Little Bus challenges for 12ft Skiff Interdominion title

The Sydney Sailmakers crew of Nick Press/Andrew Stevenson was pushed hard today by  New Zealand’s Chris Reid/Andrew Clarke aboard Little Bus, who are hoping to nudge the Aussies from atop the podium in the 12ft Skiff Interdominion being held on Sydney Harbour this week.

Reid, who looked to have Race 6 stitched up in the 17-19 knot nor’ easterly, came unstuck when team members and defending champions Alex Vailings/Fraser Brown (C-Tech) and Sydney Sailmakers overtook them on the run home from Nielsen Park. C-Tech crossed the finish nearly a minute ahead of Sydney Sailmakers, with Little Bus 14 seconds astern, but the latter’s best was yet to come.

Little Bus’ skipper explains his drop from the lead to third: “It was a Mexican stand-off. We chose our No. 3 rig today; we couldn’t make our minds up. C-Tech carried their No. 2 rig, so were better placed, as it were. It was a really weird race – there were holes in the breeze, you had to stay on your toes- and we couldn’t get out of our own way.”

C-Tech’s Fraser Brown only yesterday conceded the first five races were practice and today they would start racing. The pair had little time to celebrate, as a bow-on-bow collision with Hempel Yacht Paints early on the first work of Race 7 cost them dearly. They finished 11th, their worst place so far. It has all but ending their chances of victory; they are 13 points off the lead.

However, in Race 7, Little Bus got off the start well near the pin with Big Foot Trapeze Harnesses (Murray Press/Scott Lanham), Sydney Sailmakers, Cougar (Cam Russell/Brad Madders), Geotherm (Brett Hobson/Brad Phillips) and Ghetto Sled (Richard Billett/Ben Cross). 

Reid/Clarke did not put a foot wrong, leading the race from start to finish. The duo had many challengers and the fleet banged the corners in the nor’ easter which had risen to 20-21 knots, and it was no surprise to find Sydney Sailmakers among them. Geotherm, which had held down second place under today, were sluggish.

“We had a brand new mainsheet and it jammed and was shredding, so you couldn’t pull it on,” skipper Brett Hobson explained how they were depowered. “Somehow, and I don’t know how, Brad (his crew) was able to free it enough so we could use it. We didn’t come into our own until the run for home,” he said, pleased they were able to get enough speed for a third place finish.

Geotherm literally moved up from around eighth place into third in the blink of an eye, Hobson able to put the pedal to the metal.

“We know we’re on the back foot now (they have dropped from second to third place three points behind Little Bus), so we’ll just go out and sail our own races,” Hobson said of the remaining three. Two will be sailed on Friday and a longer race on Saturday will complete the 12ft Skiff Interdominion.  

But all eyes were on powered up Little Bus as Sydney Sailmakers tried to catch them to no avail.

“With the tide on the turn, there was more pressure on the left side of the course and nice flat water came with it, so you could get going,” Reid said.

C-Tech skipper, Vailings said: “They seemed to have five degrees more height; they buried us and we couldn’t sail a clean race.”

In the end, Little Bus pipped Sydney Sailmakers by 32 seconds, with Geotherm over a minute adrift in third place. However, Reid and Clarke cannot rest on their laurels as Press and Stevenson are yet to put a foot wrong, and they are quick.

Hosted by the 18 Footers League at Double Bay, with assistance from Double Bay Sailing Club, the 12ft skiff Interdominion continues with two further races planned for Friday, starting from 2.30pm. Tomorrow is a lay day.       

The winners of the 12ft Skiff Interdominion will have their name engraved on the Silasec Trophy, donated in 1956 by Keith Golding of Sealwall Trading Company who had an association with the Abbotsford Club and whose family continued to supply the winners’ replicas for many years.

With seven races away and three to go, the top five results are:

1. Sydney Sailmakers 1-(3)-1-1-2-2-2, 9 points

2. Little Bus 2-(5)-4-2-1-3-1, 13

3. Geotherm 4-1-2-3-3-(5)-3, 16

4. C-Tech 3-2-8-4-4-1-(11), 22 

5. Big Foot Trapeze Harnesses 6-7-6-(9)-5-4-5, 33

Full results and photos:

Di Pearson, 12ft skiff media

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