Heat 1, Woollahra, Saturday 23rd Nov.
Race day, 2 hours before the start-time, awful weather, pouring rain & no breeze.
Rain stopped & with it any vestige of breeze: postponement flag went up and all looked resigned to no-start.
All the skiffs chose the big-rig and sat on the shore awaiting developments.
Signal from the race officer on the course: enough breeze for a start, all scrambling to leave the shore.
Out on the course, surprised to find a nice big-sail North-easter.
Away from a tightly contested start, all the skiffs on the verge of OCS, with Garde (Brett Hobson & Brad Phillips) returning to re-start (unnecessarily as it transpired). Variety (Adam Forbes & Macca Paton) away the best, nervously reviewing start information to see if they were the boat that scored the recall signal. Next was Lincoln Crowne & Company (Jonathan Temple & Richard Jones) mid-line & clear air.
The whole 12 fleet out of the start immediately became embroiled in an Etchell fleet-race, with multiple crossings, dips & circles required for the 2 very different types to extricate themselves from each other’s course, holding up some of the front-runners.
LCC broke from this bunch & obtained a handy lead, which they lost by going East looking for breeze. Also out to the east & in good early placing was Hey Charger (Nick Bernard & Robbie Polec) & Arrogant Frog (Peter & Steve Hill)
The rest of the front-pack went into Chowder Bay & gained a great left-hand shift. This brought Skol (Peter Polec & Jamie McCrudden) first to Beashel Buoy, followed closely by Gemmell Sails (Murray Press & Scott Lanham), then Garde, then Variety followed by LCC, dropped to 5th.
Gybing down to the Shark Is. rounding mark looking for pressure, Garde & Gemmell Sails putting slight gap on the others, maintaining this order to the Clark Is. bottom mark.
On the second work all the leaders other than Variety followed the western shore, Variety going east & this time it paid off, gaining them an impressive early lead on this leg.
Garde however were working their magic, coming back from the restart & ominously heading to put a clincher on the front spot. LCC passed Skol near the Beashel Bouy to round 4th, behind Variety, Gemmell Sails & Garde.
Down the square run in this order, no much change to the margins.
At the bottom mark rounding for the last time it was Garde, Gemmell Sails, Skol with Variety having a poor drop that allowed LCC to go through to leeward into 4th.
The last work saw Garde & Gemmell Sails close & exchanging tacks, with LCC & Variety 80m behind, Skol dropped back 200m into 5th
The breeze freshened for this work, to the top end of big-rig, allowing that boat-handling errors could come into play.
Shorter work to the Gas Buoy off Nielsen Park, Garde hoisted for the run to the finish, followed by Gemmell Sails, then LCC, almost planting it in the bear-away due to operator- error, followed by Variety then Skol, finishing in that order.
Heats 2 & 3, Sunday, 24th Nov.
Forecast south-easterly, 10 knots increasing 15-20 through the day, leaving the rig-choice open between 2nd & third rig. Breeze in early had a few jumpy about the 3rd rig, but sensible heads prevailed & the fleet went 2nd rig.
Start off Shark island for the work up into Rose bay, All the usual suspects away well,
Skol first around, just ahead of Garde then Arrogant Frog well placed, on the long run to Chowder Bay. A Manly ferry split the lead boats mid run, and brought all the skiffs back together, bunched up at the Chowder Bay mark.
Very twitchy & puffy South-Easter, making finding & holding pressure difficult.
Out of Chowder, all the fleet went South to Bradleys Head, Garde 150m ahead of Gemmell Sails, holding like this to the rounding at Shark Island for the run to Taylor Bay.
Garde found better pressure on this run and pulled away from Gemmell sails & Vantage Real Estate (Ben Austin & Brett Phillps).
The front of the fleet all opted to sail South of Shark Island for the work back to the Rose Bay mark, Garde getting through the tricky shifts better than the others & extending the lead, with Vantage Real Estate getting the better of Gemmell Sails to slip into 2nd place.
Run to the finish saw Garde a comfortable win, ahead of Vantage Real Estate second, Gemmell Sails 3rd & Skol 4th.
2nd race, same course, 16 knt breeze.
Off into the race, saw some skiffs opt for the south, with Garde & Vantage Real Estate holding the middle lane, seeing them make a big move away from the pack. Top mark had Garde lead Vantage Real Estate, then www.skiff.org.au (Ben Faulkner & Renn Holland) in a welcome return to form in 3rd, then Skol followed by Lincoln Crowne & Company.
Very shifty on the run, Vantage Real Estate & Garde bolted, with Vantage then suffering a breakage & falling back through the fleet. Lincoln Crowne & Co made big gains on an east pressure line to come through to tie for 2nd with Gemmell Sails. Then, while having to crash gybe to avoid Gemmell Sails, LCC swam, dropping them out of it.
Gemmell Sails trailed Garde by a much reduced margin around the Chowder Bay mark, followed by www.skiff.org then Madonna (David Winning & Peter Bevis) for the work up to Shark Island mark.
Gemmell Sails hung on, & at the mark rounding Garde made a very uncharacteristic mistake, dropping the mainsheet in the bear-away around the mark & swimming backwards. This let the ever zealous Gemmell Sails through to the lead, which they hung onto doggedly for the rest of the race, to win comfortably from Garde, followed by www.skiff.org.au then Madonna.
Final 3 heats of the Lincoln Crowne & Company 12’ Skiff NSW Championship next weekend at Lane Cove 12’ Skiff Club on the Parramatta River.