Protests, swells fail to stop AEG claiming the honours in Lady Bay

ADELAIDE sailors Greg Allison and Allen Blenkle have overcome protests and huge swells to take first place in the Fireball International Australian championships.

Held in Warrnambool’s Lady Bay over five days, Allison and Blenkle spent the first four in second place aboard AEG, improving each day to finish yesterday on 12 points.

The pair were challenged by a competitor on days four and five with claims of propulsion, according to Blenkle.

“We had one yesterday because we were becoming more and more of a threat,” Blenkle said yesterday. “The second today was withdrawn.”

Michael Thomson skippered Kiss into second place with 15 points and John Heywood was third aboard Renegade with 22.

Allison said preparing for races like Fireball was all-consuming, which meant the win was emotional.

“It was a tough day, pretty challenging,” he said.

“There is a lot of preparation in the build-up to the race. You start planning six months ago and training two to three nights (a week), plus the weekends. It impacts your whole life.”

He said conditions on the final day of competition were pleasant.

“Today it was light and variable and I think it did work in our favour,” he said.

Blenkle, who has many sailing titles to his name, said the favourable conditions meant the fleet was condensed and therefore more competitive and enjoyable racing.

Seventeen yachts from Victoria and South Australia competed. The first Victorian to place was Phil Peverell in fifth.

Blenkle praised the facilities at the Warrnambool Yacht Club.

In March, Allison and Blenkle will attend the world championships in Thailand, where Allison has previously placed fourth.

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