Royal Brighton Yacht Club recently competed in the inaugural National Sailing League, held in Sydney Harbour by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, from April 26 to 28.
The concept of the event is very simple: a series of fleet races put club against club, in order to find the best youth (under 21) and open team in Oceania. This format has been brought over from Europe, where its great popularity grants them a large competitors’ base, largely made of world-class sailors.
Our National event in Sydney saw 14 entries, one of which from New Zealand. It was action-packed and fast-paced weekend, with tens of races disputed, lasting only around 12 minutes each; teams had to be at their best all the time with crew manoeuvres, communication and strategy. Key to succes is focusing on the start first shift and making sure you’re always in the best wind.
One of the most exciting aspects of the regatta was the ability for youth teams to race against the Nation’s best professionals, household names such as Ben Lamb, World Etchells champion and America’s Cup Sailor; Ben has always been keen to provide our team with any advice throughout the event. Having the ability to rub shoulders with some of the world’s best sailors was one of the highlights for our young sailors.
Team Brighton competed in both the Open and Youth division since all members are under 21 years of age: Laura Harding, 49er skipper, helmed the Elliot 7, leading the team to a number of victories across the event. Along with her, Laura Thompson did headsails, Charlie Dixon did spinnaker trim, James Grogan was on mainsail duty and tactics, and Lachie Grogan as bowman.
The team very quickly picked up on the key areas of bigger boat sailing and handling, and showed how our dinghy sailors can transfer their expertise across to the larger boats very efficiently.
Team Brighton placed 3rd overall in the Youth division and 8th overall out of 14 teams. In addition to that, Team Brighton placed first overall Victorian Club. We’re all really looking forward at repeating this experience next year!