Skate skippers from around the country gathered at Cockburn Sound to compete in their 2014 national championship. The little 14 footers with their distinctive hiking planks have been updated to incorporate many features found on more recent designs, including asymmetric spinnakers and square top mainsails. The Skates still have a strong following and demonstrated why as they flew around Mangles Bay in an 18 knot sea breeze during the afternoon.
The morning program was delayed due to lack of wind. Division 1 finally started their long race from the number two start line, set to the east of the main start line from which windward/leeward races would be run for the remaining fleets but the light breeze refused to settle, resulting in a further delay for the windward/leeward course.
Tricky wind shifts caught many skippers out of position, but the standout performance came from Jamie Dunross’ race in the sports boat fleet. His little three man Sonar (a Paralympic class) carries no spinnaker and found itself in competition with a new J70, an Elliot 7 and other well credentialed craft. Dunross capitalised on a good start to lead in the first leg, but predictably lost ground downwind where his rivals had the advantage of spinnakers. However he regained the lead in the light conditions and held it to record a fine first and fastest.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Classics were starting to sort themselves out. Ralph Newton’s Eun-na-Mara, launched in 1907, seems to have clearly established itself as the boat to beat, though Gary Martin’s Acrospire which was launched twenty years later, was much closer in today’s second race. Behind these two, a bunch of H28’s are fighting for the spoils.
In the morning race, Eun-na-Mara was first and fastest with minor placings going to the H28’s of John Wright (Anna) and Jay Lawry (Karoleeya). Enu-na-Mara also won the afternoon race, but ominously, Acrospire took second place so the stage is set for an interesting duel between these two as their handicaps settle down.
Division 1’s long race was a frustrating affair early with light and variable winds making progress slow and unpredictable. When the sea breeze finally arrived, the pecking order was quickly restored leaving Garth Curran’s Walk on the wild Side to grab line honours while Laurie Flynne’s Beneteau 34.7 Dynamic scored first place. On IRC handicap, Peter Hickson’s Ker39 ME II sailed well to push Dynamic back into second.
Des Riley’s Hard Evidence had a good day, winning both windward/leeward races in the very popular Jib and Main fleet. On IRC it was John Holder’s Plus 16 which placed first in the morning race and Graeme Martin’s Sand Crab’s Disco placed first in the afternoon. Rob Halvorsen’s Giddy Up was fastest in both races.
Enjoyable sea breezes of 15 to 18 knots quickly dispelled the difficulties experienced in the light breezes during the morning and left sailors keen to do battle on Day 2.
For further information, go to www.cockburnsoundregatta.com.au.
– Bernie Kaaks