Chris Links Wins 2023 Melges 24 Australian Title, for the 4th Time
Hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club (RGYC), the Festival of Sails is Australia's oldest sporting event dating back to 1844 celebrating its 180th Anniversary this year. The event has evolved into Australia’s biggest regatta week with 297 boats, 2,750 competitors, and tens of thousands of visitors flocking to shoreside venues to soak-up the regatta atmosphere.
Banta is the 2023 Melges 24 Australian Champion. Chris Links and his solid crew from NSW were a force to be reckoned with. Banta hardly faltered, scoring a victory in eight out of nine races. The second was a past champion in Kevin Nixon’s ACCRU crew, also from NSW, pushing Banta all the way with podium finishes in all but two races. Peter Kendall’s Amigos crew were third and the only ones to take a race from Banta.
Seven Melges 24 teams enjoyed four days of racing along with festival activities ashore. The days started with light wind racing in the mornings building up to 18-24 knots in the afternoons, where Melges 24’ could enjoy their favourite moves in downwind.
According to Kevin Nixon, it was a great composition of Melges 24 teams gathered in Geelong - the city, which used to be very industrial back in the 60-70ties but is a beautiful resort now. Kevin was kind enough to give some insights to the teams who were attending.
The most admirable stalwart of the Australian class is 80 years old Stephen O’Rourke who is still steering his own boat M24 Panther. Very remarkable is the fact that he was leading Race 7 when had to withdraw from the race and the rest of the event due to a major back problem.
Faradenza team of Daniel Vinkl is originally from the Czech Republic and they are great supporters of the class. Daniel's father, who is also a past Melges 24 owner in the Czech Republic, came out to Australia to help the boys with their training and development and as a result of that, are starting to make improvements.
Cobra team of Andrew Colliver has been making steady gains over the last year with the introduction of a few young guys. A broken main halyard in Race 7 probably cost them a chance for a 3rd place…
No Mercy of Burke Melia continues to push at the front of the fleet with some great finishes and a total result of 31 points, just two points separating from the podium.
Amigos of Peter Kendall, past NSW Champions, was the only boat to take a race off Banta. This is a great 4-up family team and bow lady Anna declared she was pregnant while racing last weekend. An amazing effort considering a great deal of the racers were over 20 knots!
Although Banta with Chris Links, multiple Australian Melges 24 champion, was convincing on the scoreboard, there were some very close finishes.