Press and Hay undisputed 12ft Skiff Interdominion champions
The Geotherm crew of Brett Hobson/Jeremy Jones were the undisputed winners of the final race, but NSW sailors Nick Press/Andrew ‘Noddy’ Hay (Sydney Sailmakers) have decisively won the Your Move Conveyancing 12ft Skiff Interdominion, hosted by the Sydney Flying Squadron this past week, their names to be carved on the Silasec Trophy again.
Competing against 34 other crews on Sydney Harbour, this was Press’ eighth Interdominion title, a record number for a skipper and a co-record for a skipper or crew. It was Hay’s second win (his first was with Press in 2017).
“Never, ever, did I think I’d win eight. When I started sailing 12s, Tim Bartlett (currently skipper of Frankenskiff who won six Interdominions in his heyday) was the man. At that stage the dream of winning even one was far away,” Press, the respected Gladesville sailor said.
“During the years a lot of people helped me, my dad (Murray Press), who I crewed for, and previous crews Richard Johns, Brad Yabsley and Andrew Stevenson. They taught me how to race and compete at a high level – and to race against Brett (Hobson) – he makes us better and pushes us – and we push him and Jeremy too.”
He and Hay are in fine company, with some big names on the previous winners list of this prestigious event: John Chapple (NZL), Dave Porter (NSW), Bruce Farr (NZL) – yes, the famous yacht designer, John Winning (NSW) and Iain Murray (NSW) among them.
Alex Vallings, the defending champion from New Zealand, has also won eight titles, two as crew for Tim Bartlett and six as skipper of his own boats. Bartlett himself has won the title six times. He continues to race competitively as the skipper of Frankenskiff (NZL) and finished just outside the top ten this time.
Representing Lane Cove 12ft Skiff Sailing Club, Press/Hay won five from 10 races, only straying outside the top three twice. They won the title from Geotherm by four points, the latter getting off to a flying start, claiming the first two races and winning the last, sailed in a beautiful nor’ easter of 10 to 12 knots. They led from go to whoa by a good margin.
“I’m pretty excited about the result and it was nice to do it with Noddy (Hay),” Press said of his crew for the past four seasons.
“We put a lot into it – it’s not as simple as it might look. I got a new boat nine months ago and we spent a lot of time with the rig and Sydney Sailmakers getting it right. We trained hard too – on our own and with others, including Brett. It’s a sense of relief to win.
“It was pretty nice to have good conditions all week – we all had some amazing rides,” Press said after finishing third today. He had to play catch up and find passing lanes after being buried at the start.
On the comparatively large and competitive 35-boat fleet, Press said: “It’s good to see the 12s in such good shape. There’s a wider range of people sailing and a lot of young guys, new talent coming through.”
Hay agreed. “This is the best fleet we’ve sailed against.” The bloke they call Noddy briefly sailed 18 footers with Press, “but I was one of those guys who hadn’t sailed a 12 before – and when I did – I realised what I was missing.”
On their win, Hay said, “There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things in sport – it’s a team effort – and that’s what we do, we’re a team.” And it is plain to see the pair is very in tune with each other on the water.
Commenting on their win today and their second place overall, Hobson said, “It was a nice way to finish. We were borderline between using the big rig and our No.2 – we went with the No.2 – and it was right. We started well and the boat felt good. We went right to the western shore and avoided the ships (two cargo ships were moored in the course area on the Harbour of which some fell foul).
“We made good decisions and felt we got away on the upwind by banging the left shore. I was a little more relaxed, as the pressure was off, but we were still out there to win,” commented Killara sailor Hobson, adding: “I’m really enjoying sailing with Jeremy. We’re a newish crew, but we really came together this week.
“We got a little bit unlucky in the middle (of the Interdominion) which is a bit disappointing,” he said of traffic on the Harbour that cost him podium places. “We’re pretty happy with second – and that the Aussies won the Teams event.” Australia scored 809 to win the John Brooke trophy, the Kiwis 698 – each team made up of eight boats.
The Kiwis had a good go and Chris Skinner/Chris Holland (Jackson Electrical) took the final podium position after a week of consistent sailing, “except for today,” Holland interjected, when they fell to 12th place and used it as one of their two drops. Although they did not win a race, Skinner and Holland counted five third places in their tally for third overall.
It was an exceptional result given Skinner broke his neck in Spain after a fall in September and is lucky to be alive, let alone back sailing an unruly skiff. He does not have a lot of movement in his neck, so can’t look around to see what is going on with his rivals, but refused to make it an excuse.
“We haven’t raced all season though. This was our first time. We’re happy – we have a one-off boat and it’s quick. We do a lot of development and got new sails and they made a lot of difference.”
Skinner, who represents Royal Akarana Club in Auckland where a lot of champions are bred, including Jim Delegat, winner of the 2016 Rolex Sydney Hobart and Skinner’s Interdominion teammate Alex Vallings, among others, said “We’ve really enjoyed the regatta.
“The quality is the best we’ve seen. It’s good to see so many new people and different winners through the week. We were last here in 2005 and finished 10th – now we’re third in much hotter competition.”
This year, defending champion Vallings arrived with new crew, Sam Tretheway, but the pair had little preparation time, so their performances were up and down. They still finished fourth overall and showed moments of brilliance, including a win in Race 5 and third in Race 7.
The overall handicap winner is Terms and Conditions (Brad Phillips/Harry Bethwaite) representing the Sydney Flying Squadron. The Veterans Advanx Trophy (best skipper over the age of 55), goes to Murray Press, who at 66 is still showing ‘the youngster’s’ how it is done and finished 10th.
Andrew Binstead-Chapman, skipper of Icarus from Lane Cove 12 footers, finished second in the final race for eighth overall to take out the Rookie (highest placed first-time skipper) for the Nimble trophy.
The weeklong event on Sydney Harbour gave competitors everything from perfect summer nor’ easters, to a stiff southerly and moderate winds from the south and south-east – something to please all.
Thanks go to the Sydney Flying Squadron for making all feel welcome and to the volunteers; no event is successful without them.
Thanks also go to naming rights sponsor Your Move Conveyancing, support sponsor Brentnalls NSW and Premium sponsors: Carbon Chandlery, Chapman High Performance Sailing, Phoenix Leisure Group, SkiffRopes.com, Sydney Sailmakers, Maersk Line and Zhik.
The 2020 Interdominion will be held in New Zealand next January.
By Di Pearson, 12ft skiff media