Chris Links Secures 5th Victory, Clinching the 2024 Melges 24 Australian Championship
Geelong, Australia - January 29, 2024 - The 2024 Melges 24 Australian National Championship and the Festival of Sails were held on January 26-28, hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club. It was about celebrating the legacy of Australia's oldest sporting event, dating back to 1844, and was proudly marking its 180th Anniversary in 2023. Now in its 181st year, the Festival of Sails has transformed into the nation's grandest regatta week!
It was a tough competition as Melges 24 teams battled it out to claim the prestigious title of Australian champion. The question was: "Will Chris Links and BANTA defend their crown?"
Racing recap by Kevin Nixon, ACCRU:
"Day One races kicked off with a light breeze and a significant wind shift from north to southeast. BANDIT emerged victorious in a scramble to the right, rounding the top mark first. A tight reach followed, and as the breeze shifted even further southeast, the committee laid a new mark. Although BANDIT reached it first, a tackle hiccup led to a reversal of positions. Steve O’Rourke and PANTHER crossed the line first, with us (ACCRU) in second and COBRA in third. After a protest, BANDIT was reinstated at first.
In the second race, a 10-12 knot southeasterly wind favored AMIGOS, who headed right and sailed flawlessly to victory. Bandit faced early challenges but persevered. With few passing lanes, it turned out to be a tricky race.
Today's forecast promised excitement with a projected 20+ knots from the west, creating shifty and windy conditions. Hold on tight!
Day two was a wild ride! Races in 25-32 knots delivered unbelievable downwind thrills. The first race showcased intense competition, with boats finishing within a 10-second window. The second race became a survival test upwind, gripping and exhilarating downwind.
On day three, we departed from the marina with a forecasted 15 knots of westerly wind and sailed down the shipping channel for 9 miles to reach our starting line. When we reached the starting area, the wind had increased to 15 to 20 knots, signaling another challenging day ahead.
All three races were closely contested, with the lead changing hands numerous times. BANTA consistently excelled on the last run. Race 5 saw four boats crossing the finish line within a tight 11-second window. Races 6 and 7 were also fiercely competitive.
The journey back up the channel proved to be a long slog, taking two hours with the wind now ranging from 20 to 25 knots.
On day four, we successfully lobbied to move our course area back to the inner harbor. However, racing was delayed for an hour due to a lack of wind. Eventually, race 8 commenced with approximately 7 knots of wind, but shortly after the start, the breeze shifted 90° to the left. A new mark was laid after the first lap, but by then, PANTHER and BANTA had surged far ahead of the rest of the fleet.
A prolonged wait ensued for the breeze to settle before race nine could start, only to be abandoned due to another significant breeze change. The fleet was then directed back to shore, and a race of its own began - a race to be the first to reach the crane."
The podium was exactly the same as it was in 2023:
1. BANTA AUS679 - Chris Links
2. ACCRU AUS814 - Kevin Nixon
3. AMIGOS AUS816 - Peter Kendall