Belmont crews dominate round 2 of NSW Cherubs

Belmont boats dominated the top placing at the second round of the NSW Cherub State Championships held in their home waters of Lake Macquarie. The round attracted twenty six entrants from across NSW, including the emerging Cherub fleet from Queens Lake Sailing Club at Laurieton and visitors from Darling Point Saining Squadron in Brisbane. Racing consisted of two short races, Heats 4 and 5, on Saturday and one long race, Heat 6, on Sunday.

Day One was sailed in a NE sea breeze that struggled to hold out a strong westerly air flow with the result that the breeze would build for a period and then die before freshening again. The leaders were the ones who found the pressure and stayed in it. In the first of two short races Enough Rope sailed by Ryan Clifton-Smith and Nigel Blatchford from Belmont escaped the dying breeze at the pin end of the start lie to set up a large lead at the first mark. Alchemy, Claire Lunsmann and Rolf Lunsmann from Lane Cove, led the rest of the fleet with Getya Cans Out, Simon Blatchford and Liam Doyle, and Cauchemar, Tim and Chris Harrington, in close pursuit. As places traded behind them Enough Rope progressively built their lead until the final work when traffic created by the local yacht fleet chopped into their advantage over the other Cherubs. They eventually held on to win the heat comfortably. Behind them Ricochet, Andrew Berryman and Matthew Wright managed to fly through the fleet after a slow start to catch and pass Alchemy in the shadow of the line taking second place by a mere 6 seconds. Series leader Sparky, sailed by Alison Chapman and Nick Dallen, recovered from an equally slow start to take fourth place.

At the start of Heat 5 the plans of several boats were thrown into disarray when a sharp wind veer close to the start gun saw much of the fleet struggling to lay the start line on Starboard tack. Enough Rope recovered well in the centre of the course narrowly leading the fleet to the top mark the first time. Very close behind them Cauchemar, Tim and Chris Harrington, Rope City, Ashley Knighton and James Walters and Wally, Trevor and Naomi Fay formed a group that swapped places but were not able to pass Enough Rope.

Sunday' Heat 6 saw the fleet racing in 20-25 plus kt north-westerly that tested all the crews and led to many thrills and spills. Enough Rope established a lead at the top mark the first time with Alchemy and Ricochet rounding close together. Behind the first three a major gust flattened half the rest of the fleet with only the more experienced and skilled crews staying upright. At the wing mark Alchemy also capsized allowing Wally and Rope City through chasing the remaining two leaders. For this race Trevor Fay had brought Rohan Kelly out of retirement, reuniting the former National Championship winning crew from the first time in two seasons. Relishing the strong conditions Fay and Kelly in Wally closed on the leaders and when Enough Rope made an error on their final gybe of the run Wally stormed past never to be headed. Behind them Enough Rope and Rope City held down second and third with Indefatigable, Rohan Nosworthy and Paddy Holt from Queens Lake sailing a great race in fifth place. At the top mark the last time disaster struck Rope City when their rudder snapped as they bore away, ending their race. In from Wally sailed on to a convincing win from Enough Rope and Ricochet.

The three races pushed the top Belmont boats, Enough Rope and Ricochet, up the leader board with Enough Rope now sitting just two points behind the series leader Sparky. With two more rounds of racing to be completed in February and March next year the series is poised for a close finish.

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