Melges champion Northshore Marine turns sights to world domination

Sunday, 27 January 2013


Northshore Marine claimed victory in the Melges 24 championships by the narrowest of margins, marking the end of an era for the class that’s been dominated by Bandit for the past two years.

It was less than a perfect performance on day four at the Festival of Sails for Northshore Marine’s skipper Chris Links, who posted his worst result of the regatta in the final race, placing sixth in the mild conditions, an 8-10 knot sou’easter on Corio Bay.  Luckily he had claimed the win in the first race of two.

With one drop allowed, Links’ crew broke a two-way-tie with Kevin Nixon’s all-family crew aboard Accru to finish just one point ahead on 21 and secure the Parks Victoria Melges 24 Australian Trophy.

Just three points separated the top three teams, with former champions Bandit, skippered by Warwick Rooklyn, rounding out the podium finishers with 23 points.

The Northshore Marine crew will now turn their sights to the Melges 24 world titles that will be hosted by the Royal Geelong Yacht Club in January 2014.

“In that last race it was hard not to think about the results, but we didn’t ever give up, we always thought we could come back,’’ Northshore Marine crewman Heath Walters said.

“We were just ecstatic with the overall result. It’s fantastic how close it is, it just shows the quality of the fleet and that can only get better ahead of the worlds.”

The four-day regatta has made for the perfect test bed for race officials ahead of hosting the world’s best.

The Australian Melges 24 Class Association president Warwick Rooklyn said it would be the first time the fleet’s worlds have been contested in the Southern Hemisphere.

“It’s a big coup for Australia, for Geelong and the Royal Geelong Yacht Club,’’ he said. “To back it up to the Festival of Sails is a great thing.”

Competitors from America, Italy and Japan have already expressed interest in competing in the event that attracts some of the world’s greatest sailing champions.

While it’s been great for the Australian teams to race in Corio Bay over the Australia Day weekend, Rooklyn doubts it would give any advantage come next year.

“It’s always better to have sailed at a venue and have that knowledge, but I can tell you the top guys will wrap their heads around it real quick. They’ll be doing their research. A lot of them would have sailed here. It’s going to be a strong competition.”

The fleet’s super lightweight young-gun James Huon says he can’t wait to compete against the heavyweights at the world titles.

The nine-year-old has had a steep learning curve under the stewardship of his father Damian on board Huey II.

He made a rare and giant leap from racing an Optimist that he got for Christmas just over a year ago, to competing on board the super slick Melges 24s in less than 12 months.

“I just sort of always liked playing with ropes, cleats and pullies and stuff,’’ he said. “But I didn’t like sailing at first, then I started to like it because of all the tipping. When dad got this boat I started to really like it.”

The 31-kilogram pint-sized crewman not only balances out some of the otherwise “heavy” crew, but he proves dynamic with many on board duties Damian said.

“He’s a great hand,’’ he said. “He tip-toes around, sets up the kite, works the jib downwind and calls all the other boat. It’s so great to have him out there with us, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Full results

Lisa Ratcliff - Media Manager

See Yacht Racing - regattas > Melges 24 images


The 2013 Festival of Sails will commence with two days of high performance racing with the Audi IRC Australian Championship fleet racing in Geelong from Thursday 24th January, from the Royal Geelong Yacht Club.

The historic Melbourne to Geelong passage race, which sees over 200 boats at a mass start off Melbourne, will take place on Friday 25th January. The truly unique 34nm race has nearly three times as many starters as the Sydney to Hobart, and waters of Port Phillip enable the spectator fleet to follow the race participants all the way to Geelong and then join them as a part of the festival action.

Australia Day (Saturday 26th January) is the start of the community Shoreside Festival and when the skies of Geelong will light up with the Bay FM Fireworks Spectacular. Crowds will arrive early to set up blankets and picnics along the waterfront’s best vantage points, to watch the as the fireworks light up the vista of the massive fleet of yachts visiting Geelong.

The on-water action will continue on the waters of Corio Bay from Saturday 26th to Sunday 27th of January. With 19 different divisions catering from the highest performance grand prix racers to trailable cruisers, the varied race action is sure to offer something for everyone. 

The Festival of Sails is proudly supported by the Victorian State Government, City of Greater Geelong and many valued supporting sponsors.


Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th January 2013

Audi IRC Australian Championship (Geelong)

Friday January 25th 2013

Melbourne to Geelong Passage Race – starting off Melbourne

Corio Bay inner and outer harbour racing - Geelong

Saturday January 26th 2013 (Australia Day)

Corio Bay inner and outer harbour racing - Geelong

Shoreside Festival and Entertainment 10:00am to late – Geelong

Bay FM Fireworks Spectacular (sunset) - Geelong

Sunday 27th January 2013

Shoreside Festival and Entertainment 10:00am to late - Geelong

Corio Bay inner and outer harbour racing - Geelong

Monday January 28th 2013

Event Presentations – Royal Geelong Yacht Club

Shoreside Festival and Entertainment 10:00am – 5:00pm - Geelong

For further festival and regatta information visit:




Last Updated ( Sunday, 27 January 2013 )