Aaron Kirkby and Matt Hall in 3185 ‘You Can’t’
Photo by Dave Swadling

The Australian Cherub fleet met blustery conditions at Wangi Wangi for yesterday’s invitation race at the Vaikobi 58th Australian National Cherub Championship. A strong nor-easter built steadily into the afternoon, bringing large swell and waves of up to two metres on Lake Macquarie. Wind readings averaged in the early 20s, topping 26 knots at nearby Norah Head weather station.

Aaron Kirkby and Matt Hall took out the Invitation Race as the first and only finishing boat out of 42 cherubs in 3185 ‘You Can’t.’ Their impressive performance began with crossing a jam-packed start line and enduring extreme conditions while the fleet quickly dwindled due to breakages and exhaustion.

Many spectacular nose dives, pitchpoles, and cartwheels made for a highly entertaining show for spectators.

Huon Saul and Simon Mercer pitchpoling in 3094 ‘Lick This.’
Photo by Rolf Lunsmann

A mass exodus shortly followed, with a steady return of boats to the Wangi Amateur RSL Sailing Club as the breeze wreaked havoc across the course.

Left: Morgan York and Adam Cooke in 3189 ‘Hooligan’
Right: Eve Peel and Hugo Darin in 3194 ‘Steve’
Photos by Dave Swadling

Minimal injuries were recorded, but several sailors cheekily reported that both spirits and egos were severely bruised. Some vessels, however, weren’t so lucky.

After doing the rounds at last night’s social pub crawl at the Wangi Workers, multiple crews reported serious impending repairs to complete before the first official races of the regatta. Some of these included:

3133: Broken lowers
3187: Broken lowers (hardware snapped)
3104: Vang and outhaul snapped off the boom
3077: Tiller Snapped clean in half, rudder gantry tried to abandon ship and “vibrate itself off”
3157: Port Spreader M.I.A
3181: Jib sheet cleat ripped out
3197: Kite retrieval block broke
3059: Transom bar cracked

Despite challenging conditions, regatta entrant numbers have seen a healthy return following the COVID-19 pandemic, with 42 boats registered to race from seven different sailing clubs across the country. Ten boats successfully travelled from Western Australia via container, with the 32 remaining boats from NSW. The regatta is the first Cherub National Titles held since the 2019/2020 57th National Championship took place at Darling Point, Brisbane.

The first official race begins on December 29, east of Fishing Point on Lake Macquarie’s racetrack. The Wangi Wangi foreshore is perfect for viewing, with the remaining forecast for the week promising consistent sea breeze from the Northeast. Yesterday’s live stream is available on the Cherub National Council of Australia’s Facebook page.

Results for the series are available on SAILRES.com.

Head to the Cherub Facebook page, Instagram page and Sea Gal’s socials for more photos and full regatta media coverage.

By Sarah Imlay