As the memories of the nationals were starting to fade it was time for the fleet to return to Sunshine for a couple of State & Travellers heats. It was also time to see if the old adage of ‘you are only as good as your last race’ rings true. Unfortunately for some (ie Firestorm) that was true…
With predictions of a good nor-easter for the afternoon, eight boats lined up for the start. It was nice to see
Paul Boslem Building rejoin the fleet, resplendent with new mast and sails. It was also nice to welcome back Mick Turton, who decided to join Bozo & Kev to see how the new rig worked. Off a fair start line all boats got away well, with plenty of crossed tacks up the first work. First around the top mark was Firestorm; opening up a nice lead & hoping to keep the form from the nationals they recently won here. Unfortunately it was too much like the last time they were here and they swum at the leeward mark. This allowed Range into the lead.
Steve, Mick & Mark have found another gear in the heavier breezes of late and sailed off into the distance.
The boat looks really good when powered up. Firestorm recovered from the swim to take up the chase, with Troy Botting Shipwright right on their stern. Tim, Jason & Hugh on SFC Computers were also in the hunt, as usual making good inroads downwind. With the heavier conditions to their liking Firestorm and Range had a great battle up front, with Firestorm making up the deficit and gaining the lead upwind but making mistakes and allowing Range back in front. After leading onto the run to the finish Firestorm again had problems, this time a
spinnaker halyard cleat that kept releasing. On the long, tight run home that was not a good thing and eventually they had another swim when removing the kite to avoid the lee shore. By this time though Range were well and truly in front and chalked up a nice victory. TBS were always within striking distance of the leaders and jumped past Firestorm for 2nd, the latter recovering for 3rd. With new gear (and Mick’s experience) PBB finished 5th across the line, winning easily on handicap. But a race without a swim was too much for Bozo, who ‘christened’ the new rig after the finish. After their near faultless race Range was deservedly 2nd. Gordon, Doug& Ryan on Stowe Australia managed to get 3rd by only seconds from SFC. Raptor & Under Pressure 2 were a bit light on crew weight for the conditions today and were down in the results but worse was yet to come for one of them…
I’m sure you have read elsewhere by now my thoughts about how close the fleet is. And I don’t think it is
because Firestorm has slowed – I genuinely believe the speed and quality of the sailing in the fleet has improved. Today was a great example of that. Despite starting at the same time, the VS ’s finished miles in front of the Skates, lapping half of them and making it seem like they sailed a different course. Years ago I would have put money on a skate in that breeze. Let’s keep it up!
With Bozo deciding to have the day off to sit at home & relive yesterday’s glory, the fleet was pleased to see Plan B appear in the rigging area. Michael, Jason & Jamee had a great final race here in the nationals and they were back to see if they could resume that form. And with a moderate SSE breeze reminiscent of the last heat of the nationals, who knew what might occur…
When a start line is heavily biased towards the boat end there is always potential for problems at the start. And
today was no different. When the individual recall flag was raised Firestorm was unsure & went back (as others may have too) but unfortunately Raptor did not and was later ruled OCS. A cruel blow to the series handicap leader. Range jumped away up and looked ready to repeat yesterdays result but the fleet thought otherwise. With a short, crowded course, and the wind yet to settle, going the right way and being in the right place at the right time became far more important that outright boat speed (here’s a tip- it always is). Col, Adam & Troy on TBS went the right way down a run and jumped to the lead, with Range, SFC, Raptor, Plan B and Under Pressure 2 close behind. SFC slipped back up the next work after Tim stepped off the boat for a quick swim. Jason & Hugh thought otherwise about swimming and did well to keep the boat upright as Tim
tried to catch up. When Tim boasts about being like a black I didn’t know he meant like a seal.
By now Firestorm had made their way back through the fleet and started a battle with TBS and Range for the lead. After a couple of laps of bow to stern racing, Firestorm held on to get the victory. Range had made her
way into 2nd but on the last run a good decision by TBS saw them slip by for 2nd. Range ended 3rd but only just; SFC came home faster than an 8-year-old boy running from the Neverland ranch, missing out on the place by just 3 seconds!
But this was good enough for SFC to get the handicap win for the day from Brian, Daniel & Matt on Under Pressure 2 with Stowe 3rd. Note that the handicaps for State & Travellers series run separately
so there were different results for these series. Complicated I know but I will happily explain it to anyone over a drink (that you buy).
The final regatta in the state series is at Vaucluse and Yarra Bay on the 23 & 24th of February. And once again the series is close and will be decided at these races. On scratch Firestorm holds a small points lead from Troy Botting Shipwright. In 3rdSFC and Range are equal. It is even closer for the handicap honours. Under Pressure 2 holds a one-point lead from Stowe, with SFC just another point behind. But we know how
volatile the handicap series can be so the results are far from finalised. The one thing I know is that if you don’t sail you will not get good points. It is no coincidence that the boats that sail in the most regattas generally get the major prizes. It would cheapen the titles if it were otherwise. Vaucluse& Yarra Bay are always great venues with good sailing courses & even better off water facilities and officials. They always make us feel welcome so I suggest you make the effort and attend if you can. Without their invitations in the future we would be stuck having every race at places like Teralba…
See you in Sydney!!!