Willy Packer Claims Dragon National Title

Willy Packer Claims Dragon National Title

Congratulations to Willy Packer and his crew, Julian Harding & Denis Cullity who have won The Prince Philip Cup – the Australasian Dragon Championships. Photo taken by Rick Steuart – Perth Sailing Photography

Read John Fullerton's account on the Final Day of Racing:-

In the Prince Philip Cup 2013-14 local Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club sailors, Willy Packer and his crew, Denis Cullity and Julian Harding just had to sail like they had been all week and finish with a top six position to lift the Prince Philip Cup but they had to do it the hard way.

The early morning start was delayed by two hours waiting for the breeze to fill, but when it did the fleet of 26 Dragons from Western Australia, NSW, Victoria and Internationals from Germany and the UK, were treated to a classic Perth summer day with azure skies, warm sunshine and a gentle 8 – 10 knot breeze from anywhere between 210 – 240 degrees.

With the main contenders carrying a heavy discard the overall result was Willy Packer’s to lose but not for the first time this week he was on the second row when the gun fired. There were no surprises as to who claimed the pin as his own, the legendary octogenarian Dragon supremo Gordon Ingate (Whimsical) out of the blocks and controlling the fleet on the left. Packer tacked over to the Western shore of the Swan River to clear his lines.

British based Dragon sailor Rob Campbell (Linnea) with his local Western Australian crew, John Moncrieff, John Low and young James Stout, needed to win the last race of the regatta with Willy Packer finishing lower than seventh to steal the silverware and early in the race Campbell was in the hunt.

Campbell rounded the windward mark just behind Gordon Ingate with Grant Alderson (Taranui) hot on his tail. Campbell’s casual spinnaker hoist lost a boat length but Willy Packer was buried in 13th place and struggling.

Packer gybed on the spreader mark and headed for clear air to lay chase. It was a smart move because he sniffed some patches of pressure that lifted him from 13th to eighth by the gate rounding.

On the second lap of the three lap windward-leeward course, Gordon Ingate and his crack crew, David Giles and Brad Sheridan showed their experience getting in phase with the oscillating breeze and extending on every leg.
Rob Campbell’s hopes were fading fast and he was now being hunted by the local Western Australian former Flying Fifteen World Champions, Grant Alderson and Dean McAullay sailing with WA female champion sailor Adele Jackson and future sailing sensation 11 year old Lucy Alderson.

On the third lap Ingate’s lead was up to 45 seconds and Packer was slowly picking off the places to move up to seventh with superior downwind speed.

Gordon Ingate cruised over the finish line to take the gun and a well earned third place overall, the only boat to register two wins in the seven race regatta

Rob Campbell had to settle for second and second overall, covering Alderson to the line to finish the job, but it was the consistency and tenacity that finally sealed the deal for Willy Packer as he crossed in sixth to win the Prince Philip Cup for the second time in his career.

The battle for third overall was settled in favour of Sydney based Gordon Ingate over the visiting Dragon supremo from Germany, Tommy Muller who did not have the best of days finishing eighth on the water.

'It was such a tight regatta, so many people could have won, there were five boats that were in there, the win yesterday made the game. Overall we started badly but we got some huge shifts of wind and we were awesome downwind. A great regatta and all the guys have been saying these are the best courses we have ever had.' Willy Packer

The 2014 Prince Philip Cup will be remembered for outstanding courses, a great mixture of sailing conditions ranging from 8 – 25 knots, fantastic hospitality and the usual Dragon family atmosphere which is synonymous with the class.

The Prince Philip Cup was organised by the Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club in conjunction with the West Australian International Dragon Association.

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