Day One at the Australian Nationals Championships 2017/18. Bob Griffits reports from the centre of action.
Racing commenced today in the Australian Championships at Wangi, NSW. 51 boats faced the starter’s gun at 1300 hours under blue skies on a typical NSW summer’s day.
The north-east sea breeze had settled in at about 10 to 12 knots, and would later build to 18 knots by the end of the second race. The four-kilometre fetch from Belmond Bay encouraged a moderate wind chop across the course, but it was still comfortable, and did not significantly impact on foiling parameters.
Steve Brewin won both races of the day, but the top end racing was very close, with the lead changing hands on numerous occasions.
The top group of sailors was essentially as predicted, with close competition between Steve Brewin, Glenn Ashby, Nathan Outteridge, Stephen Brayshaw.
It the preceding Australian National Championships of 2016/17, Brewin and Darren Bundock were significantly faster than the remainder of the fleet, but this year competition has intensified across the fleet, as the higher skill levels have become more widespread. Development has slowed and become more incremental.
There are now about 10 competitors whom have become very proficient at foiling to windward, and many more whom are comfortably able downwind.
Race 1: Adam Beatie lead around the top buoy, but capsized on the bear away. A second capsize a little later was too much stress for the carbon fibre mast, which promptly broke in half, ending Adam’s sailing for the day. Steve Brewin assumed the lead and went on to win the race. Second placed was Glenn Ashby , Stephen Brayshaw third, Nathan Outteridge fourth, and Dave Shaw from New Zealand fifth.
Race2: A very interesting race in terms of lead change. First buoy rounding positions were Nathan Outteridge, then Glenn Ashby, Steve Brewin, Dave Shaw, with Stephen Brayshaw fifth.
Brewin overtook Ashby downwind, and later both Ashby and Brewin passed Outteridge. Ashby and Brewin traded the first place on a number of the crosses, but both headed for finish line one lap prematurely. Outteridge made no such mistake, rounding the leeward gate and once more heading upwind. Brewin realised the mistake a little earlier than Ashby, turning upwind, to sit in second place.
Outteridge looked to have the race in the bag, but unfortunately he capsized about one hundred metres from the finish, handing the race to Brewin’ Dave Shaw finished second, Glenn Ashby third, Nathan Outteridge recovering to fourth, with Stephen Brayshaw firth.
The 12-race series is wide open, and a wide spectrum of wind conditions are forecast over the next few days.
The best placed Classic Division of the day was Scott Anderson (16th overall, with his former crew mate Chris Cairns placed just behind.