Champion Lakes sailor Sean Wallis has won the Marblehead Class Australian Championship held at Yarrawonga, VIC over 20-22 February.
Champion Lakes was represented by four sailors at the championship, Glenn Dawson, Sean Wallis, Cliff Davis & Simon Ellis. For Sean it was a late decision to participate and was one driven by the off chance of a Marblehead coming up for sale in New Zealand. It was a Grunge, a rare find on the second hand market, built at Robot Yachts, finished off with BG sails and rigs and it had been rarely sailed. Sean made contact and the deal was done. But, how to get it to WA? The freight was going to be very expensive.
Fortunately for Sean, travel around Australia and New Zealand could be part of his job, so the arrangement was made for Sean to fly over and bring the boat back as luggage. What turned up in Yarrawonga was a brand spanking new M with everything ready to go.
Most of day 1 was sailed in B rig, and the WA boys were reasonably comfortable using the conventional rigs. Glenn had some rudder and steering issues and Simon had a day to forget, losing communication with his boat, having more than his fair share of weed as well as a broken jib sheet and a winch line break. Sean managed to sink his boat after a patch popped. Luckily the water was fresh, and Steve Sedgmen jumped in to save it before it went under.
On day 2, the wind started out slightly lighter and the swing rigs came out. Well, that was something different for us! A few tips from some of our more experienced M mates from the east, and at least we had rigs that looked OK. It didn't last all that long, and pretty soon the conventional rigs were back. Sean kept in touch with some really good starting and smart sailing.
Day three arrived with light north-easterly winds. All the weed that had blown up the course over the last three days was on its way back! The swing rigs were out again, but there was pressure building. Glenn started the day well - first race in C fleet was a win, then a come from behind win in the B fleet race and a second place finish in the A fleet, with a rig change in there somewhere.
Sean came out of the blocks winning the first race of day 3, while his closest competitors slipped slightly. His scoreline on day 3 would finish up reading 1,1,4,1 which was very impressive. Victorian Scott Fleming actually took the lead at the overall end of the second last race by one point. At that time, the wind decided to take a holiday, whilst the last C fleet was racing. The first boat only just made it in the time limit, so the race did not have to be re-sailed.
The B fleet race was also hit by soft to no wind, and it was starting to look a bit doubtful as to whether the last A fleet race would get away on time. Fortunately, a light breeze kicked in which allowed the B race to finish and the A to start. Sean got out off the start line really well and took a narrow lead. Scott Fleming was right on his tail until the top mark the second time, when Sean managed to slip around and take off, whilst Scott was left flopping up and down in the slop with no wind.
Simon learnt an awful lot about Ms, and will be much better for the outing. Glenn showed glimpses of form with a few seconds and thirds, but a lot to do before being a serious contender with Glenn finishing a creditable eleventh overall, Cliff sailing his Marblehead Boogie (pictured above left) for the first time finished thirtyth and Simon thirty third.
Sean's performance was impressive. His boat was fast right out of the box, which allowed him to concentrate on starting, tactics and racing and was enough for him to claim the championship.
Pictured is Sean at the presentation of the Australian Marblehead Class trophy to go alongside the Australian One Metre Class Australian Championship trophy which he won last year at the Gold Coast.