If you were the race officer for the 2022 nationals, then you had your work cut out for you. So, many thanks to our race officer Brian Sutherland for an outstanding job. Light airs made for some tricky and difficult course setting and sailing. Yet, it’s always the top guys that find a way to mitigate their way through the trying conditions.
Beyond the weather gods we were all part of a very special regatta. I said at the start of the Mpumalanga Provincials two weeks prior to the Nationals that there was something brewing in the Hunter Class. That weekend we had 42 boats out and about in the country. The national’s had 28 entries from 8 different clubs around the country. What made this a truly astonishing regatta was that we didn’t have people entering to make up numbers. All 28 boats essentially started and finished all the races (excluding discards). Even better, the number of families on the water. A quick perusal of the score sheet shows half the fleet to consist of family teams. Two of which were in the medals.
As for the racing itself, it was competitive. There were first places strewn across the score sheet. In the end, as it always does, it comes down to the consistency factor. If you were there or there abouts throughout the regatta you were on the podium. John and Calis Bruckmann never won a race but came third to prove the point. And then there was the battle between the top two. In the end Herbert and Warren Karolius were too good for Luke Wagner and Craig Millar. Both Herbert and Luke are multiple National’s winners. This year Herbert seemed to always be in the right place all the time. One competitor described him as a cunning fox. I describe his ability as class and his previous record proves the point.
Then there was the rest of us. I must say this fleet is getting better every year now. More and more we are starting to see finishers up to places 15 and 16 starting to influence the podium. This bodes well for the future of the class. Having chatted to the top guys in the fleet; they’re super chuffed with the improved level of boat speed in the fleet. The one criticism however is the fleets general knowledge of the rules. There are too many incidents that are; and for lack of a better phrase; not being prosecuted. The committee will be looking into finding a solution to this problem this year.
John Whitmore in his 1980’s book, The Winning Mind (part of the Sail to Win Series) pointed out that the most intellectually demanding sporting event behind Formula One racing was the America’s Cup. The difference of course being the speed differentials. I don’t think it would be unfair to extrapolate that sailboat racing is cognitively extremely demanding. It’s the sheer volume of interacting and competing variables at play. The reason I make this point is to encourage those at the back of the fleet to keep at it. You might not be winning but the effort to simply get around the course is an achievement. The difference between those at the back and those at the front is not intellect. It’s experience and talent to read the circumstances better and react to them faster. Even if you are a point-to-point cruising type, the experience of being forced to sail a boat on all points of sail under pressure is invaluable. In fact, I would argue that one learns more racing a Hunter in one race at our national’s than reaching your boat from one side of the dam or bay to the other fifty-two Sundays in a year. So therefore, I don my cap to all of those of you who might not be in the winner’s circle but started and finished every race. I promise you, you are a much better yachtsmen for it.
In conclusion. What an incredibly well-run regatta. My sincere gratitude to everybody involved. Deneysville Aquatic Club has been voted to host the Hunter Nationals 2023. Witbank thought they were good. Watch this space folks.