Both the scratch & handicap titles were far from decided. On scratch Firestorm was three points clear of Meeks with TBS & SFC just another two points adrift. But with ‘the big 4’ already scoring a bad race or two, and with a light, puffy northerly blowing, the title series was far from finished.
Similarly the handicap title was also far from done. Black Diamond held a four-point lead from a circling pack of Planet Beer, SFC & Stowe. Just another point adrift was Devocean & Narwahl. With light, tricky conditions there was likely to be big points scored in both races so again the title was far from done.
The first race of the day was started in a light breeze that kept the fleet close, with all boats looking for that elusive gust. The big 4 all managed to dig themselves out of the fleet after the first lap, with Black Diamond continuing to do as they have done all regatta and cross ahead out of nowhere. After many position changes, Firestorm held a small lead from SFC, TBS & Meeks going up the last beat to the finish. Plenty of cover tacking was the rule until Meeks decided to chance their luck & break away to the right. Great move. Mick, Mark & Robbie picked up a nice lift to surge from 4th to 1st to win the race by 2 seconds from Firestorm in 2nd, SFC just 1 second behind in 3rd, and TBS a ‘huge’ 3 seconds further back in 4th. So in six seconds the results of the regatta was changed. Now only Meeks & Firestorm was in contention. Just one gust different & it could have been between SFC & TBS.
With the light breeze the fleet was compacted at the finish so the long handicappers faired well. Devocean took 1st place, from Narwahl & Raptor. Going into the final race Devocean held a 1 point lead from Stowe & Black Diamond for the overall handicap title.
Race 10 was another beauty. Similar breeze; maybe slightly stronger so that crews could occasionally swing two uphill. Another closely contested start with an IR; Firestorm having to return & dip the line & Black Diamond having to circle the start boat. After a lap of changing places the big 4, along with Chook (in hindsight I should have include Chook & labelled all these boats the big 5) had made their way to the front of the fleet to race to decide the title. SFC lead TBS, Black Diamond, Meeks & Firestorm down the second run when a strengthening change appeared from the south.
SFC managed it best to round the leeward marks first. TBS got caught high & had to gybe in a black’un, and unfortunately swam. Black Diamond was caught in a hole and gybed back north so also slipped back. That left Meeks & Firestorm to chase SFC. Meeks took the left leeward mark; Firestorm the right. With the breeze coming from Firestorm’s side they passed Meeks to follow SFC around the windward mark for the final time.
All three blasted for the finish. All three had to drop spinnakers to make finish the finish line. Jeremy, Tom & Hugh took victory in SFC Computers to claim the Coal Board Shield & 3rd overall. With three wins, if not for a slow start to the regatta, these boys would have been even further up in the results. Firestorm hung on for 2nd, seven seconds ahead of Meeks. Black Diamond continued to pounce on any mistake the big 4 made & finished a good 4th. Stowe had a good race & finished 5th across the line, and enough to win the race on handicap from Firestorm & SFC.
This spread of points was enough to ensure Tim, Scott & Kirra on Stowe were the overall handicap champions First time debutants Scott & Kirra sailed a great regatta. It may feel a long & sometimes tiring series but when you reflect on a national’s, that’s what makes them special. No one remembers a weekend regatta… SFC kept improving all regatta and finished 2nd overall on handicap, with Devocean & Black Diamond tied for 3rd. Roger, Nick & Will got the place on a count back, and earned the respect of the fleet by being only one of three to not capsize during the eleven races. Well sailed!!!
Overall on scratch Firestorm, with John, Dale, Ryan, Tracey & Stephen, sailed consistently enough to win the title by three points. With Ryan on board I think we were unbeatable. But they were big shoes to fill and I think Tracey & Steve filled the vacancy admirably & kept Firestorm in the series. By the final day Steve was looking for his forward hand union ticket and deservedly joined the VS champions winners list. Thanks mate.
So back to the fulfilment of dreams. Tim has wanted a national series here for years. And this year we did it. It came off perfectly. The weather was good. The courses were good. The racing was good. The PPK sponsored BBQ presentation was good. And when Tim announced SFC was sponsoring the drinks trailer, everything was good!!!
Sid Peare Invitation
1st Firestorm (J Hodda, D Jacobson, R Fokes;
Coal Board Shield
1st SFC Computers (J Dodds, T Wood, H Dodds)
1st Firestorm (J Hodda, D Jacobson, R Fokes, T Jacobson, S Sims) 14 pts; 2nd Meeks Real Estate (M Turton, R Turton, M Nugent) 17 points; 3rd SFC Computers (J Dodds, H Dodds, T Wood) 19 points; 4th Troy Botting Shipwright (C Gillespie, A Kelly, J Turton) 24 pts; 5th Black Diamond (B Baker, H Baker, A Birkefield) 31 pts; 6th Planet Beer (M Northam, B Dodds, B Ferguson, C Bradford) 46 pts; 7th Stowe (T Dodds, S Coleman, K Coleman) 54 points; 8th Raptor (J Ferguson, M Blake, K Donaldson) 56 pts; 9th Narwahl ( B Gleeson, M Gleeson, Kallan ) 72 pts; 10th Devocean (R Devery, N Devery, W Devery 76 pts.
1st Stowe 27pts; 2nd SFC Computers 30 pts; 3rd Devocean 32 pts (count back); 4th Black Diamond 32 pts; 2nd Plan B 20 pts; 3rd Battleship 22 pts; 4th Black Diamond 27 pts; 5th Planet Beer 34pts (count back); 6th Narwahl 34 pts (count back); 7th Raptor 34pts; 8th Troy Botting Shipwright 45 pts; 9th Firestorm 48pts; 10th Meeks Real Estate 50 pts.