Hobson rises to the challenge but Press in control at 12ft Skiff Interdominion

The 12ft Skiff Interdominion is shaping up to be a humdinger between two Australian and two New Zealand entries, with the Aussies getting the upper hand today, including the Brett Hobson skippered Geotherm staging a comeback to move up to second place, but it’s Sydney Sailmakers, steered by Nick Press which has a target on its stern.

Brett Hobson/Brad Phillips aboard Geotherm stayed cool under pressure in the 15-17 knot nor’ easterly of Race 2 today, to hold off challenges from the defending champions on C-Tech White, Alex Vailings/Fraser Brown (NZL), Sydney Sailmakers, As Good As It Gets, Glenn Armstrong/Roger Barnes (NZL) and Little Bus (Chris Reid/Andrew Clarke (NZL).

In the end, it could not have been closer, as Geotherm pipped C-Tech White by 29 seconds, with Sydney Sailmakers (Nick Press/Andrew Stevenson) grabbing third place on the shortened course which took the 28-boat fleet from the Double Bay start, to Nielsen Park, Shark Island, Clark Island, Nielsen Park to the Double Bay finish.

Hobson admitted this afternoon, “The wheels fell off a bit yesterday, but we had a much better day.”

He and Phillips did not have it easy; they fought for every second to the finish. “It’s a little bit pressured with all the others so close around us, but we (he and Phillips) spoke about it between races and we think it’s good to be pushed.”

Capsizes were frequent and those aboard the spectator ferry were treated to some spectacular ones, some just before the finish line.

Race 3 and it was much of the same, except the north-easterly built to 20-22 knots, stretching the friendship with the number 2 rigs favoured by most. Only one or two used the No. 3 and were more comfortable in the bigger breeze.

It was on again between the favoured Aussies and the best two Kiwi crews as the skiffs headed to Nielsen Park for the first time. Sydney Sailmakers, C-Tech White and Geotherm got the early jump and stayed close on the course while around them spectators were treated to more thrills and spills as many failed to stay upright.

Sailing upwind to Nielsen Park the second time, C-Tech White vanished from view, leaving Sydney Sailmakers and Geotherm to tough it out, leaving the rest of the fleet almost out of sight.

Press had the advantage on the run back to Double Bay. Hobson gybed two or three times and Press went with him to cover, and although he closed the gap, it was a little late as the two drag-raced to the finish, just five seconds between them on the line.

Over a minute later, Maersk (Adam Forbes/Alex Johnson) finished third, with Little Bus (Chris Reid/Andrew Clarke) fourth 12 seconds later. C-Tech had capsized and lost ground to finish eighth.

But spare a thought for Michael Spies/Robbie Polec on Hempel Yacht Paints, who 50 metres from the finish capsized. Spies valiantly held the boat upright as long as he could, but succumbed. Lucky the tide was incoming and the pair floated across with the boat on its side.

“We broke a wire and the spinnaker pole broke in half,” said Spies admitting he was relieved tomorrow is a lay day, giving him time to repair.

With three races put to bed, Sydney Sailmakers leads Geotherm by two points, Little Bus by six points and the defending champs on C-Tech White by eight points.

“In Race 2, we didn’t have the boat speed we had yesterday; we had to work hard for our third place. It’s unreasonable to expect to win every race, but it’s nice to have three races without a big one to drop,” Sydney Sailmakers crew Andrew Stevenson said, referring to a race drop.

Of the competition, Stevenson said, “There’s been no real surprises; we expected Geotherm and the two Kiwi boats to be consistently good.”

Geotherm’s Brett Hobson said they were happier with today’s results. “We’re a lot happier, we’re sailing more consistently. Nick’s (Press) the man to beat and todays results keep us in touch with him. He’s got a quick boat and he rarely makes a mistake.”

On their fight to the finish in Race 3, Hobson said, “When C-Tech capsized, it left us free to do what we wanted. We figured the only way to beat Nick was to throw a few gybes at him on the last run. We shortened the distance between us, but the gybes weren’t clean ones, we could have closed the gap more.”

The 12ft skiffs will enjoy a lay day tomorrow, some plan on taking in the sights of Sydney, while others will work on their boats at Double Bay next to the 18 Footers Footers League at Double Bay and Double Bay Sailing Club, which are playing host to the 12 Foot Skiff Interdominion.

Full results, news and photos: www.skiff.org.au

Di Pearson, 12ft skiff media

(Photo by Vita Williams)