Talented young Hobart helmsman Elliott Noye demonstrated his heavy weather sailing skills when a late afternoon storm, with westerly winds gusts to 40 and 50 knots, smashed through the SB20 and twilights fleet on Thursday evening.
Noye sailed Porco Rosso to a close win, clinching an overall victory in the pre-Christmas pennant series, the SB20’s final pre-Christmas pennant race and the last before the Australian Championship is sailed on the Derwent next weekend, 8-11 December.
From a sedate 10 knots, the westerly howled down from Mount Wellington at 26 knots plus, gusting up to 41 knots, with 50 knots recorded ashore at the Derwent Sailing Squadron.
Many boats, including bigger yachts competing in the DSS /RYCT social twilight racing, were knocked flat by the vicious ‘squirts’ hurtling off the mountain.
Two boats had to be towed into the shelter of King Pier after the race as gusts hit 50 knots.
Australian SB20 association president Steve Catchpool fell overboard from Hypertronics, but managed to climb back aboard. David Graney broke his pole on Wedgewood but still managed a seventh and second overall.
However, only two of the 23 starters retired, including Blue Gull (Scott Glanville) with a broken rudder. Other boats ripped sails.
In the twilight fleet, one yacht was dismasted, others retiring as the westerly, against an incoming tide, kicked up steep, short waves.
The win, Porco Rosso’s second of the pre-Christmas summer series, underlined Noye and crew’s strong prospects for the nationals, although competition will be fierce, judging by racing in the summer pennants.
Five different winners from seven races emerged in this hard-fought series.
Noye won the final race by just 22 seconds from Rob Gough, helming Difficult Woman, with another 19 seconds to The Honey Badger (Paul Burnell).
Porco Rosso won the SB20 pre-Christmas pennants with 41 points in the no-discard seven race series. David Graney steered Wedgewood to second overall on 45 points, not scoring a win, but never finishing worse than ninth.
The Honey Badger (Paul Burnell) clinched third place overall on with a third place in the final race, finishing with 48 points.
Team Musto (Charlie Nolan) finished fourth overall, Difficult Woman (Rob Gough) fifth and Hypertronics (Stephen Catchpool) sixth. Karabos (Nick Rogers) did not start in the final race, dropping down to eighth overall.
Race winners during the pennants were Porco Rosso (2), Karabos, Brainwave (Scott Brain), Aeolus (Brett Cooper) and Hentycc (Scott Pilkington).
World championship runner-up Michael Cooper in Export Roo competed in only one pennant race but will be a strong contender in the nationals.