The 39th International Mirror National Championship was hosted by Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club on the Swan River in Perth. A total of 38 Mirrors competed in this years event. Sailing conditions were varied from drifters to 25+ knots when the "Fremantle Doctor" seabreeze arrived in the afternoons. The sixteen race event rapidly became a three way tussle between Veteran sailors Geoff Brown (WA) sailing with his 15 yo son Tristan versus light weights Mark Barrington (TAS) with his young crew William Maher, and a younger skipper Nic Davis (WA) with a veteran crew John Collova. Barrington raced well in light flukey conditions while Brown performed better in the heavier winds.
The overall winners were Western Australian sailors Nic Davis and crew John Collova sailing their fiberglass Mirror Vigilante VII. Davis and Collova showed remarkable consistency under all conditions with seven first places and four seconds. As usual boat builder Collova provided his skipper with a superbly set up brand new dinghy for the event. It was the last race that determined the overall second place. The Browns had a decisive win in the stronger wind while Barrington and Maher struggled to regain a sixth after a spinnaker wineglass cost them several places. This placed Brown one point ahead of Barrington giving him the Veterans trophy and second place overall.
As usual the Junior and Sub Junior categories were dominated by the Western Australians. Stephen Locke (WA) and Lois Pickering sailing Steamed Up won the Junior Championship ahead of Queenslanders Andrew Turnbull and Tom Wilson who put in a great effort to gain second place. Leon Poutsma (WA) and Marcel La Macchia who had been sailing 420s and Optimists for most of the season sailed the Championship in a borrowed Mirror. Poutsma and LaMacchia totally dominated the Sub Junior Fleet being the first Sub Juniors across the finish line in all but one race. This year the Ladies trophy was won by last years Junior Champion, Western Australian Caroline Pitt, who sailed with a new crew Katelyn Farwell.
Approximately half of the fleet were family crews which is typical for Mirror events. There was strong competition on the water but few incidents. The protest committee had an easy time. However the Committee boat had to call for divers to cut its propeller free when they had a problem with the start line buoy. Mark Pitt
Mark Barrington's Notes: Knowing how strong the Fremantle Doctor is on the Swan River I sailed with a bendy gaff that I had made after being blown off the water in the Perth nationals in 1986. Despite having the main almost literaly flat from gaff bend and lots of vang, in the strong stuff I still had to flatten out the foot a lot (just touching the boom) and let go the vang completely in the stronger gusts. I also found that it was necesary, if I was to stay with Vigilante and No Chance, to move the tack back 80-100mm to further flatten the belly of the main. This I usually did prior to each start when the "Doctor" was in.
The "Doctor" was probably 30+kts but the short fetch made the wind on the water look like only 20kts. Young Will Maher had to quickly develop his muscles to keep hiking harder and longer than ever before. With an all up crew weight of only 92kg we were both working very hard, and getting very tired. The course was on a bend in the river with the channel towards the inside of the bend (left side in a seabreeze). Since the "Doctor" was usually, but not always strongest near the channel it was often difficult to choose whether or not to go left again, with some big gains sometimes being made up the middle or right. Even knowing the tides didn't seem to help, and I relied on watching the large and sustained gusts coming down the course, and watching for shifts on the compass.
There were four races a day and the last two each day were usually in the "Doctor". Each race was only two laps maximum though the windward leg was a good distance. Our spinnaker foul-up in the last race was on the first gybe in the strongest wind of the series, with Kamikaze II up with the leaders in 3rd spot. Conditions were pretty wild and not conducive to a quick untangling so after losing several places Will and I agreed to stow the kite and try to minimise the any further losses downwind. We did well to claw our way back to sixth, not having any speed advantage under those conditions.
Despite the disapointment of losing third and the Veterans trophy we still enjoyed a well run regatta, and managed to keep out of the protest room, unlike the first and second place getters. My thanks to Bruce Maher for his part in the Kamikaze II team effort, and congratulations to young Will Maher for an excellent performance. A highlight of the trip for me was the fun of travelling back across the Nullabor with Bruce and Will.