First inter-club race of the 2012-13 season, light easterly breeze forecast to strengthen & turn to the North-East, saw the fleet pondering the big-rigs, but leaning to the conservative option of the second rig: a choice virtually the whole fleet followed.
The Upper Harbour Championship also marked the launch day for the newly sponsored Variety sponsored skiff, and the first coming together of the whole fleet of 12‘s, so a race to look forward to. As well, famous offshore navigator Adrienne Cahalan making her return to the class that initiated her sailing career, stepping in as guest skipper on Hood.
Light wind at the start, with a run-out tide, start-line tight to cross on starboard. No-one was brave enough to chance a port tack. This saw Gemmell Sails, Garde (with guest crew Nick Press, making a skipper/crew combination of multiple interdominion winners) and Lincoln Crowne & Co. off the line well & just ahead of the main fleet. A tight work out of the river, looking for puffs of wind, the new Variety skiff working into the lead bunch.
At the notorious Humbug, beginning the tricky spinnaker ride into the Parramatta River, it was Garde with a small gap to Gemmell Sails then Lincoln Crowne & Co. and Variety, who discovered problems with their new carbon rigging & subsequently having to withdraw.
This was the order on the work to Manns Point, & the start of the long & difficult run to Drummoyne, through the reach along Cockatoo Island and the spectator mayhem of the Red Bull circus on the island. On this run Garde made its first break on the fleet, getting through the traffic better than the following skiffs. Gemmell Sails also slightly gapped Lincoln Crowne on the run, with LCC closing the gap again at the bottom mark. The older skiff, Rip Rack Roar and Rumble, who was the only boat to choose big-rig, were making a fantastic showing at the upper end of the fleet at this stage of the race.
Working back up to Manns point, chasing the now extending Garde, Gemmell Sails second, Lincoln Crowne & Co. 3rd with a slight gap to Geotherm in 4th.
The breeze was freshening & getting gusty, making the second rig choice clearly the correct option. A tight spinnaker reach from Manns Point to the Valentia Street gybe mark in the increasing breeze saw the skiffs unable to reach the mark under spinnaker, having to drop and 2-sail to the mark: Gemmell Sails capsizing in this manouver, allowing Lincoln Crowne & Co. through to second, following Garde around the gybe mark, dodging the Red Bull traffic and re-setting the spinnaker for the remainder of the run to Spectacle Island.
Long work back to Manns Point, Garde well ahead, Lincoln Crowne just holding out Gemmell Sails and Geotherm, around Manns Point then a tight, very windy spinnaker ride to the last mark at Birchgrove, with a 2 -sail into the Lane Cove River to head for the finish.
At Valentia Street the spinnaker on Lincoln Crowne washed out of the kite bin & into the water, dragging the skiff to a halt, allowing Gemmell Sails to pull ahead by 40m. This was the finishing order, Garde a commanding win, Gemmell Sails & then Lincoln Crowne a further minute back, with a long gap to the 4th placed Arrogant Frog (Peter and Steve Hill).
Handicap results was Arrogant Frog 1st, Garde 2nd and Gemmels
A great day, thanks to Vantage Real Estate for sponsoring the event, Variety and Lincoln Crowne & Company for their ongoing support of the 12 Foot Skiff class and to Rotary for hosting the BBQ for the day