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    SAILING SUCCESS: Horsham Yacht Club commodore Rick Walker, left, with the ACE Challenge perpetual trophy, and 2019 champion Ryan Walker, with his individual trophy and $300 prize money. Picture: LOTTE REITER

First-time challengers set sailing standard in ACE Challenge

Horsham Yacht Club commodore Rick Walker believes continuing an ACE Challenge sailing competition will be key to securing the club’s future.

After testing the waters of the inaugural event across the last four weekends of November, Mr Walker said he was ‘very’ pleased and keen to expand upon it in coming years. 

“We’ve had come-and-try days before and no one turned up. We’ve had boats rigged up for Kannamaroo to try and show people that this is what a boat looks like – nothing happened,” he said.

“This has been the only thing that has happened in about 33 years that’s been positive. It’s reaching people and that’s the key.

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“The yacht club is being talked about and if that doesn’t grow something, I don’t know what will.”

The month-long challenge involved individual competitors taking turns to race single catamarans twice around a designated course, in attempts to post the best time.

Apart from each other, challengers were also trying to match the time of an anonymous and experienced sailor – the ‘ACE’.

Mr Walker said while two of the weekends were struck by poor wind, making it impossible for inexperienced sailors to navigate the course, eight people rose to the challenge across the remaining two event days.

At a presentation dinner on Sunday, Mr Walker announced Horsham’s Ryan Walker, with a time of 10 minutes 11 seconds, as the first ACE Challenge winner.

Ararat’s Joanne Page was runner-up after racing a time of 12 minutes 30 seconds.

In addition to winning a trophy, $300 from Horsham’s Nuseed and the first ACE Challenge title, Mr Walker was also the only competitor to beat the ACE’s time.

The 19-year-old chef, from the United Kingdom, said it was an ‘unexpected win’ considering his unfamiliarity with the sport.

“I’ve had experience in other water sports like rowing since I was young, but I had never actually sailed before. This was my first time being in a boat like that,” he said.

“It’s definitely good fun, and there’s a bit of a sense of pride there from winning and beating the ACE. 

“It’s nice to have your name as the first one on the trophy as well. 

“If I’m here next year I might defend that and try and get my name down again.”

Mr Walker encouraged other people in the region to have a go when the second ACE Challenge sets sail next year.

“It’s a fun experience that’s definitely worth doing,” he said.

Mr Walker said he would like to see up to 28 people, from a broad age range, take on the challenge next year.

– Lotte Reiter

The entire November 27, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire November 27, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!