While some one hundred or so yachts came sweeping up the River Derwent at the finish of the Sydney Hobart and Launceston to Hobart races in late December, a swarm of smaller sailing boats were often seen dashing back and forth across the river.
A fleet of 35 Sabres, a single-handed adult dinghy, was contesting the Australian championship on the river, conducted ably by the Derwent Sailing Squadron.
Despite other commitments, including the Launceston to Hobart and the King of the Derwent, the DSS race management conducted 10 races for the Sabres without any incidents.
The weather was kind except for first day when a strong southerly front caused some havoc with the fleet.
In the end it came down to the last race on Sunday to decide the overall winner with a duel between South Australians Craig McPhee and Mark Soulsby, the defending champion.
McPhee, with four firsts earlier in the series, went into the final race with a three point lead and a second place in the final race was sufficient to give him a two point winning margin and his first national title in the Sabre class.
Soulsby, well-known as a former champion Sharpie and 505 sailor, made a spirited bid to retain his title, winning the last two races.
McPhee finished with a net 14 points after two discards, Soulsby 16 points while third overall was another South Australian, David Arnold on 20 points.
Victorians filled the next two placings overall, Jim Scott on 23 points and Murray Shaw on 41 points followed by the first Tasmanian competitor, Jeremy Fish from Lindisfarne Sailing Club on 53 points.
Matt Westland, also from Lindisfarne placed 9th and Matt Pearce 11th.
Lauren Keil was top placed female sailor, finishing 20th overall while her father, Chris Keil was 15th in standings. Junior champion was Joshua Eggins who placed 17th overall.
– Peter Campbell