90th Stonehaven Regatta – 2019 RBYC

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The day started off cloudy and grey and barely a breath of wind, which wasn’t a concern as the first order of business was the naming ceremony for the latest addition to RBYC’s fleet – RS Quest #1472 – ‘John Akhurst’.

It was a privilege to have Mr Akhurst in attendance just days away from his 100th birthday for the naming and launch of the Quest named in his honour. John was Chair of the Cadet Dinghy Committee during the 1950’s, where he had oversight of the boat rebuilding program and led the Victorian team to multiple Stonehaven Cup successes.

Mr Akhurst became the first 80-year member in 2013, a milestone in his life and the history of our club. We recognise John’s life and his contribution to the sport of yachting.

In christening Quest #1472, Margo Kimpton, John’s daughter, related her experience as a young girl at RBYC during the times before women and girls were allowed to be members at RBYC – how she was ‘smuggled in’ to watch the boys set up their Cadet dinghies in the Youth Program, as it was ‘back in the day’ – much to the delight of the young sailors present at today’s launching. Margo made the point that all boats with the ‘John Akhurst’ moniker had a long and illustrious record of success and those who sail in the new ‘John Akhurst’ will always need to be giving their very best performance.

After 94 years of history, the Stonehaven Cup and the many youth programs that were run for all those years, preparing kids to participate in the regatta, number in the thousands. Fond memories of the Australian 12 Foot Cadet dinghy and the shenanigans that the participants got up to during these events are legendary and form the fabric of the lives of so many sailors today.

It is well known that the Stonehaven Cup is the longest continuously contested junior one-design dinghy trophy in Australian yachting. Much to the dismay of all the ‘old Cadet boys and girls’ this will be the first time the competition will be conducted using the new RS Quest dinghies. This is an historic occasion for both the Stonehaven Cup competition and RBYC – the trustees of the Stonehaven Cup.

In moving from the much loved 12 Foot Cadet Dinghy to the RS Quest for the youth training program and subsequently the Stonehaven Cup competition last season, the review committee looked at the key boat selection criteria, namely – three or four young crew, seaworthy, easily handled, easily maintained, one design and produced world-wide.

The RS Quest provides all of the opportunities that the 12 Foot Cadet provided but with a contemporary look, a modern sail plan and moderate performance.

The 90th Stonehaven Cup in 2019 will see young sailors from Royal Brighton Yacht Club, King Island Boat Club, Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron, St Helens Sailing Squadron.

Over 70 RS Quests have been sold around Australia since their release just 18 months ago, with nearly all acquired by clubs for training purposes. The future of the event looks very promising indeed.

Open Division Competition
An Open Division is also being run during the event with the primary objective being to provide opportunities for less experienced young people to be introduced to the Stonehaven Cup competition and community under the guidance of adults.

That said, there are no age restrictions for the Open Division and crew size may be 3 or 4 to accommodate a wide range of crew configurations. The RS Quest can comfortably carry up to three adults, so you might for example put together a crew of one or two adults with one or two young people, or you might be three young adults who have aged out of the youth event.

The sailing proper got off to a slow start with the weather improving once the crews hit the water for the two introductory “Invitation Races”. All crews left the beach with their ‘race faces’ on. A light southerly breeze from 210 degrees at about 4-5 knots.

Author: Ray Smith