Youth to the fore in Winter Series

The skills and enthusiasm of young sailors has contributed to the impressive performance of at least two yachts contesting the Combined Clubs Winter Series, Jazz Player and Crusader.

Jazz Player, a New Zealand designed and built a Bakewell-White Z39, owned and skippered by John Dryden, a member of the Kettering Yacht Club and the Derwent Sailing Squadron, finished second in Division 1 of last Sunday’s race, beaten by just 36 seconds for first place. A close third was the Melges 32 Crusader, helmed by Jacinta Cooper in the absence of husband Brett, the SB20 sportsboat champion. Both boats were crewed predominantly by young sailors, Crusader’s crew including Jacinta’s teenage daughters Indy (14) and Jorja (16).

Apart from John Dryden, the oldest crew member of Jazz Player is aged 23 and the crew boss Finlay Cooper is just 19. Most of the young crew are former dinghy sailors from Kingston Beach Sailing Club, south of Hobart. John Dryden originally bought Jazz Player from her Melbourne owners last year with the aim of doing the next Melbourne to Osaka two-handed race. She arrived at Kettering last October.

“In order to learn what makes Jazz Player tick, we have embarked on a fully-crewed program for this coming season with a focus on a youth crew led by Finlay,” Dryden said yesterday.

“Fin, now 19, has been a critical member of our crew since he was 15. We did our first Launceston to Hobart together on Prion, just days after his 16th birthday. The strength of the crew lies in the fact that they are all eager and focused learners and strong, natural leaders with heaps of initiative and a real commitment to the environment…. reflecting the strength of Tasmanian youth sailing scene and the Channel community which are together developing great kids and able sailors,” Dryden added.

“Jazz is in great hands with these really competent sailors who are always eager to find that extra edge.” Dryden, who is secretary of Kettering Yacht Club, added: “Our next endeavour? We are currently working towards a major ocean race and hopefully that will be the Sydney Hobart. Otherwise, very keen for a highly competitive Launceston to Hobart.”

Finlay Cooper said the crew ranged in age from 18 to 23. “Most of us sailed Lasers at Kingston Beach Sailing although the eldest has recently returned from sailing in tall ships overseas,” he said. “Five of us are still involved at Kingston Beach as instructors in the Tackers program.”

Talking of last Sunday’s second on corrected time of the Cookson 50, Oskana, Fin said Jazz Player had “good boat speed but we need to improve crew work in a few areas.”

The Derwent Sailing Squadron is conducting Sunday’s scheduled third race of the Winter Series with the race starting off Castray Esplanade from 9.40am.

Sunday, 6 September, has been set for a resail of race one of the Combined Clubs Winter Series, which was postponed due to lack of wind.

Interstate, the COVID-19 escalation has seen the cancellation of Hamilton Island Race Week, scheduled for August, due to problems for the race management team coming from New South Wales and Victoria. Airlie Beach Race Week is going ahead as planned as is Magnetic Island Race.

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is still closed due to the Vice Commodore and his partner being infected with the virus. This Sunday’s winter racing has been cancelled and the club is looking at the viability of running the Sydney Gold Coast Race, already rescheduled from July to 1 October.

At this stage the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is going ahead, with the CYCA reviewing the situation in mid-October.

Words: Peter Campbell
Photos: Jane Austin, Peter Watson
31 July 2020

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