12ft Skiff – Father and son finish top two in NSW Sprint Championship

Twelve days out from the start of the 12ft Skiff Australian Championship, a father and son have finished top two at the 2024 NSW Sprint Championship on the Harbour today; Red Energy (Murray Press/Mark Muirhead) taking the title from Sail Inc (Nick Press/Andrew Hay).

Geotherm (Brett Hobson/Peter Nicholson) filled the final podium place, while Slippery When Wet (John Williams/Will Horan) took out the event on handicap.

It’s a rare day when Murray Press, or anyone else for that matter, takes a title from Nick Press and Hay, as Press Snr admitted: “We don’t get the chance to beat him too often, so it’s very good to do it.”

Press and Muirhead won three of the four sprint races and placed fourth in the other.

“It was very tight racing though,” Red Energy’s skipper said. “We managed to get off the starts OK, find a lane and establish a lead. We got in clear air and the boat was going fast,” he said of the grey rainy day that did not dampen competitors’ enthusiasm.

“Mark and I kept it together for a change, so we had a good day. Nick (Sail Inc) and Brett (Geotherm) were there all the time. They’re always the two to beat. But grey hair still rules,” he said, laughing.

Of the race format, unusual in the class, Press Snr said, “Sprints are good. It’s close racing and there’s quite a bit of tactics involved. You also have to be quick with spinnaker sets and drops. I found it to be good preparation for the Australians.

“Everyone enjoyed the sprints and we’re looking at doing more,” he said of the four short, sharp sprint races.

Starting from 2.30pm, the style of racing tested everyone’s mettle, with a 20 minute time limit on each race from Kirribilli to Robertson Point and back. The under 10 knot breeze in the first two races kept everyone focussed on keeping their 12s balanced, before the breeze worked its way up to 10-12 knots in the last race.

As Press Snr said, “A good big rig day.”

John Williams was thrilled to win on handicap. “It was 14 minutes a race, give or take, in a light easterly. The first race we were over at the start and couldn’t  recover from it. Then the spinnaker jammed and we had to capsize the boat to fix it. We missed the second race by a bit because of it, but the third and fourth races we were quick and in front of Nick Press.”

Williams “The races were great, everyone enjoyed. It was interesting to see the best boats back in the fleet at times.”

Family, friends and ‘12s’ fans took advantage of getting up close and personal to the action, courtesy of the spectator ferry, sponsored by Pete’s Home Loans and Your Move Conveyancing. There was also a good crowd of spectators ashore.

The NSW Sprint Championship was organised by the NSW 12ft Sailing Skiff Association in conjunction with the Sydney Flying Squadron.

The 87th running of the three-day 12ft Skiff Australian Championship, to be organised and hosted by Lane Cove Sailing Club, from Friday 29 to Sunday 31 March, is sponsored by Your Move Conveyancing.

For all information and full results on the ‘12s’, please visit: https://www.skiff.org.au/

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