13ft and 16ft Skiff Nationals – Day 4

SKE Electrical was forced to overcome a notorious harbour flat spot, an intruding power boat and a stablemate desperate to spoil the party on a day where two more clubs joined the winners’ list at the Australian 16ft Championships at Manly.

Erics Removals Winner Heat6
Erics Removals Winner Heat6

A little over an hour after Middle Harbour’s Eric’s Storage (Harry Lawson) broke through for the club’s first win at the nationals, Belmont’s Scott Babbage piloted his boat to victory in the rescheduled heat one.

It was Belmont’s first win at the regatta, slightly easing the pain of Sunday’s abandoned first heat when an ocean liner wreaked havoc with the fleet with two Belmont boats on track for a 1-2 finish.

Skelcon 2nd Heat1 resailed
Skelcon 2nd Heat1 resailed

Babbage and crew Harry Price and Joel Skelton had to hold off their clubmates aboard runner-up Skelcon (Henry Makin) to claim the narrowest of wins.

It came after a sudden drop in breeze at an eastern pocket of the harbour along with some “motor traffic” threatened to conspire against them in the shadows of the finish line.

“Yeah, it was tricky. There was plenty of pressure coming down the right-hand side of the course,” Babbage said. “The Skelcon boys got a little depth on us so we couldn’t gybe out and were pushed into a corner. “We also had a power boat to contend with … there’s always plenty of obstacles to deal with on the harbour. “We were lucky to get a little puff through to the finish line.”

Cunninghams 2nd Heat6 - 4th Heat1 Resailed
Cunninghams 2nd Heat6 – 4th Heat1 Resailed

Skelcon was just 11 seconds behind in second, with Moonen Yachts (Daniel Turner), Cunninghams (Nick Connor) and Typhoon (Nathan Wilmot) making up the top five.

The win has renewed Babbage’s hopes SKE Electrical can push for a top 10 finish after mixed results earlier in the week. He said: “It’s nice to have a couple of Belmont boats on the podium to break up the Manly boats. “The boys sailed a really good race and we’re looking forward to the next few days with the nor’ easters predicted.”

Middle Harbour had good reason to celebrate earlier in the day after Lawson sailed an excellent tactical race in the fluky east-nor-east breeze. Cunninghams, in the first of two great performances for the day, finished second in front of Typhoon and Tribeca (Ben Bradley).

Manly boats failed to win a race for the first time in this regatta but still enjoy a stranglehold on the overall pointscore tally. With each boat to drop its two worst results, defending champion Wilmot enjoys a four-point break from IMEI (Dave Gilmour) with Moonen a further two points in arrears.

13ft Plonk- Avril-Richardson Winner Heat1 Resailed
13ft Plonk- Avril-Richardson Winner Heat1 Resailed

Friday’s double heat of racing will go a long way towards determine our 2022/23 Australian Championship winner.

Turner said: “We’re still in it but obviously a lot has to go right for us tomorrow and Saturday. Anything can happen in sailing so we will keep punching away.”

In the 13s, EBIX (Jemma Hopkins) opened up a seven-point lead on clubmate Bartley Construction (Taylor Springett) after another near perfect outing. Hopkins won the day’s first race before finishing second behind Middle Harbour’s Plonk Café (Avril Richardson) in the follow-up heat.

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