the number of yacht clubs represented on the scoresheet to give me a feel of the strength of our fleet country wide. Our entry of 19 boats from 5 clubs last year was surpassed by 20 boats from 6 clubs. Henley Midmar had two entries, Royal Cape Yacht Club one entry, Deneysville Aquatic Club two entries, one from Vaal Cruising Association, thirteen from WY&A Club and our solitary international entry from the Trailer Sailer Club of Queensland. Yes, John Latilla made the trip from Brisbane to participate in our Nationals. Good-on-you-mate!
On to the racing then. The fleet competed in two divisions. The first ten and the second ten on the final score sheet. In the second ten our class captain CJ Milne was the easy winner but after him the action started between our Aussie entry of John & Brendan Latilla and the Witbank husband & wife team of Pikkie and Zenobia Smit. Both these teams ended on 91 points with John taking it on a count-out. A quick perusal of the score card tells you how close the racing was. Pikkie came thirteenth overall yet didn’t carry one score higher than a thirteenth. It was just that those below him where able to sneak in one or two low scores to keep him at bay.
The same could be said for the intensity in the first ten. Competition at the sharp end of the Hunter Nationals has to be right up there with the best classes in the country. It is remarkable that the first 5 places all recorded position one’s on their score sheets. Don’t think that you can just pitch up at the Hunter Nationals and win. It’s difficult and that’s why all credit must go to Paul Changuion and Tim Duguid on Essex Girl. They complimented their victory last year with another win this year; proving that they aren’t merely a flash in the pan! But let me say victory didn’t come easy. They ended up on equal points with the old warhorse pair of Herbert Karolius and Frank Lenz on Vaalvark and eventually won on a count-out. In a very impressive third place was Rory and Craig Hay on Donnatella. They started this year’s nationals like they finished off last years, with a bullet. To drive home the closeness of the racing it is worth pointing out that Donnatella beat the team of John Bruckmann and Dave Martinson (previous national champions) on a count-out as well.
All in all another great Hunter nationals. A lot friendship and camaraderie, sometimes late into the night. The fines evenings being particularly good fun after each days racing. Nothing goes unnoticed in our fleet.
A new committee has been chosen and it’s time to continue the preparations for the 2017 nationals. The little Squib; the forerunner of the Hunter; first arrived in 1967. Next year we effectively turn 50 years old. We want 60 boats at these Nationals.
Come on guys. Let’s make that happen!
The 2015 Nationals report by James King
And so the 2015 Hunter National Championships are a thing of the past. Once again the people that sail the little boat with the big heart were able to compete with each other in the true spirit of sailing. 19 boats made the effort of getting to the Vaal Cruising Association on the eastern shore of the Vaal Dam this year. A far cry from the heady days of 40 to 50 boats on a start line. However we have it upon good authority that those days are on the way back. More of that later.
One of the testaments to a classes strength is often revealed in the number of different yacht clubs represented on the score sheet. As always Witbank Yacht and Aquatic Club made it’s impressive contribution to the numbers with 11 entries all towed down from Witbank. 4 boats hit the N3 from Pietermaritzburg’s Henley Midmar Yacht Club and a lonely soul tackled the N1 from Cape Town’s Royal Cape Yacht Club.
The big disappointment was the effort made from those in and around the Vaal Dam yacht clubs. We had an entry from Sealpoint Yacht Club, one from Lake Deneysville Yacht club and two from Vaal Cruising Association. 5 yacht clubs represented in in an entry of 19 boats. Not bad but nowhere near where it should be. Vaal Dam yachtsmen might not know this but in Trevor Hulliman they have one of the finest bridge officers in the country. Setting race courses on the Highveld is never easy. Somehow Trevor gets it right every time. I used to think he was just lucky. He managed to get 7 races in the allotted 3 days for the championship. 7 races that gave us everything from big wind with hail and light wind with and without rain. As always the racing was fierce right through the fleet.
In the Hunter Nationals you simply can’t make mistakes. Many a war story after a day’s sailing will tell you that a simple mistake will always cost you. Sometimes up to 10 places. Ask me I know. It’s always Mr. Consistency that wins and this year that honour went to Paul Changuion and Tim Druid on Essex Girl (HMYC). They hardly put a foot wrong. Kudos to them. Beating the often National champion pair of John Bruckmann and Dave Martinson on Cophada (WYAC) is no mean feat. The old seadog pair of Tony Cockorill and Peter Metcalfe on Odin’s Eye (HMYC) sneaked into third place. Well done to our podium winners. What makes this class great are the other duels panning out further down the fleet. Here’s an example. In the last race of the second day Barry Ogalvie on Bounty (WYAC) sneaked past me on the last beat. He came 9th I came 10th (I think). He was waiting for me in the bar afterwards. The smile on his face told the story. Anyway, he bought me a whisky. Funny how that seemed to help.
We had a rather vocal AGM this year and sorted out a lot of issues from rules to committee’s to forum’s of communication. The class’s new chairman, CJ Milne, is clearly the right man for the job. No doubt things are going to change strategically and for the better. Our new Chairman has made his goal clear. He wants to oversee a 60 boat National Championship. To do this each and everyone of us have to put our commitment caps on.
The Hunter 19 - Brief Class History
The Hunter class dates back to about 1967, with the first 'famous' boat being the NATIONAL SQUIB, designed and finished by Oliver Lee and moulded by the Essex Boat Company. The Squib has gone on to reach British national status with more than 800 on the water. In 1970, a chap named Michael Poland requested that the builder design a 'lid' for the Squib to enable him to sail it across the English Channel.
As Poland's other favourite past-time was hunting, the boat was named the HUNTER 19!
Oliver Lee also designed a Squib with a lifting keel, called a TRACER, and then redesigned the Hunter 19, naming the new boat the EUROPA.
There is also the SANDHOPPER, a Squib with bilge keels...
The Hunter 2000 is a South African derivative, having again been redesigned from new moulds.
Never Been a Better Time to Get into Hunter Sailing
Two damn Good reasons for getting into the Hunter Fleet:
1) One of the largest keelboat fleets in South Africa (consistently 30+ boats on the startline....49 at the SA Nationals 2007)
2) Most reasonably priced sailing & value for money in the country. You can buy a second hand Hunter needing some TLC (at relatively low cost) from just R16 000. Buy a Hunter that d you can jump into and sail competitively, from about R20 000.
Buy a front runner for about R35 000... Go to our For Sale Page to see a choice of Yachts on offer now!
Value wake-up call: In the UK a new SQUIB will cost you the equivalent of about R132 000.