Macfarlane and Payne clinch third Fireball Nationals with race to spare

Following a consistent regatta, class veterans Heather Macfarlane and Chris Payne, sailing Not Your Average Rockstars, have taken out their third Fireball Nationals with one race still to be sailed.

After kicking off the event with two wins, the Victorian duo jagged another two wins on their way to victory, never falling outside the top six, making them too good to beat this year.

The remainder of the podium is pretty much confirmed, with Tom Gordon/Jack Fletcher (Cletus) now firm in second place with John Heywood/Brett Littledike (Renegade) all but confirmed for third.

The penultimate day of racing threw up a few tricks, with the opening race being started in a shifty south-westerly breeze.

Between the time the race started and the boats getting well into the first work, a 100-degree left hand shift changed the game, forcing Principal Race Officer, Mike Rodgers, to abandon and restart then race in the new breeze.

It was a great decision, with the first sea breeze of the event well and truly coming to provide the fleet with some cracking rides and fast reaches.

Macfarlane/Payne took out the first race of the day in the 26-boat fleet, which all but solidified their regatta win, while Ben Knoop/James Belton (Fierce Creature) came away with a hard-fought win in the second race.

With the breeze well up by late afternoon, Knoop/Belton were in a ding-dong battle with young Fireball upstarts, Alex Higgins/Joal Mackenzie, who led for most of the race despite being a light combination.

However, on the last upwind leg before turning downwind to head to the finish, a broken main halyard forced Higgins/Mackenzie out of the race, handing Knoop/Belton the opportunity to cruise home for their maiden win at a national title.

Only one race is scheduled for the final day, which will be a victory lap of sorts for Macfarlane and Payne, while the remainder of the fleet has a last ditch effort at picking up a few spots.

Full results:

Harry Fisher

Jeanneau JY55
M.O.S.S Australia
Selden Asymetric Rib Technology
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