Sydney Sailmakers outstanding new 12ft Skiff Interdominion champion

The Sydney Sailmakers crew of Nick Press and Andrew Stevenson are the 12ft Skiff Interdominion title holders for 2015 after leading the annual stoush between Australia and New Zealand from the get go to the end on the Sydney Harbour courses.

In today’s final Race 10, sailed in patchy and light north-east and east-nor’ easterly winds, the Sydney Sailmakers crew was able to race without constraint and won the final race by nearly four minutes.

Press said this afternoon: “It’s a great feeling. There was no pressure on us today, so we were relaxed. Little Bus (NZL) and Geotherm were covering each other and C-Tech (NZL) got involved, so we were left to sail the race.”

Sail it they did, escaping the clutches of a big hole in the course near Shark Island that both Little Bus (also known as C-Tech Grey) and C-Tech fell into. Geotherm, skippered by Brett Hobson, who had chosen his No. 2 rig in preparation for the forecast but no-eventuating 20 knot wind (the others had opted for the bigger and more suitable No. 1 rig) saw what was happening and avoided the trap.

This is Press’ sixth Interdominion title and crew Andrew Stevenson’s third. With Brad Yabsley, Press, from Lane Cove 12ft Sailing Skiff Club won the title in 2005, 2010 and 2011. In 2012, 2013 and this time around, it was with Stevenson as for’ard hand. The two’s name will be added to the Silasec Trophy once again for the event alternately in Australia and New Zealand,

Putting more distance between them and the rest of the fleet, Sydney Sailmakers left the two Kiwi boats and Geortherm to slog it out.

“Reido (Little Bus) gybed and got caught in a hole. We didn’t, and that’s where we made our escape,” said Press, who sailed a near-faultless Interdominion.

“We only made a couple of mistakes and it’s all about how you recover and then get on with it. Stevo is a good skipper in his own right, so understands both roles. I attribute our win partially to that,” said Press, who will next sail the Nationals with Stevenson.

Second and third places were not as straightforward. The 2009 Interdominion champion Brett Hobson and crew Brad Phillips (Geotherm) and the Kiwi crew on Little Bus (Chris Reid/Andrew Clarke) sea-sawed back and forwards throughout the 10-race series. Coming into today’s long race, Little Bus/C-Tech Grey held a one point advantage over the Australians.

The defending champions, Alex Vailings/Fraser Brown (C-Tech White) were an outside chance to make it onto the podium, so it goes without saying that the three were always going to go to battle. In the end, the bigger rigged Kiwis beat Geotherm to the punch, sealing second place overall for Little Bus, third for Geotherm and fourth to C-Tech White.

“Geotherm got caught in a C-Tech sandwich,” said Chris Reid afterwards, bemoaning the fact he had finished second overall for a fourth time. “Next time, although I say that every time,” he said laughing.

Brett Hobson was happy he and Phillips were able to keep up with the Kiwis nearly the entire race, despite wearing a smaller rig. “We hoped it would freshen as it was supposed to. It did for a minute and then it died off again.

“We’re OK with our third, the Kiwis kept dumping on us and despite that, we kept pace with them till the last run – even with our smaller rig – I can hardly believe that,” he said.

No other crew could keep the relentless pace and faultless series of Sydney Sailmakers. Not even the defending champions on C-Tech, who were in a class of their own in a big nor’ easter on the penultimate day. Vailings, who has made huge inroads into developing the 12ft skiff over the last few years, sails both 18’s and 12’s. It left no time for practice before heading to Sydney.

Sydney Harbour in the full flourish of summer dished up the best in north-east and east/north-easterly winds, competitors enjoyed first class conditions for all 10 races, from the odd light race in the 8-10 knot region, right up to 25 knots. It does not get any better.

The Teams event for the John Brooke Team’s trophy went to Australia by 119 points, while The Rookie Nimble Trophy for the highest place first time skipper went to Ben De Flutier, the New Zealand skipper of One and In.

The Veterans Advanx Trophy (best skipper over the age of 45) was won by Murray Press, who at 62, is still at the top of his game and finished fifth overall. “The secret is having a good and young crew,” said Press, Nick’s father. “You don’t give up, you keep sailing. It keeps you young and fit and I like the speed and the fun.”

Glenn Farquhar, ‘The Bird’s’ 58 year-old for’ard concurs. “I keep going because it keeps me fit, young and slim. I still love it,” said the skiffie, who has not stopped for 42 seasons.

The 12ft skiff Association thanks Maersk Line, J&J Robertson & Sons, appliancesonline.com.au, Brentnalls Chartered Accountants & Advisors, IC Frith and Associates, Phoenix Leisure Group and The Kitchen Maker for their support.

Thanks also go to the 18 Footers League at Double Bay for hosting the 12ft Skiff Interdominion and Double Bay Sailing Club for kindly loaning their facilities.

Final top five results after 10 races and two drops:
1. Sydney Sailmakers 1-(3)-1-1-(2)-2-2-1-2-1, 11 points
2. Little Bus 2-(5)-4-2-1-3-1-3-(11)-2, 18
3. Geotherm (4)-1-2-3-3-(5)-3-2-3-4, 21
4. C-Tech 3-2-8-4-4-1-(11)-(DNF)-1-3, 26
5. Big Foot Custom Trapeze Harnesses 6-7-6-(9)-5-4-5-(9)-5-5, 43

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

Di Pearson, 12ft skiff media