Australia's Melges 24 East Coast Championships - Adelaide SC Top Brass To Attend

4 November 2011

Melges 24 East Coast Championships - Some of Adelaide Sailing Clubs Top Brass has made the trip to the RPAYC, Newport for this weekend's event, sponsored by Slam, to be held in conjunction with the Pittwater Festival of Sail.

Apart from the National Titles this event will be the largest fleet of Melges 24's racing in Australia to date. The lure of awesome one design racing to Australian Yachties is becoming more apparent as the National Fleet grows. Adelaide competitors have discovered the Melges 24s and are keen to embed the class locally and build a South Australian fleet.

Two boats have made the trip to Newport, long time ocean racer Gary Shanks will race Outrage Us with his crew including son David and Adelaide Sailing Club Board Member Antony Mitton.

Adelaide Sailing Clubs Rear Commodore Dan O'Connell chartered a boat in January and has just taken delivery of US boat Foxtrot AUS 133. Its first float in Australian waters is to be at RPAYC in the East Coast Championships this weekend. Although the hull arrived in Australia in great shape, it's needed a lot of effort to put it together and another long road journey from Adelaide to Pittwater to complete the fitting out. As owner Dan O'Connell said, 'If we manage to get it into the water this weekend, I will be very happy! At this stage we just want to get Heath (Melges Asia Pacific) to check it out and make sure we are ready for the NSW State Titles and the rest of the major regattas around the country. Given the chance, though, we do want to get out there this weekend and really give it its first go!'

The boat will be jointly campaigned by experienced M24 and sports boat sailor, Dave Alexander and owner Dan O'Connell. The enormous depth of experience onboard Foxtrot will hold the Melges 24 fleet to account.

Dave, a sail maker for over 27 years has competed in over 20 world championships and has ranked in the top three in International 14 World Championships; he is currently ranked third in the I14 Australian Titles. He achieved a first in the Extreme 40s team at Cowes week in 2008 and was the Australian Sports Boat National Champion (tactics). Dave is a current member of the ASC Board and committed to growing the fleet in SA via the ASC.

Dan O'Connell started sailing in Middle Harbour as a junior aged 7 in Flying Ants & Cherubs, as an adult had stints in SA in high performance catamarans, keel boats including 3 S2Hs, at the same time owning and competing in an Australian Sharpie, a class represented highly at Adelaide Sailing Club where Dan currently holds the position of Rear Commodore. With many at Adelaide with similar backgrounds and looking for the next exciting and competitive fleet, the Melges 24 is a natural fit.

Team captain Donna Evans has a very strong background in high performance catamaran sailing with many State Titles and several successful offshore keel boat races, and as the long-term position of President of ASC for many years, Donna is very keen to introduce the competitive class of the M24 to Adelaide to provide the SA competitive members with a new challenge and great interstate rivalry. Donna is taking on the position of PR to the Melges class in SA where the interest is strong from local high calibre sailors.

International crewmember Matilda Ajanko is a visitor to Australia, Matilda met ASC Board Member, Anthony Mitton, in Germany at the recent Int Cadets Worlds and was invited to Adelaide to holiday. Matilda is a sailing instructor in her native Finland and has spent many a campaign in M24s in Europe. In her brief visit to Australia we have managed to convince her to take part in the East Coast Champs and show her what it is like to sail in warm waters!

Game on Melges 24s ...